Whippets resemble small greyhounds, with a deep chest narrowing to a wasp waist. Whippets are also more nervous than many other types of dog breeds. According to the "ASPCA Complete Guide to Dogs," this physical and temperamental combination makes the breed prone to digestive problems, especially colitis. So many whippets get colitis that it sometimes is called "whippet colitis." Colitis is a painful inflammation of the colon.
Colitis can be the result of irritable bowel syndrome, a bacterial infection, worms, a tumour or a blockage of the digestive system due to the whippet swallowing a small object. Because the whippet has such a narrow build, any internal blockage is dangerous.
Colitis can happen at any point in a whippet's life, but it is more common in older whippets, according to the 1992 American Whippet Club Annual (see References section). Colitis can be chronic or can come in sudden attacks. Once a whippet gets colitis, it is prone to more attacks for the rest of its life.
Common symptoms of colitis in a whippet include straining to defecate but only producing numerous, small, mucus-covered stools, sometimes with blood; passing more gas than usual; passing more foul-smelling gas than usual; and yipping or appearing to be stressed while trying to defecate, which indicates the dog is in pain.
According to "Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook," many dog owners see these symptoms and wrongly conclude their whippet has constipation. The difference is that constipation does not produce blood or mucus-covered stools. Also, whippets with constipation tend to produce only one or two tiny stools, while whippets with colitis will produce many tiny stools.
The 1992 American Whippet Club Annual recommends keeping your whippet from becoming overweight as a good way to prevent colitis. It also recommends that older dogs or less active dogs have a low-fat, high-fibre diet to prevent them from putting on excess fat. Also, feeding whippets table scraps of human junk food or lunch meat is not recommended.
The whippet and a recent stool sample need to go to the vet to diagnose exactly why the whippet has colitis. If it is the result of an intestinal blockage, then surgery may be necessary. Drugs given are antibiotics and sometimes cortisone. Long-term treatment is a change of diet.