What is Colitis in Dogs?


Medical Issues: Colitis in Dogs

Dogs are prone to different kinds of diseases and illnesses. When pet owners fail to provide the right food and healthcare, they put their dogs at higher risk of developing certain conditions. This is one of the reasons why it’s important that you take your dog to the vet for a regular checkup and for vaccinations, but it’s also an important reason why your pet’s diet matters; proper or improper nutrition can really affect your dog’s quality of life. As a pet owner, it’s also essential that you’re knowledgeable when it comes to handling your pet’s health. Among the most common health problems that dogs have is colitis, a digestive condition. If your vet has mentioned it to you or has already diagnosed your pup, it helps to learn more about colitis in dogs to prevent the problem from worsening. Even if your dog doesn’t have colitis, it helps to know how you can prevent it.

What is Colitis?

Colitis is a bowel disease that results in the thickening of a dog’s colon. The levels of this inflammation can vary greatly. It’s often caused by the infiltration of different cells in the intestinal and colon linings, and when there is inflammation in the colon, the organ’s ability to absorb water reduces. This also results in an inability to properly store faeces. In turn, this leads to diarrhoea that often presents with blood or mucus. Colon inflammation can occur in any dog, but according to several studies, boxers seem to be the most susceptible to developing this condition.

What Are the Symptoms?

When your dog has colitis, he will manifest certain signs and symptoms. One clear indication is that your dog will have more frequent bowel movements. The difference is that there will probably be a smaller-than-normal amount of stool each time and it will almost always be diarrhoea. There may be mucous or pieces of fat in the faeces. A dog with colitis also tends to vomit and experience weight loss. So, if your dog drastically loses its weight and he has no appetite, these are not good signs.

What Are the Causes?

Colitis has different causes. One of the main sources is an infestation of parasites in the intestines or in the rectum. Other possible causes include fungal infections, bacterial infections (salmonella and E. coli are common), and even algae infections. Aside from these possible causes, it could be that your dog might have swallowed an object that caused trauma to his intestines. Allergy can also be one of the causes. If this is the case, it’s important to identify the specific allergen and its source. If your dog is suffering from chronic diarrhoea, the tendency is for him to become dehydrated as well, and if the colitis persists, you may have to take your dog to the vet for intravenous rehydration. If there is scar tissue in the colon, your dog might have to undergo surgery. The same thing goes for fungal infection inflammation.

How Is It Diagnosed?

Many pet owners fail to take their dogs in for regular veterinary checkups. What happens instead is that they discover the dog’s illness later on when it’s harder to treat. Colitis is simply the presence of inflammation, and the root cause of the inflammation needs to be treated to eliminate the condition. This disease is diagnosed based on clinical signs along with a rectal examination and evaluation of a dog’s faeces. Aside from these tests, your dog will have to undergo X-rays to examine his intestinal tract. Your dog might also undergo an ultrasound evaluation. With the use of an endoscope camera, a veterinarian can easily see if your dog has colitis and thus can prescribe the right medication and treatment after taking blood tests.

The vet may have to take a stool sample or require you to do so at home. The choice about which diagnostic tests to perform often depends on how long the dog has been experiencing diarrhoea.

Treatment and Medication

The medications prescribed for dogs suffering from this health condition depend on the cause of the inflammation. If the inflammation is due to parasites, then the doctor will prescribe anti-parasitic drugs. It if is caused by an autoimmune reaction, your dog might have to take anti-inflammatory drugs. Bacterial infections are solved with antibiotics. In cases in which dogs fail to respond to medication, surgery is often needed.

Aside from the prescriptions and medications, home treatment is also essential. The food that your dog eats can affect his health. If your dog has colitis, then you have to be careful when it comes to the food you give him. Your vet may require your dog to have a high-protein diet, as a high-fat diet can exacerbate the colitis. Your dog might also be required to take supplements that induce better colon muscle contractions.

When Should You Take Your Dog to the Vet?

Ideally, you should take your dog for regular vet checkups and visits. If you notice that your dog has chronic diarrhoea and you also see the signs and symptoms of vomiting, fever, lethargy, blood in his stool, low appetite, and weight loss, you should take him to the vet immediately. Whether or not it is colitis, noticing these signs and symptoms might indicate another illness or disease. Only a veterinarian can thoroughly examine your dog’s condition.

Any dog breed can develop colitis, but there are certain dog breeds that are at a higher risk level. German Shepherds and Boxers are the most prone. However, young dogs are also prone to develop this condition because they are more likely to swallow things that may be contaminated. It’s also more common for younger dogs to develop infections.

Taking care of your dog requires more than just providing for his basic needs of food and shelter. You also have to make sure that he has regular health checkups, and if you notice any telling signs and symptoms, you should consult your vet right away. 

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Hayley Mae


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