Guide to Colitis in Dogs Causes,Symptoms,Treatment

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What is colitis in dogs symptoms and Causes?

Colitis refers to inflammatory disease affecting large intestine (colon) in dogs, that characterized by soft watery diarrhea

There are several different things that can cause Colitis in dogs as .Whatever the colitis in dogs

cause, the inflammation in the large intestine results in the following

  • increase motility of the gut.
  • increase secretion.
  • decrease water absorption.

this causes the main sign of colitis of frequent soft watery diarrhea.

Foreign Body

  • Foreign Body Colitis is fairly common in dogs, although it tends to be intermittent in nature.
  • Some dogs have a condition called pica, which is a compulsion to eat things that are not actually food. Unfortunately, this condition greatly increases the chances of catching a temporary case of Colitis. Dogs that are constantly eating grass can also fall victim to Colitis due to their body’s inability to digest the fibers properly.
  • This is primarily a cause of colitis in dogs that have a breed-based oral fixation, such as Labradors. If a dog has an oral fixation, it means that they have an instinctual desire to chew or carry objects in their mouth.

This often leads to the swallowing of foreign objects, and may cause colitis.

Parasitic Infections

  • Another cause of Colitis can be parasitic organisms.
  • There are many different types of parasites that can infect dogs, and many of these can result in colitis.
  • Whipworms are one example, as they can take refuge in the upper colon.
  • Another major parasite that causes colitis is canine giardia.
  • The giardia parasite resides in the intestines and contributes to many gastrointestinal symptoms, one of which is colitis.


Colitis can also be caused by certain types of cancers, particularly lymphosarcoma and adenocarcinoma cancer. In layman’s terms, these cancers are characterized by tumors in any number of organs in the GI tract.

A tumor can result in the obstruction of the small or large intestine, which may or may not require surgical intervention. However not all cancer needs to be removed surgically, and may instead be treated by chemotherapy or other anti-cancer veterinary procedures.

Bacterial infections

  • The last major cause (also generally recognized to be the most common cause) of colitis in dogs is a bacterial infection. Exposure to certain bacteria may result in colitis.
  • The most common types of bacteria that cause colitis in dogs are those bacteria that affect the gastrointestinal tract. These include Salmonella, Shigella, Campylobacter, and Yersinia.
  • Out of these, Salmonella is the most common bacteria, as your dog can easily become exposed to it.
  • Salmonella is usually spread by a fecal-oral route, meaning that a dog will commonly ingest materials that are contaminated by the Salmonella bacteria.
  • Salmonella, like all bacterial infections of the gastrointestinal tract, may cause irritation of the colon, and subsequent Colitis.
  • Bacterial Colitis is usually treated by the administration of specific antibiotics.

Symptoms of Colitis in Dogs

1-Soft, Watery Stools

  • A dog that is experiencing colitis will usually display a noticeably soft, watery bowel movement when they defecate. However, this symptom alone is not necessarily indicative of Colitis, since it may be a symptom of a temporary gastrointestinal condition, as well as several other medical conditions that involve the gastrointestinal tract.

2-Chronic Diarrhea

  • Most dogs that are affected by colitis will experience chronic, noticeable diarrhea.
  • This will usually be present over an extended period of time.
  • Diarrhea is characterized by loose, inconsistent bowel movements, which may occasionally manifest entirely as a liquid waste substance. As with many of the other symptoms of Colitis in dogs, diarrhea alone is not a positive indication of Colitis.

Diarrhea is a symptom that is present with many other medical conditions, such as parasitic infections, viral infections, and several others.

However, chronic diarrhea is usually indicative of a health problem and should be reason enough to seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.

3-Frequent Bowel Movements

  • In many cases, dogs with colitis will pass bowel movements more frequently than is normal for a healthy dog.
  • This will be evident, since a dog may whine to be let outside more often than usual.
  • If your dog is kept primarily outdoors, you may see them assuming the “pooping” pose (back legs squatted, tail up) on a regular basis.
  • Since it may be difficult to distinguish between a “normal” number of bowel movements and an “excessive” number, it may be easiest to first identify other symptoms of Colitis.

4-Difficulty Passing Bowel Movements (Tenismus)

  • When passing a bowel movement, dogs with Colitis will usually have significant difficulty in producing a stool.
  • This may or may not be accompanied by other symptoms, since it may be difficult to recognize diarrhea or loose stools in a dog that may not be able to produce a bowel movement.
  • In many cases, this symptom will be accompanied by noticeably frequent bowel movements.
  • If your dog is attempting to make bowel movements on a regular basis, but is only able to produce a small amount of stool (or none at all), you will need to seek veterinary attention immediately.

