What is colitis?
Colitis is inflammation of the colon, or large intestine. Colitis is one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders in dogs. It does occur in cats, although less often.
What are the symptoms of colitis?
Animals with colitis will have diarrhea, often with mucus or fresh blood in the stool. When the colon becomes inflamed, the pet feels an urgency to have a bowel movement. So, a dog or cat with colitis will often have inappropriate accidents in the house and even after the colon is empty, may continue to strain as if trying to go. This nonproductive straining can be confusing to an owner who often misinterprets this symptom as constipation.
What causes colitis?
There are various causes including parasites, bacterial infections, and dietary problems. The most common cause of colitis is stress. This stress is often associated with activities that are scary to the pet like boarding, guests in the house, and thunderstorms.
How is colitis treated?
If the specific cause can be determined, therapy is directed at the source. For instance, if an infection is found, antibiotics are prescribed. Reducing the inflammation in the colon is also important. High fiber diets are also very helpful in the treatment and in the prevention of colitis.
What should an owner do if they suspect their dog has colitis?
Seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Avoid events that you know may be stressful for your dog. Ask your veterinarian for a higher fiber diet, specially if your dog seems prone to colitis.