Protein-Losing Enteropathy (PLE), IBD & Digestive Issues

Protein-Losing Enteropathy (PLE) is characterized as a loss of protein from the intestines due to intestinal disease.  There can be many causes of PLE, but it’s important to note that there may be a hereditary component in Wheatens, predisposing them to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and/or intestinal lymphangiectasia.

  • The average age of onset is 4½ years (range 0.5-11 years).
  • A PLE dog may exhibit diarrhea, vomiting, edema/ascites, picky appetite, and weight loss.  Since these are symptoms of many types of illness, serious and minor, proper diagnosis is important.  Left untreated, PLE can become serious and fatal.
  • Treatment is with medication and diet and can result in extended life.
  • There is no genetic test for PLE.
  • Learn more about Protein-Losing Enteropathy.
  • Learn more about Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

**********North Carolina State University SCWT Early Intestinal Disease Marker Study**********

Wheaten Terriers diagnosed with PLE and healthy Wheaten Terriers are needed for a study with NC State University School of Veterinary Medicine. NC Stated is beginning a study it hopes will identify dogs with PLE before there are any clinical bloodwork changes. Participation go 8-10 “normal” Wheatens and 8-10 “affected” dogs are needed. Testing is done free of charge at NCSU in Raleigh, NC and there are financial incentives.  For more information, contact Katie Tolbert, DVM at

Participation Information Form

Michigan State University PLE Study:

Dr. Sara Jablonski is studying how to better diagnose and treat protein-losing enteropathy (PLE) in dogs. Both local and out-of-state clients may participate, as some studies require only 1 clinical visit. Clients whose dogs are part of 1 or more of Jablonski’s studies could save up to $2,500 on clinical services.

If you’re interested in applying for a PLE study with Jablonski, email the address linked below with information about your dog that will help determine their eligibility.

Please note: Jablonski and her collaborators are looking for dogs who have not seen prior treatment, and, most importantly, have not been treated with steroids.



Testing for PLE/IBD/Digestive Issues:

Early diagnosis of PLE and other digestive issues can give your dog a better quality of life.  Performing the Annual Testing Protocols  can help your veterinarian diagnose PLE.

If you are concerned about PLE, IBD or digestive issues  you may want to consider the following tests and webinars:

Excessive Gagging and Gulping:

Many owners have reported that their Wheaten Terrier has a swallowing issue known to pet owners as Gulpies. Read more about this issue. 


Updated 04/26/2023