Symptoms of Colitis in Dogs

Colitis in dogs is the inflammation of the large intestine, also known as the bowel. Colitis is a general term that covers a variety of ailments with different causes, ranging from irritable bowel syndrome to acute colitis. No matter the variety of colitis your dog has, prescription treatment should be sought to alleviate the problem.

Symptoms of Colitis

Dogs diagnosed with colitis quite frequently look and act normally, with the exception of occasional blood and mucous in their stool. Other symptoms may lead you to take a trip to the veterinary hospital.

  • Chronic diarrhea that lasts for several days is an indicator of colitis. Because diarrhea can be indicative of any number of diseases, it's important that your dog see his veterinarian when diarrhea lasts more than 24 hours.
  • Soft or loose bowel movements can also be indicative of colitis. Because the large intestine, or colon, is irritated, your dog’s system may react by trying to soften the stool in order to make it move more easily through the bowels.
  • Because defecation may be painful for your dog, constipation may occur as he tries to avoid the pain associated with a bowel movement. You may notice your dog squatting more frequently, trying to get a stool to pass with no success.
  • Frequent bowel movements can also indicate colitis. Your dog’s body is simply trying to empty the colon in order to remove the material creating irritation in the bowel.
  • Weight loss can be an indicator of colitis. While the loss of body mass is gradual, it is still a noticeable occurrence. The weight loss can also be accompanied by loss of hair, malnutrition and dehydration.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Colitis

A rectal exam and biopsy of the colon wall will determine the cause of the colitis, and a fecal exam will identify if colon parasites exist and are causing the problem. The cause of the colitis will determine how it is treated. If the caused is a bacterial infection, treatment will include antibiotics to eliminate the presence of the bacteria. Your dog may be prescribed a bland diet to help calm his digestive tract and minimize the irritation he’s been experiencing. A bland diet typically consists of cottage cheese and rice. Depending upon the severity of the colitis and whether it keeps returning, your dog may be placed on a bland diet for the balance of his life.

For the majority of dogs, colitis rarely occurs. It tends to happen more frequently in the summer, as dogs are more apt to spend time outdoors and are exposed to odd or unusual things that they feel they must eat. Because colitis can also be stress induced, the occurrence of summer thunderstorms and fireworks can set off a bout of colitis. No matter the cause, your dog should be checked out if he’s exhibiting the symptoms of colitis, and then treatment recommended in order to alleviate the problem and return him to a healthy state.