Everyone loves dogs. Which is why when there’s a problem with our dogs, we want to do everything in our power to help them and prevent whatever is bothering them from ever happening again.
And many things can cause problems with our dogs; fleas, ticks, food allergies, pad problems, tooth or mouth issues – the list is almost endless!
But Colitis in dogs is a problem that could potentially affect any dog at any time. So knowing everything about it beforehand will help you to know exactly what to do when you notice it affecting your beloved pooch.
Continue reading to learn more about it.
A Quick Explanation of Colitis in Dogs
Colitis means “inflammation of the colon.” It happens when there is swelling in the digestive tract, leading to painful diarrhea that is often bloody and can cause potential damage to the large intestine. If your dog suffers from a chronic case of diarrhea, there’s a good 50% chance that he has colitis.
Sometimes, however, the opposite can occur and your dog will become constipated instead. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your dog’s bowel movements as a beginning step to figuring out if there are any potential problems.
In general, you don’t need to bring your dog to any emergency care when you suspect that your dog might have colitis, but it is a good idea to get into contact with your veterinarian and explain to them the details of the situation.
There are generally three kinds of colitis that can affect your dog: chronic, acute, and episodic.
Chronic means your dog’s diarrhea problem has continued on for a month or more, on a nearly daily basis. It occurs generally when there is a foreign body disrupting your dog’s digestion, such as a worm or other parasite, or perhaps when there are other kinds of diseases taking place at the same time.
Acute is the kind that comes on suddenly and without warning. This can be due to any number of things, such as stress or if your dog has eaten something they shouldn’t, or even just a simple change in dog food brands.
Episodic colitis occurs only from time to time, but with some kind of typical cycle. This type of colitis is fairly similar to acute colitis, but with a lesser intensity and suddenness.
In general, there are a lot of causes that can make it a little difficult to know just what to be on the look out to prevent it from happening. It can also make it more difficult for your vet to know how to diagnose the problem.
These causes include:
- Parasites in the intestine (such as hookworms, whipworms, and roundworms)
- Bacterial infection
- Too much stress (perhaps from moving, or boarding, or new animals in the house)
- Change in diet
- Foreign body in the digestive tract (such as grass, sticks, and plastic)
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Allergic reaction
- Viral infection
- Bad reaction to medication
- Bowel cancer (especially in older dogs)
Dogs are incapable of truly telling us when something is wrong. That means it will be up to you to check and make sure that your dog is feeling healthy and well. If you notice your dog is acting strange, keep an eye on him and take notice of his bathroom habits.
An overview of what you should look for includes:
- Fresh blood in the stools
- Mucus in the stools
- Passing a lot of gas
- Straining to defecate
- Urgency to go to the bathroom
- Dehydration (often from the loss of fluids)
If you notice any of these things, it’s time to get into contact with your veterinarian.
Once colitis has been diagnosed, it will be up to your doctor to come up with a treatment plan that will work best for your dog’s case. Colitis can vary in both origin and severity, so the exact treatment can be different from one case to another.
In most cases, however, you will be given a series of medicines to stop diarrhea and instructions on how to help your dog feel more comfortable. Treatment could also involve a specific kind of diet for a determined amount of time to give your dog’s digestion system an easier time, or a deworming plan so that you can be certain that all of the parasitic bodies are gone.
Things to Keep in Mind
Because there are so many different causes and varying symptoms for colitis in dogs, it can be difficult for a vet to come to a proper diagnosis. However, you can help your vet by keeping track of several different bits of information that will make this process a lot easier for them.
Keep track of all the symptoms. This includes all of the things your dog has shown during this and everything your dog is still suffering from.
Any recent changes in your dog’s food. This can be anything your dog eats, including the kind of daily dog food brand you have chosen and the specific types of treats you give him. Make sure to mention if your dog has eaten something they shouldn’t, as well.
Any recent interaction with other dogs. Such as going to a daycare, dog park or to a friend’s house. You should include if there has been any contact with other kinds of animals as well.
Share information about anywhere new you might have visited. It could be as big as going on vacation or just going to the next town over.
If your dog is often unsupervised. No one can know just exactly what a dog gets up to when you’re away at work, but it’s a good thing to mention to a vet regardless.
It’s nearly impossible to prevent every single potential cause of colitis in dogs. Stress, for example, can happen to any dog for a hundred different reasons.
However, keeping your dog well-hydrated and going out for regular walks are great ways to start.
Get a food brand that is high in fiber. Make sure to stay current with your dog’s latest medication and deworming pills. Give them the right kind of dog vitamins to really help them stay healthy.
Also, don’t let your dog eat things that are bad for him, such as grass, fabric, and bones from your own table. If you are going to leave your pooch alone for an extended period of time, check to make sure your dog can’t get into things that could cause harm.
In the United States alone there are over 42.5 million households with pet dogs in their care. With their cute muzzles, floppy ears, and unerring loyalty, we can’t help but love them.