Colitis in Dogs | Symptoms, Causes and What to Feed a Dog with Colitis

Does your dog exhibit more frequent defecation needs? Or you found blood in his stool? These might alarm you to think that your dog suffers from a disease or illness of whatever kind. Could this be colitis?

What is colitis in dogs?

Colitis is the inflammation of the colon or the large intestine. The term is commonly used interchangeably with diarrhea or loose stools relating to the large bowel.

The colon is the part of the digestive tract which retains the food that has processed by the stomach and small intestine.

In dogs and cats, the structure of the colon can be divided into portions namely Ascending, Traverse and Descending.

The large intestine or the colon is responsible for the reabsorption of water from the feces, decreasing the fecal volume, colonic bacterial activity, bacterial vitamin generation, firming the feces and temporary storage of feces.

Skinny dogWhen the food enters the dog’s body, most part of the food is absorbed and consumed by the body as energy or stored as fat. The remaining portion of absorbed food, commonly composed of indigestible fibers, enters the colon.

It also functions as a site for microbial fermentation and absorption of the products of microbial fermentation, volatile fatty acids (VFAs). Motility which is brought about by segmentation and peristalsis is also important for its proper function.

Approximately, the bacterial count of the colon is ten times denser than the bacteria in the small intestine. The left-over fibers are taken by the bacteria and are broken down into three bio-chemical. These three bio-chemicals are the acetate, proportionate and butyrate.

These bio-chemicals nourish the cells of the colon and control the ph balance. A balanced ph is important so that the excreted toxins will not be reabsorbed. The bacteria also produce gasses and pigments used in the formation of tools.

Colitis is a variety of afflictions of the colon along with other digestive system problems. The distinction of this condition from the others is that there is inflammation specifically of the colon.

There are two general types of illness. The first is the Acute one and the Chronic one. In Acute Colitis, the inflammation or irritation of the colon (large intestine) lasts only for a short time. Chronic Colitis, on the other hand, is more of a long-term disorder.

You may check this video discussing additional information about this condition.

What causes colitis in dogs?

There are many factors which cause colitis in dogs. Majorly, it is caused by the following:

  • Parasites

Parasitic Colitis is caused by parasites; commonly, of whipworms which reside in the upper colon. Whipworms are intestinal parasites. They live in the upper colon and are capable of growing up to two to three inches long.

The whipworm is one of the most common intestinal parasites of dogs. The presence of few whipworms in your dog’s intestines rarely causes a problem, but if they multiply into the great number they can cause irritation and inflammation of the intestine.

Other parasites that may cause it are Roundworms, Hookworms, Tapeworms, and Heartworms. Each worm has different means of making its way into your dog’s digestive tract and causes inflammation.

Your dog may become infected with whipworms by swallowing infective whipworm eggs in the soil and other substances that may contain dog feces.

Roundworm eggs, on the other hand, may be transmitted from the mother to the puppy for its dormant larvae in their tissue.

Hookworms can be transmitted from feces or directly through the skin when the dog walks through wet grass or sand where the larvae are active.

Protozoans, Flukes or trematodes can also cause parasitic colitis.

  • Bacteria

Bacteria which cause colitis include Salmonella and Campylobacter. The bacteria can be derived from other animal feces which has the bacteria present.

  • Foreign Bodies or Dietary Indiscretion

Dogs that have ingested any nonfood material are prone to infection. The indigestible fiber caused by these foreign bodies irritates the colon and can cause inflammation.

  • Chronic Inflammatory Bowel Disease

This is composed of the diseases in the small and large intestines. Due to the presence of allergens; this attacks the lining of the intestine.

IBD is a condition wherein your dog’s protective cells invade and inflame the intestinal wall. When the immune system of the dog turns against the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, it causes an issue with the absorption of nutrients and the ability to digest properly.

  • Antibiotics

The intake of antibiotic has the tendency to destroy not only the infectious agents in your dog’s body but even the beneficial bacteria in the gut. This imbalance of the presence of bacteria in the digestive system can cause colitis in dogs.

  • Stress

This is one of the leading causes of colitis in dogs. Stress in dogs may be brought by having trauma in an environment which is scary or strange.

If your dog has a sudden symptom, this is probably stressed related. It is common after boarding, moving change in weather or any other change in the environment.

This kind, however, falls under Acute Colitis which in general is minor and only exists in short periods.

Likewise, due to stress, your dog may develop Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). IBS is common on highly excitable dogs as well. Typically, it has a neurological or psychological cause.

It is important to provide a safe and supportive environment for your dog so that it can lessen the possibility of your dog having stress colitis or Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Other causes include: Change in diet, food intolerance, and ingestion of poisonous substances, allergic reaction and cancer.

Symptoms of colitis in dogs

Generally, the indications of colitis in dogs include:

  • Your dog’s stoolis loose or semi-liquid
  • Defecation which is more frequent than the usual
  • Dog stool that starts normal and finishes loose
  • The quality of the stool which is more gooey or slimy than water
  • Your dog exhibits straining during and after defecation
  • Presence of bright red blood at the end of defecation
  • Presence of mucus or fat in the stool
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss, though rarely

If any of these signs is experienced by your dog for more than a day, it is an indication that you it might be better to bring your dog to the veterinarian. This to make sure that your dog will receive proper treatment and care, going to the veterinarian is important.

How to treat colitis in dogs?

Treatment of colitis in dogs will be based basically on the diagnosis. This process will definitely help your veterinarian apply the appropriate medication and treatment.

