Acute Colitis in Dogs

Acute colitis in dogs is a painful condition that is described as the swelling of the colon lining. The most frequently met symptoms of colitis include diarrhea and abdominal pain. Acute colitis can be treated and measures must be taken to prevent the recurrence of the condition.

The Colon and Colitis

The colon is a part of the dog's large intestine which stores the feces, before it is eliminated. An infection of the colon causes the inflammation of the lining of the colon, which is known as colitis. If the small intestine of the dog is affected as well, the dog has entero-colitis.

Causes of Acute Colitis

The main causes of colitis in dogs are different viruses and bacteria that cause an infection. These viruses and bacteria can reach the dog's colon through the ingestion of different foods or non-food items that are infested with bacteria (i.e., garbage or feces). Other possible causes of acute colitis in dogs may include:

  • Intestinal parasites, which lodge in the intestines and may irritate them and disrupt the normal balance of the colon
  • Stress and anxiety, which weaken the immune system and make the dog more susceptible to developing intestinal infections
  • A cyst, polyp or tumor located in the colon or large intestine
  • An unsuitable diet that is rich in spicy ingredients

Symptoms of Acute Colitis

If the dog has chronic diarrhea and gas, these can point to an intestinal infection or colitis. The feces are very liquid and the dog may not be able to hold back and may defecate in the house. Other symptoms of colitis may include:

  • Blood or mucus in the feces
  • Worms or worm segments
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Chronic dehydration
  • Bloated stomach
  • Pain in the abdominal region and aggressive behavior when the dog is touched in this area
  • Stress, which can lead to chewing of the paws or excessive licking of fur
  • Whining and crying, especially when defecating

These symptoms are not necessarily indicative of an inflammation of the colon, so a few tests will be necessary to confirm the diagnosis.

Diagnosing Acute Colitis

Colitis is typically diagnosed with a stool sample analysis. The feces will indicate if the dog has an intestinal infection or worms. The vet may run a few additional tests if he suspects an underlying condition causing the inflammation of the intestinal lining.

Acute Colitis Treatment

Antibiotics are most often used to treat acute colitis. The antibiotics will get rid of the viruses and bacteria causing the swelling of the colon. If the dog is weakened or dehydrated, liquid therapy that is rich in vitamins will be recommended. Dewormers can be prescribed if the dog has intestinal worms. The vet may also recommend a more bland diet and a supplementation of fibers, which can help reduce the diarrhea until the colitis is fully treated.