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Colitis in Dogs

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Causes of Colitis in Dogs

Colitis in dogs is the term used to depict an inflammation of the dog's colon. The dog's colon is often also known as the large intestine and it mainly consists of an intestinal segment through which the digested food passes once it has made its way through the stomach and small intestine.

The colon, therefore, is where the stools are stored until they are able to be evacuated through the rectum.

When the colon becomes irritated and inflamed, it produces typical symptoms. The most common symptom is obviously diarrhea, most of the time presenting in a gooey consistency with sometimes red fresh blood and mucous. The bowel movement may typically start solid in some cases and then end soft and gooey.

At a certain point, after going many times, the dog may still have the urge to defecate but will not produce anything: when this scenario arises, it is called "tenesmus". The term colitis is pretty generalized as the causes of the inflammation of the large intestine may be various.

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Colitis may present in an acute or chronic form. In the acute form, dogs will usually exhibit short-term symptoms with a sudden onset, while in the chronic form the symptoms may be ongoing for several weeks even eventually causing malnutrition and weight loss.

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-Parasites, Protozoans and Bacteria

Salmonella, E -Coli and Campylobactor bacteria may be a cause of colitis. When it comes to parasites, whipworms are often the most common to cause inflammation of the colon. Because parasites often do not shed eggs in the stool as they go through different life stages, a negative stool sample doesn't always necessarily mean a dog is free of parasites. Protozoans such as Giardia may be another culprit of colitis in dogs.


Parvo virus and corona virus are also capable of causing colitis. While most dogs are vaccinated against such diseases, puppies are very vulnerable until they have completed the whole vaccination series. Parvo puppies with vomiting and diarrhea are prone to life threatening dehydration.

-Food Intolerance and Sensitivities

[adinserter block="5"]Food intolerance is a challenging issue to deal with and when it causes colitis it can be really annoying. The best way to find the trigger of the intolerance is to put the dog on an exclusion diet.

There are various hypoallergenic diets that may be helpful but it takes time to see results. Dogs with sensitive stomachs may benefit from bland diets.

Dr. Jean Dodds has recently developed an interesting test for food intolerance in dogs called "Nutriscan."


Some animals are particularly susceptible to stress. Common triggers may be boarding, dog shows, recent moves and sudden changes. This stress causes their large intestine to become overactive leading to diarrhea with frequent evacuations. There are many other causes of colitis such as foreign bodies, overeating, scavenging, dietary indiscretion, polyps, tumors, hypermotile bowel, and in some cases, an exact cause may not be found. Treatment for dog colitis ultimately consists of taking care of the underlying cause after various diagnostic tests are performed.

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