The word colitis means inflammation in the large intestines or the colon and it is a condition that is often seen in dogs.
When food reaches the large intestines, the dog’s body has pretty much absorbed the nutrients, however, this part of the body is rich in different bacterial flora that helps even more in obtaining whatever is left in the ingested food.
This is also the part of the digestive system where the water from the food is absorbed, which is the reason why dogs get diarrhea when something is wrong with the intestines.
What are the types of colitis we see in dogs?
There are two forms of colitis that vets see in dogs:
-Acute: this means that it has a sudden onset of symptoms and in many cases, it can clear on its own. This may happen if the dog ingests something that is not good for them, some human food, or the owners decided to change the dry food that the dog used to be on.
-Chronic: as the name suggests, this is something that can last for weeks or in some serious cases even months. And this is usually a situation that requires a vet visit for further investigation and needed diagnostics.
What are the clinical signs owners see in dogs with colitis?
The most obvious symptom is diarrhea. However other things that usually go along with it are: painful abdomen, increased defecation but not a lot coming out, drops of blood may be noticed in the poop, as well as mucus and slime, vomiting, dehydration, and loss of appetite.
The symptoms may change from time to time and the duration of them also can change. In acute colitis owners usually just notice watery diarrhea that is gone the next day or the day after, while in chronic conditions the combination of these symptoms may be noticed for a longer period of time.
What causes colitis in dogs?
There are a number of reasons why colitis can occur. In many situations, it is food related when the owner either switches the regular food brand for another or chooses to give something off the table to the begging pooch with big puppy eyes. Other times this can be autoimmune or caused by parasites such as coccidia, giardia, or hookworms.
Other causes of colitis in dogs are:
- IBD (inflammatory bowel disease)
- swallowing a foreign body
- food allergy or any type of food intolerance
- colon cancer
- a secondary reaction to antibiotics
- contaminated food and water
- infectious nature
How do vets diagnose colitis in dogs?
Once you get your dog to the vet, as always he will ask you a list of questions about the onset of the signs, and how the poop looks like (yes we do ask those questions, and yes they are important for vets, we even request a photo sometimes), then suggest drawing blood for further investigation.
After that has been done, the vet will probably take x-ray photos and do a thorough investigation using the ultrasound. In some cases, he may ask the owner to collect some samples from the stool for further testing.
Can colitis in dogs be treated and how?
Yes, colitis is a very manageable pathology especially if the owners bring in their dogs on time. This usually resolves with some medication that your vet may prescribe and a bit of diet management for the following days. Dogs that don’t have that serious symptoms usually go back to being on their own in the next couple of days. However, more severe cases may require additional help from a good doctor, so he may suggest hospitalization.
In any case, the prognosis for the dog can be good, of course depending on the underlying condition that led to colitis in the first place.
The cost for treating colitis in dogs could probably cost between $100 and $300 if this is something that is not serious. Life-threatening situations, where the dog needs hospitalization or blood transfusion will probably cost around $1000.