Diagnosing Canine Colitis

Canine colitis is a condition affecting your dog’s digestive and intestinal tract. Canine colitis is a difficult disease to categorize, because it refers to a general upset in your pet’s system, not to one particular condition or symptom. Generally, colitis is a painful source of discomfort for pets, and can result in a number of intestinal problems, including diarrhea, excessive flatulence, vomiting and malnutrition due to inability to process foods properly. There are several techniques for diagnosing canine colitis.

Your Dog's Medical History

The first step toward evaluating and diagnosing canine colitis is a general physical examination and an overview of your dog’s medical history. This includes previous intestinal diseases, as well as history of the symptoms of colitis. The veterinarian will likely ask questions related to the disease, so it's helpful to be prepared with information related to your pet’s overall health, bowel movements and other health concerns. The home environment and stress levels can also be important factors.

Stool Sample and Analysis

The next step toward diagnosing colitis in dogs is a stool sample and analysis. Your vet will take a sample of your pet’s fecal matter in order to run tests to determine the nature of the intestinal upset. In some cases, visual examinations may show the presence of parasites or other harmful organisms. In others, your veterinarian will have to run a microscopic examination of the sample in order to determine the source of the upset. Parasites tend to be recognizable according to their eggs or waste matter, and these are only be visible with the help of a microscope.

Colonoscopy as a Tool for Diagnosis of Canine Colitis

If a general review of your pet’s medical history and an examination of his stool have still not produced sufficient evidence for a diagnosis, your veterinarian might order a colonoscopy exam. A colonoscopy is a procedure used to examine the inside of your pet’s colon, via a fiber optic camera that is inserted through the rectum. For a colonoscopy procedure, most veterinarians recommend anesthetizing the pet.

A colonoscopy will allow your veterinarian to examine the colon directly for further signs of infection, parasites or other indicators of colitis and other intestinal conditions.

Once a successful diagnosis has been made, your vet can recommend treatment and management plans to deal with your pet’s colitis. These may involve anti-inflammatory or antibiotic drugs like sulfasalazine. The treatment usually also involves a change in your pet’s diet to include more dietary fiber, or eliminating food ingredients that your dog is particularly sensitive to. Because colitis is exacerbated by environmental stress, it's also advisable to consider ways in which you can ease your pet’s stress and home life in order to help deal with his colitis.

While it may be difficult to completely cure canine colitis, a proper diagnosis is the first step toward managing the disease and restoring your pet’s health.