Colitis In Dogs - Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Colitis In Dogs - Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Depending on the context, chronic or acute, painful diarrhea and constipation are aspects that will be of concern to a dog with colitis.

As a relatively common condition, colitis is uncomfortable and painful to dogs causing almost half the percentage of chronic and acute diarrhea with just the inflammation of the colon (large intestine). 

Below are some insights on colitis, its causes, treatment, and how it can be prevented.

What Foods Trigger Colitis?

Colitis, also known as the large bowel/intestine, is a digestive disease-causing inflammation of the colon and is displayed by loose stools often containing fresh blood and mucus. 

Some dogs will appear unwell with a lack of appetite and lethargy, while others will emerge as alert and bright.

Its causes may be short-term external triggers such as an undiagnosed infection, dogs eating something they shouldn't, or parasites.

At this point, there is reduced water absorption, and most dogs strain during defecation (with little stool volume produced) that tend to implode in frequency as the colon's ability to store feces is compromised. It is of two types:

Acute colitis usually occurs suddenly and is not as mild as its counterpart chronic colitis as it lasts for only a few days, and the affected dog returns to normal health almost immediately.

Chronic colitis, on the other hand, is a more severe condition of repeated colitis diagnosis with symptoms coming and going over time. Dogs with this level of colitis suffer frequent flare-ups due to an underlying problem.

Causes of colitis are numerous, from dogs eating contaminated food, swallowing foreign objects, contact with infected dogs, and stress, which puts pressure on their immune system to gut infections and intestinal worms. 


Other causes include:

● Irritable bowel syndrome

● Bacterial infections.

● Injured colon

● Immune diseases 

● Pre-existing health conditions, for example; pancreatitis


Symptoms of colitis in dogs

The various symptoms do vary from dog to dog; here are the common signs:

● Bloody stools and/or mucus 

● Loose or watery stools

● Frequent defecation

● Constipation

● Lack of appetite

● Increased straining

● Increased flatulence

● Poor eating habits

● Weight loss

Diagnosis of the dogs depends on their clinical histories and signs, often to rule out any other conditions, rectal examination, microscopic evaluation of the stools, blood tests, and cytology.

The colour of dog poop is utterly contingent on how colitis affects the colon and rectum. The digestive duct's healthy cells are attacked by the immune system releasing white blood cells, leading to chronic inflammation.

On impact, cells lining the colon develop sores or, in worst-case scenarios, ulcers, which bleed and produce pus resulting in soft, watery loose stools with bright flecks of blood.

Do Colitis In Dogs Go Away?

Lucky for most dogs diagnosed with colitis, its prognosis has excellent rapid recovery once properly diagnosed. 

Most recover within a few days with no further complications (acute colitis). In a few cases, ongoing treatment is needed for a form of colitis recurring throughout a dog's life (chronic colitis).

Most often are back to normal within three to five days, but it can take close to 2 weeks or more for dogs whose symptoms persist. 

For those with prolonged inhabiting of the organism, relief may occur after 2 to 10 weeks.

What Is The Best Treatment For A Dog With Colitis?

If a dog shows any signs of colitis, seeking a veterinarian is key as treatment varies with how severe the condition is. 

There will be a cross-examination of the dog's history, after which the faeces will be evaluated. Additional tests like X-rays to fully examine the colon, colonoscopy and ultrasound evaluation of the abdomen is necessary in some colitis cases.

In light cases, suggestions from the veterinarian are that the dog be treated at home under watchful care, but if the case is weighed, the situation requires admission to the hospital.

There are several treatment options for colitis, one being natural means. Fasting for 24 or 48 hours is recommended to rest the dog's intestinal tracts and give the colon time to heal, after which a high-fibre or bland diet is administered. 

Some dogs may do better on low-fibre diets. 

Fibre-supplemented diets improve diarrhea in many animals, reducing free stool water. 

Fibre also helps absorb toxins, increase stool bulk, stretch the colonic smooth muscle, improve contractility, support the growth of normal colon bacteria, and support healthy colon cells.

Depending on the dog's diagnosis, the vet may prescribe treatments for the underlying problem, such as antibiotics to treat bacterial infections or even anti-parasitic treatments for worms.

Gut-friendly inflammatories may also be prescribed to help with the colon inflammation and the dog's discomfort.

In often rare cases, the dog is administered antispasmodic drugs, which help the gut walls settle and stop overworking. The drugs reduce the dog's urgency to defecate and help in returning to a normal defecation routine.

Find out more on the drugs to be administered here.

Generally, the dog should be under watchful care to help prevent ingestion of foreign objects and contaminated food.

How To Prevent Colitis In Dogs

Avoiding giving dog food containing allergens such as wheat and beef is a good way to kick off colitis prevention.

Stressful situations for the dog are also to be avoided; stopping them from eating things they shouldn't eat is a responsibility.

Ensure any illnesses are diagnosed and treated quickly, and regular worming treatments for the dog are recommended.

Therefore, a nutrient profile that allows the dog's gastrointestinal(GI) to rejuvenate and function normally is of the essence. 

The dog's first step in protein digestion is providing food in the form best referred to as hydrolysate, whose importance is that it has been broken down into composite amino acids.

Lean meat, eggs and fish are also highly digestible and leave less residue consequently, and the dog will have a reduction in the waste it produces.

Food such as brown rice is also great for the digestive system, with diets having low crude fibre and low-fat content. Often foods given to dogs who have suffered colitis are recommended to have 8% to 15% fat content.

Modified proteins may be used for symptom management as breaking down the proteins is a process that is not recognizable by the body as that particular protein, making it easier to be used for nutrition and not reacted to unfavourably.

Water is a very important nutrient when dealing with colitis; keeping the colon hydrated gives favourable conditions for its health; therefore, plenty of fresh water is paramount.

Final Thought

Good pet care is an important aspect of preventing colitis in dogs.

Plenty of rest, freshwater and time to recover from the illness are advised for dogs with colitis.

Feeding the dog a healthy balanced diet of quality food, including the number of treats they eat, helps in the digestive process.

Working with a veterinarian to assess the nutritional and clinical history of the dog to create a nutritional plan is best as its probability of success is evaluated.

The best thing is to ensure your dog is getting a healthy lifestyle.