Colitis is an inflammation of the colon (large intestine). There are various factors that can bring on colitis in dogs including bacteria, stress, allergies, parasites and colon cancer. The tricky part is that most dogs with colitis look and feel normal. The most common signs are frequent bowel movements and a mucousy stool and/or diarrhea with maybe occasional red blood (not black and tarry). In more severe cases vomiting may occur. Dogs with chronic colitis may experience weight loss due to frequent bowel movements or a suppressed appetite due to discomfort. In some instances there may be severe pain during bowel movements causing the dog to hold it in, which can lead to constipation. In any case, the following are ways to treat a dog with colitis.
Observe the type and frequency of your dog's stool if you suspect colitis. Also be aware of other factors including your dog's diet, environment, stress factors and if there's straining involved.
Gather a stool sample from your dog or have your vet extract a stool sample to detect colitis. Depending on the results, a blood test may be ordered and in certain instances further testing may be done by way of radiography, colonoscopy or a biopsy.
If your dog is diagnosed with colitis, follow your vet's recommended treatment, which will depend on the cause of the colitis.
Special dog foods or foods that are easily digested such as chicken, rice, eggs and cottage cheese are often recommended for dogs with colitis. For chronic colitis, veterinarians will often prescribe a lifelong diet of these types of foods or a prescription dog food formulated specifically for dogs with colitis such as Hill's Prescription Diet i/d or w/d and Royal Canin Waltham Veterinary Diet Canine Intestinal formulas.
For dogs with colitis attributed to food allergies, veterinarians may recommend a lower fat, limited-ingredient, dog food such as Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance fish and potato, duck and potato or venison and potato or vegetarian formula. Many dogs are allergic to grain and do better with these types of foods than a formula such as Hill's Prescription Diet, which contains corn and chicken meal.
Antibiotics such as Metronidazole (Flagyl) are normally prescribed to help control bacterial causes and sulfa-containing drugs such as Azulfadine are often used long term to treat chronic colitis. In certain cases, steroids such as prednisone may be used.
Websites such as RXPETFOOD.com and animalhousemagazine.com (see links in Resources below) deliver prescription dog foods to your home. This is helpful for people who aren't able to transport the food from their vet's office or live in an area where the food isn't available. RXPETFOOD.com requires a pet owner's confirmation that the food was recommended by their veterinarian.
Dogs with colitis should be examined thoroughly before undergoing a course of treatment-if the actual cause turns out to be something other than the assumed cause, the treatment can cause more harm than good.