How to Treat a Dog With Colitis

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Monitor your pet's poop on your daily walks for signs of intestinal issues.
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It's not unusual for a dog to experience an occasional bout of loose stools or diarrhea. Slimy feces that lasts more than a day could indicate more than mild intestinal upset, including the inflammation of the colon called colitis. Also known as large bowel diarrhea, colitis can come on suddenly or gradually.


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Colitis in Dogs

Your dog's colon, also known as his large intestine, takes over once the small intestine has done its work of absorbing nutrients from food. The actual feces develop in the colon. When a dog's colon is inflamed, it can no longer store fecal material effectively. If your dog suffers from diarrhea, your vet must determine whether the loose stools came from the small or large intestine. Colitis can result from various infections, including salmonella, as well as allergies, stress and the consumption of bad food.

Colitis Symptoms

Dogs suffering from colitis often have blood or mucus in the feces, more "goopy" than watery. There's an urgent and frequent need to go, but less fecal material is excreted in each subsequent bowel movement. Unlike dogs with long-term small intestine diarrhea, canines with colitis usually don't lose weight. Your dog's colitis episodes might occur regularly or come and go. If your dog's diarrhea doesn't clear up in a day or two, take him to the vet for an examination.


Colitis Diagnosis and Treatment

Your vet will need a fecal sample to make her diagnosis. She'll have to rule out common causes of diarrhea -- such as parasite infestation -- and culture the sample for various bacteria. She'll also conduct blood tests and perform a rectal examination on your dog. Initial treatment might consist of fasting the dog for up to two days, allowing the colon to heal. Your vet might recommend dietary changes or the addition of fiber supplements to your dog's food. She might prescribe anti-inflammatories and medication to treat any conditions found to contribute to your dog's diarrhea. Most dogs recover well from a colitis bout.


Severe Colitis Treatment

If your dog doesn't respond to basic colitis treatment, more tests and treatment are necessary. Tests might include a colonoscopy, so your vet can get a good look at your dog's bowel and obtain biopsy specimens. Before the colonoscopy, your dog must fast for up to 48 hours and receive an enema. Your veterinarian might prescribe medications such as Loperamide to decrease intestinal motility, or Tylosin, an antibiotic that targets certain gram-positive and gram-negative bacterias responsible for diarrhea.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.