Intestinal problems

What Is Canine Colitis?

Ameera Mills
By Ameera Mills. Updated: September 2, 2018
What Is Canine Colitis?

See files for Dogs

It is very common for a dog to suffer from diarrhea. This looseness of the bowels can be caused by bacterial infections, ingestion of toxic chemicals, allergic reactions to food, or more. Diarrhea is caused by an alteration of the functionality of the digestive system. Depending on which area is affected,the condition can differ.

Canine colitis, for example, is a specific inflammation of the colon and large intestine. In this AnimalWised article, we will in fact be discussing what canine colitis is, its symptoms and treatment.

  1. What is canine colitis?
  2. Symptoms of colitis in dogs
  3. What causes colitis in dogs?
  4. How is colitis diagnosed in dogs?
  5. How to treat colitis in dogs?

What is canine colitis?

Colitis in dogs is due to an inflammation in the colon, also known as the large intestine. In this final part of the digestive system, the most amount of water is absorbed. Therefore, any condition that stems from this section of the intestine will result in the production of watery diarrhea.

Colitis is either acute or chronic. The type will manifest itself in different symptomatology, despite having the common symptom of diarrhea.

Acute colitis recurs in a short space of time. Whereas, if a dog is suffering from chronic colitis it will experience diarrhea for 2-3 weeks will possibility of recurrence. However not all diarrhea is considered to be colitis, as inflammation can occur in other areas of the digestive system, and therefore will hold a different name.

What Is Canine Colitis? - What is canine colitis?

Symptoms of colitis in dogs

You will notice that a dog suffering from colitis will be defecate 8-10 times a day in small amounts. This diarrhea might also appear somewhat mucusy and/or greasy. There might even be traces of blood in these feces. Their borborygmus will also increase, therefore you will hear grumbling and gurlging sounds coming from your dogs stomach. You may sometimes notice that your dog is having difficulty going to the toilet, and is presenting abdominal pain. It is possible that these difficulties might lead to a reddened and irritated anal area. This can sometimes be confused with constipation.

Acute colitis, which can be triggered by different reasons, is usually self-limiting, which means that it remits itself in a couple of days and generally does not affect the mood the dog’s condition. Chronic colitis, however, does affect a dog’s health and can result in thinning, vomiting and/poor decrease in hair condition.

What Is Canine Colitis? - Symptoms of colitis in dogs

What causes colitis in dogs?

In this section we will look at the main causes of colitis in dogs, which can result in either acute or chronic colitis:

Ingestion Problems

This section includes colon irritation caused by the consumption of undesirable foods, such as; garbage, toxic substances, some human foods or even a sudden change of diet. Sometimes it is the ingestion of a bone or another foreign body that can trigger this colitis. Allergies or food intolerances, which usually occur in young dogs, can also lead to chronic colitis.


Some intestinal parasites such as giardia or coccofia can cause colitis in dogs. The parasites result as infestations which is known to be more frequent in puppies or immunosuppressed dogs.

Inflammatory bowel disease

In the case of inflammatory bowel disease, colitis will be chronic. This denomination is grouped into a set of diseases, some relatively common, which can in fact be difficult to diagnose. Different types can be presented depending on the inflammatory cells which are found. These are treatable but often difficult to cure.


Infections can be caused by bacteria, viruses and fungi, specifically in dogs suffering from immune deficiency. Some examples of these infections are salmonella, E. coli or coronaviruses.

Irritable bowel syndrome

This syndrome is related to stress, so it can affect puppies and adults who are very nervous. The colitis will appear after stressful episodes.


Cancer can also cause colitis in dogs and most commonly affects dogs from 7-8 years of age.

How is colitis diagnosed in dogs?

If your dog is: a puppy, old, already diagnosed with a disease and not remitting signs of colitis, we suggest you go to your veterinarian as soon as possible. A vet will start a diagnostic protocol which can include various tests, such as; ultrasounds, x-rays, blood tests, an endoscopy or even a biopsy. A vet might also perform a coprological study, which means they analyse your dogs feces to see if there are any parasites present.

Sometimes, if the colitis is proving difficult to diagnose, the doctor might establish an empirical treatment. This treatment might include proposing a set diet specifically formulated for the treatment of intestinal problems.

How to treat colitis in dogs?

Treating colitis in dogs will depend on its cause and origin. In mild cases of acute colitis, which are likely to remit on their own, we can help the recovery by giving our dog a special digestive diet. To find out about this diet we suggest asking you veterinarian for suitable information. In the most serious cases, if dehydration occurs, we advise fluid therapy. This therapy will ensure that your dog’s fluids are replaced and ensuring it does not suffer from heavy dehydration. Pain medication may also be necessary.

If the cause is a parasite, to be able to cure this colitis in dogs, an appropriate dewormer must be administered. It will also then be important to establish a deworming calendar to avoid future problems. If the colitis is due to a bacterial infection, your vet should prescribe a pertinent antibiotic. In the case of tumor treatment; surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy might be necessary.

It is recommended to offer an animal that has been suffering from diarrhea, easy to digest foods. Chicken and white rice are known to be good options. As noted, there are many potential causes of colitis in dogs, therefore our veterinarian will be the person to establish the most appropriate diagnoses and treatment.

What Is Canine Colitis? - How to treat colitis in dogs?

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to What Is Canine Colitis?, we recommend you visit our Intestinal problems category.

Write a comment
Add an image
Click to attach a photo related to your comment
What did you think of this article?
1 of 4
What Is Canine Colitis?