5-Weight Loss

  • Many dogs with Colitis will experience a gradual (but noticeable) loss of body weight.
  • This occurs most frequently over a period of time, though may accelerate if not recognized.
  • This may be accompanied by secondary symptoms, such as hair loss, malnutrition, and lethargy.

Diagnosis of Colitis in Dogs

When attempting to diagnose Colitis, a veterinarian will usually implement several different diagnostic procedures in order to form an accurate diagnosis.

General Examination and Patient History

Most veterinarians will attempt to get a general history of a dog’s past illnesses, recent interactions and current symptoms during the general examination. If a veterinarian suspects that a dog is being affected by colitis, they may ask specific questions. To best help your veterinarian with their diagnosis, it is best to have a general knowledge of your dog’s symptoms beforehand. This includes the texture or appearance of your dog’s bowel movements, the frequency with which your dog has bowel movements, and if your dog has recently lost weight.

Other questions a veterinarian may ask when diagnosing a dog for colitis involve a dog’s general home environment, stress factor, and diet. If you are able to clearly and accurately answer all of these questions, you will help your veterinarian in forming an accurate diagnosis.


In some cases, a veterinarian will need to obtain direct visualization of a dog’s colon and some sections of the small intestine. To do this, a colonoscopy is performed. A colonoscopy involves the examination of the colon by a fiber optic camera that is inserted through a dog’s anus. The camera is encased inside a flexible tube and allows a veterinarian to gain detailed knowledge about the condition of a dog’s colon.

Fecal Analysis

Fecal analysis is a commonly used procedure for veterinarians when diagnosing a dog with Colitis. A general visual examination of a dog’s fecal matter may help a veterinarian identify any parasitic organisms, foreign objects, or undigested materials. This examination can help identify the cause of the Colitis, and may aid greatly when selecting a treatment option. A microscopic examination may also be performed, to gain further insight into any possible abnormalities present in a dog’s fecal matter. Some parasites may shed waste matter, eggs or living organisms into a dog’s stool. Some of these parasites are visible to the naked eye, but some may only be visible with the aid of a microscope.

Trypsin-Like Immunoreactivity Test

If the cause is suspected to be related to improper digestion, a veterinarian may perform a TLI Test. This test evaluates the pancreas, and its ability to properly digest food materials. If this test is indicative of a digestive problem, a veterinarian can select an effective treatment.

Treatment for Colitis in Dogs

There are several different treatment options available for treating colitis in dogs. When choosing the most effective treatment, a veterinarian first needs to take into account the cause of a dog’s Colitis. This is very important in choosing the best treatment option for curing a dog of Colitis.

Anti-Worming Medication

If a dog’s colitis is being caused by a parasitic infection, a veterinarian may prescribe anti-worming medication as an effective treatment. Each anti-worming medication works differently, and many of these medications have visible side effects. Some medications paralyze the parasitic organism, so that it can be either digested or passed through a dog’s system.

Some medications help eradicate parasitic infections by specifically targeting harmful organisms. Since each type of parasite may have a different type of medication that is most effective, it’s important that a veterinarian positively identifies the type of parasite that is causing the Colitis (such as whipworms, Giardia, tapeworms, etc).

Therapeutic Diet

In some cases, an irritated bowel may cause a dog to experience Colitis. If a veterinarian positively identifies this to be the cause, proper treatment can be started. Most dogs that have chronic Colitis will be put on a special “Therapeutic Diet” by a veterinarian. These diets are specifically designed to eliminate certain ingredients that may be causing a dog’s bowels to become irritated.

Each veterinarian may take a different approach to a Therapeutic Diet, but many veterinarians recommend easy-to-digest foods such as chicken, rice, cottage cheese and eggs. However, this type of diet is largely dependent on a dog’s individual nutritional needs.


If a veterinarian identifies a dog’s colitis to be caused by a bacterial infection, several different types of antibiotics may be prescribed.

An example of an antibiotic that is used to treat Colitis in dogs is called Metronidazole, which also goes by the brand-name “Flagyl”. Depending on a dog’s specific type (and severity) of bacterial infection, a veterinarian may prescribe one or several different antibiotics.

Anti-Cancer Treatment

If a veterinarian discovers that a dog’s Colitis is being caused by a cancerous tumor, several different treatment options may be available. Chemotherapy is an option, though is usually only used for severe tumors that can not be easily removed. If a tumor is able to be removed without much difficulty, a veterinarian may recommend surgically removing the tumor as the best course of treatment.

In some cases, simple oral medications may be prescribed as an anti-cancer treatment. For any anti-cancer treatment option, the type of treatment depends largely on the location, size, and type of cancer that has been discovered.

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