Basically, the diagnosis is based from your pet’s clinical signs and history. The initial evaluation which will be conducted by the veterinarian is normally isolated with the problem with the colon.

Depending on the cause, colitis in dogs may not be that apparent during a physical examination. The findings of the physical examination which often includes abdominal palpation are usually normal.

Diagnosis may also include microscopic evaluation of the feces, rectal examination, cytology and blood tests. Fecal samples may be examined to see if there is a presence of fungi and gastrointestinal parasites.

Examination of fecal samples may be though fecal floatation, direct fecal smear and fungal or bacterial culture.

Urinalysis can also be conducted as well as the examination of complete blood count and serum biochemistry profile. The results are usually unremarkable though, unless the cause of colitis in your dogs is that of systematic disease.

Additional testing includes radiographs to examine the colon and intestinal tract, colonoscopy and colon biopsies, barium enemas or ultrasound evaluation of the abdomen may likewise be necessary.

Colonoscopy, accompanied by taking multiple biopsies from different places of tissues lining the colon is a procedure for diagnosing the underlying cause of colitis in your dogs.

To do this procedure, general anesthesia or heavy sedation is required. To conduct this procedure, the veterinarian uses a wand-like instrument with a camera to be inserted at the anus and rectum up to the colon.

The camera makes the lining of the colon visible for the veterinarian to see areas which seems abnormal; which may be apparent if there are bumps, bleeding, inflamed or otherwise just not looking healthy.

If multiple biopsy samples of those areas were taken, it will be submitted to a diagnostic pathology laboratory for microscopic assessment. This process is called histopathology.

Dog Colitis TreatmentAfter the diagnosis, the treatment of colitis in dogs may now be more guided. The best treatment to be applied for the colitis is directed toward resolving the underlying cause of inflammation in the colon.

For the treatment, it is basic to avoid giving any food to your dog for 12-24 hours while experiencing symptoms. But it is of course important to give your dog plenty of fresh, clean water to avoid dehydration.

Accurate diagnosis should lead to the specific treatment designed for the condition. There are medications and strategies as adapted from the Veterinary Information Network, Inc. that can be useful in the management and treatment of colitis in dogs and this includes:

  • Metronidazole

This is an anti-inflammatory medication helpful in the large intestine as well as able to kill harmful organisms such as Clostridia and Giardia.

  • Sulfasalazine

This is a sulfa antibiotic surrounding a salicylate anti-inflammatory. The sulfa bond keeps an anti-inflammatory medication intact through the stomach until it reaches the large intestine.

  • Dietary Fiber

There are three types of fiber namely soluble, insoluble and mixtures. In general, veterinarians feel colitis is a fiber-responsive disease. The fibers are broken down into food for beneficial colon bacteria and to provide nutrients for colon cells.

  • Fructooligosaccharides or FOS

These are carbohydrates connected with fructose units that attach to glucose units.

While most carbohydrates are digested by the bacteria of the small intestine, FOS, while not fibers, are digested in the same way in the large intestine and yield the same bio-chemical as fibers.

This substance, based on tests has known to help remove pathogenic bacteria from the large intestine and promote the growth of good bacteria.

Diets containing FOS may help control colitis:

  • Elimination diet

Colitis can be caused by food intolerance, either to a specific food or to preservatives, dyes, fillers, contaminants or even the natural proteins in the food.

Your dog can also have an allergy to a certain food, such as wheat or corn. The best way to pinpoint these allergies is by feeding a pure diet, one that contains no food product in your dog’s current diet.

  • Treating Clostridium

Clostridium organisms are a group of anaerobic bacteria that are responsible for such diseases as tetanus, botulism and gangrene.

While some of these organisms normally live in the large intestine, they don’t cause problems unless the dog is stressed or has a diet change that allows them to overgrow.

Sometimes, a course of a Clostridial-killing antibiotic such as amoxicillin, tylosin, clindamycin and metronidazole will be administered as a test.

Prednisione is still the leading weapon in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, which must be diagnosed by biopsy.

Treatment of colitis especially that of Acute Colitis is not only limited to the use of the antibiotics but a study conducted says that it could be treated though traditional treatments specifically by using Probiotics.

To know of this treatment using Probiotics, you may check Why Give Antibiotics when this Natural Supplement Works Just as Well?

What to feed a dog with colitis?

The best dog food for colitis depends on the cause of the inflammation.

For colitis which may be caused by intolerance of grains in the diet, it is appropriate to switch their diet to a grain-free raw diet. Generally, you may want to:

  1. Avoid from all grains and starchy foods that take a long time to digest, like potatoes and corn.
  2. Limit the number of fiber (vegetables)
  3. Avoid dairy.

When your dog is experiencing colitis, some food supplements can be suggested; the best dog food supplement may include:

  • N-Acetyl Glucosamine (NAG)

This from of glucosamine helps repair the intestinal lining

  • L-glutamine and Slippery Elm Bar

This can also soothe the digestive tract and relieve inflammation

  • Fish Oil which can help break the inflammatory cycle in colitis

Giving you dog proper attention when it comes to their health is a way to prevent your dog to experience any illness, pain or disease. As already stated above, there are many causes of colitis, so it is better if you could think of ways on how to prevent the cause which could harm your dog.

As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure!

About Author:

I'm a dog food judge. I specialize in examining dog food nutrition so that I can recommend you food that will preserve your dog's health and extend his life. Good food will help you prevent dog health problems like obesity, diabetes, pancreatitis, gastroenteritis, nutritional imbalance, and many others. Also, by preventing serious illnesses you won't have to pay huge veterinarian bill later.

Leave a Reply