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Colitis In Dogs – Symptoms & Treatment

Colitis In Dogs

Colitis is a multifactorial disease characterized by chronic inflammation of a dog's colon distinguished by the presence of inflammatory cells (chronic enteropathies) which cannot be associated with other possible health conditions.

Also called large bowel diarrhea, the continuing inflammation damages the large intestine, and this inflammation interferes which impairs the ability to digest and absorb nutrients which in turn leads to other health problems.

The main reasons for colitis inflammation include allergic colitis, infections (including Clostridium, E. coli, and Salmonella), parasites (whipworms, Cryptosporidium, and Giardia ), primary inflammatory bowel disease (eosinophilic, lymphoplasmacytic, histiocytic and granulomatous types), stress and trauma.

One of the important causes of large bowel diarrhea in dogs is stress-related colitis. Coming in contact with other infected dogs, always in a wet environment, and ingesting contaminated food are also other reasons for colitis inflammation.

Symptoms Of Colitis

  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Chronic vomiting
  • Weight Loss
  • Hyporexia to anorexia
  • Flatulence
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Increased frequency of defecation with decreased volume.
  • Ascites

Treatment Options For Colitis

The Treatment depends upon the underlying cause and extent/severity of the problem.

Medications for medical conditions should be provided only as required.

Antibiotics: Metronidazole, tylosin, or oxytetracycline.

Anti-inflammatory and Immunosuppressive Therapy: Prednisolone or prednisone, Cyclosporine, Chlorambucil, Budesonide, or Sulfasalazine.

Dietary Management:

  1. Switch over to a diet that leads to antigenic modification (eg, protein hydrolysate, novel protein source).
  2. Exclusion diet: Removal of ingredients that a dog has previously encountered.
  3. A homemade balanced diet is an alternative to commercial diets.

Home Remedies For Colitis

Vitamin B12 Supplementation: Colitis dogs are unable to absorb this important vitamin essential to growth, hematopoiesis, and cell reproduction.

Injection: 50 mcg/kg/2 weeks, Oral: 100 to 200 mcg/kg once daily.

When dietary change gets a good response, that particular diet can be maintained for some time as long as it is balanced.

Prevention Of Colitis

  • Protect your dog from infections, ingestion of toxins, and hyperacidity.
  • Use pain relievers regularly for dogs with caution.
  • Use NSAIDsthat are less likely to cause ulcers.
  • Avoid extreme exertion (sled dogs or other working dogs) as it can increase stomach acid that can overwhelm the mucosal barrier.
  • Change your dog's diet to control excess production of stomach acid.

Affected Breeds Of Colitis

Basenji, Boxer, French Bulldog, Border Collie, German Shepherd, Irish Setter, Norwegian lundehund, Rottweiler, Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier, Weimaraner. There is no breed disposition.

Additional Facts For Colitis

  1. Causes:

The colitis etiology is not understood properly. Indeed, it appears to have several causes. Whatever may be the cause, the outcome is the inflammation of the lining of the large intestine.

However, possible causes include:

  • Abnormal immune response due to bacterial or parasitic infection (coli, Giardia, or Salmonella).
  • Hypersensitivity to a specific protein in their food.

Other Factors include:

  • Genetics
  • Microbial factors
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Pancreatitis
  • Bowel cancer in older dogs.
  • Environmental factors
  • The mucosal immune system and immune responses.
  1. Types:

Acute Colitis: Sudden onset and most destructive.

Chronic or recurring colitis: This lasts for several weeks or even longer.

  1. Mortality:

Death from colitis is rare. With proper treatment, most dogs with colitis can enjoy a good quality of life.

  1. Diagnosis:
  • A complete blood count (CBC).
  • Electrolyte tests
  • X-rays and Ultrasound
  • Colonoscopy tests
  • Pancreas tests to rule out pancreatitis.
  • Viral infection tests to rule out viral infections.
  • Fecal smears / Cultures / PCR testing
  1. Prognosis:

The recovery is guarded depending on the type of colitis your dog is suffering from. For dogs having chronic colitis, the short-term prognosis is good but there will be recurrent relapses.

When To See A Vet

Contact your vet right away, if you notice any of the following:

Food Suggestions For Colitis

The 5 Rules of dietary management:

  • Establish a plan for dietary change.
  • Plan your menus considering the nutrient requirements.
  • Always look for a balanced diet considering energy needs.
  • Check with your vet and offer the right food.
  • Know your odds; think about what foods you must avoid.

What to feed?

  • An allergen-free (hypoallergenic) balanced diet (check for thickeners, coatings, flavors).
  • Choose a wholesome food, minimally-processed, that is free of preservatives, chemicals, hormones, and other toxic additives. Keep away from butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and ethoxyquin.
  • Try an elimination diet after food sensitivity testing. Many prescribed medications for an autoimmune disease can cause GI and non-GI woes.
  • Consider a diet with all essential nutrients and also provides plenty of antioxidants (combat free radicals).
  • Consider a probiotic supplement with added support for the liver.


When there is an underlying reason for your pet’s colitis, such as a disease, infection, or cancer, then your vet may recommend further diagnosis as that condition must be treated in addition to the intestinal ulcer itself.

Mostly, colitis is treatable and is not fatal to the dog. However, untreated colitis may lead to other complications like perforations in the intestinal wall and anemia. When treated appropriately, colitis won't cause danger to the pet’s life in most cases.

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