Colitis is one of the most common conditions that we see in dogs with digestive issues.
When you notice your dog straining to pass faeces and appearing uncomfortable and anxious, and the faeces are flecked with blood and mucus (as shown in the slightly graphic image of the Springer Spaniel – apologies) then we tend to diagnose colitis in your dog.
Some owners bring in samples of the faeces to the consultation, or others take photos and show them to me on their phones, but the flecked red blood and straining is the give away. Your dog is also usually well with no vomitting but the sight of blood is always a concern to owners.
As it is an inflammatory change in the colon which is the last section of the gut loops where water is resorbed; the thickened walls result in a feeling of constant fullness which is why your dog strains thinking that there is something to pass, but all they do is strain the blood vessels and prevent the proper water resorption from occurring which is why it has a ‘jelly-like’ coating with the flecked blood.
What causes colitis?
The main cause of colitis is stress! A little like inflammatory bowel disease in humans, the bowels in our dogs are very susceptible to changes in your dog’s routine causing stress – whether that be a change of food, visitors, visits to a kennel, vet or grooming parlour, they can end up with signs of colitis.
As it is an inflammatory change in the colon, allergic food reactions are also culprits in causing recurrent colitis. This can be to a number of allergens that your dog may eat, but remember that the main food allergens in dogs are beef, dairy, wheat, lamb, egg, chicken, soya, pork, corn, rabbit and fish – in that order.
Other allergic reactions can occur to medication that your dog may be given as happened with Baxter shown below.
Baxter is a highly sensitive boy who adores his owner and has suffered with such severe gut issues and pain from an animal protein intolerance, that he can only eat a 100% plant-based diet to resolve his gut pain.
With this sensitivity in his gut, comes an overall sensitivity to everything and any change or added medication he may be given. He went to be neutered and was sent home with an anti-inflammatory after the operation (Metacam). His owner contacted me as he was so concerned about flecks of fresh blood in Baxter’s faeces, and he worried that his gut issues may be returning.
I reassured him that he had all the signs of colitis and that he was not to change Baxter’s food – just feed a light meal of mashed sweet potato and cooked green beans to settle his stomach, and continue with his daily Solo-Vegetal.
Baxter did recover quickly and is back to his happy self, and his owner is now aware of any changes that may unsettle Baxter and to expect the odd outbreak of colitis in his sensitive Weimeraner!
Oslo is a dear little rescue with very dedicated owners who under my supervision, feeds her a 100% plant-based puppy diet. She loves her food and is doing so well, but her owners contacted me as a matter of urgency as they noticed flecks of blood in her faeces, but also in her urine and staining her beautiful white fur.
She was well and happy in herself, and again I reassured Oslo’s owners that she was possibly suffering from colitis due to coming into season for the first time – even that can be a stress in our dogs with all the hormone changes happening!
What treatment is there for colitis?
It is important to do some dietary elimination trials in your dog if they do suffer from regular bouts of colitis as shown with Mary below who transitioned to a 100% plant-based diet to resolve her issues.
Little Mary the Boston Terrier from Portsmouth was a rescue at 3 years old. She suffers from epilepsy, arthritis, colitis and had awful dandruff and was very underweight when her owners rescued her. She tried all diets with her and vegan home cooked worked the best for her. She’s now the perfect weight and her colitis and skin have improved vastly.
What about severe cases?
Some dogs may suffer so badly from regular colitis without owners knowing the true cause of their intolerances and vets are quick to treat these cases with a particular type of antibiotic that acts as an anti-inflammatory in the large intestine. It is effective and severe cases will respond to this treatment, but if the underlying cause of the colitis is not found and the dog continues to be fed wheat or dairy or meat or a certain medication that may cause the issues, then it will keep returning.
This is such a worry as one treatment of the antibiotic used as prescribed by your vet (Metronidazole or Metrobactin), results in your dog’s good gut bacteria being affected for up to 18 months – it takes 18 months for all those good gut bacteria that are the source of your dog’s health, immunity and vitality to recover with antibiotic treatment and we definitely do not want that!
The best treatment that we recommend for recurrent cases where your dog keeps getting bouts of colitis, is to use a probiotic instead of having to resort to antibiotics. We have sourced online Pro-Kolin for you that we dispense in veterinary practices, as it contains valuable probiotics as well as pectin to help bind the soft faeces.
Another good produce is from Viovet called ReguTum that is possibly a little cheaper than Pro-Kolin.
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