The Symptoms of Colitis in Dogs

Updated February 21, 2017

Colitis is a general term used to describe a number of digestive afflictions that originate in the large intestine. It can be acute or chronic, and develop into ulcerative colitis, although that is rare. Colitis can be caused by stress or a more serious disease or infection. Treatment ranges from rest and a bland diet to the use of drugs and surgery.

Acute and Chronic Colitis

Colitis in dogs can be divided into two categories: acute and chronic. Acute colitis occurs suddenly and is often called stress-related colitis, as it is often caused by sudden stress in a dog's life, such as boarding or a move. Other causes of acute colitis can be diet-related, such as when the dog gets into the garbage and eats food not good for him. Chronic colitis lasts for a longer period of time. The cause of chronic colitis needs to be determined before treatment is undertaken.


The majority of dogs with colitis may act and look normal, other than having stool that contains more mucous than usual. The stool also may have tiny spots of blood in it. If the dog has severe colitis, he may vomit. He may also have pain when defecating and may avoid doing so for that reason, which could cause constipation. Dogs with colitis may experience an urgent need to defecate, and they may experience diarrhoea that is slimy. Weight loss is not associated with acute colitis, but it may be with chronic colitis.


Acute colitis is often caused by caused by the dog eating grass, dirt, or a foreign body, such as a small toy. Chronic colitis is much more serious, and a biopsy is usually ordered to find the cause. Causes for chronic colitis include parasites, bacteria or diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel disease or, more rarely, cancer.


The treatment of colitis can vary. Acute colitis is often left to run its course. If the colitis is caused by a bacteria, antibiotics are prescribed. Parasites are also treated with medication depending on which parasite is causing the colitis. Common drugs include azulfidine, metronidazone and sometimes prednisone, which is a steroid. In addition, bland diets are suggested for the dog, such as rice mixed with ground chicken, eggs or cottage cheese.

Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a rare form of colitis that occurs primarily, for unknown reason, in boxers and bulldogs. It is caused by an immunity defect that allows inflammatory cells to invade the walls of the large intestine, which inflames and harms the lining. The symptoms are the same as general colitis, only more severe. It is treated with a combination of medications and a bland diet that the dog may have to remain on for life.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author