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All You Need to Know About Colitis in Dogs

Written by: Helena Lawrence



Time to read 6 min

Colitis is an inflammatory condition that affects the colon and frequently affects dogs of all ages and breeds. If your dog has colitis they may experience pain, discomfort, and various digestive problems and as a dog owner it is important to know what to look out for and how you can help your pooch.

In this article we will give you a thorough overview of colitis in dogs, including its causes, symptoms, methods of diagnosis, available treatments, and most importantly what you can do to help stop your dog suffering from the condition in the first place.

What is Colitis?

The term "colitis" describes an inflammation of the colon. The colon is an important organ in the digestive system that stores and processes faeces and is critical for water and electrolyte absorption from digested food. When the colon becomes inflamed it stops functioning properly which can lead to a variety of gastrointestinal symptoms. It can also lead to your dog being uncomfortable and being in pain.

Causes of Colitis in Dogs

The underlying causes of canine colitis range from diet to infections and chronic illnesses. It is important to understand these reasons so it can be treated effectively and potentially prevented from happening. The main causes of canine colitis are:

  1. Dietary Factors: Colitis in dogs can be brought on by sudden changes in diet, especially when you introduce new foods too quickly. Additionally, eating food that has gone bad or that contains something your dog is allergic to can cause the colon to become inflamed.
  2. Bacteria or Parasites: Colitis can happen if your dog has either a bacterial infection, such as Salmonella or E.Coli, or a parasitic infection such as Giardia or Coccidia. These organisms disrupt the normal function of the colon, causing inflammation and gastrointestinal symptoms.
  3. Stress and Nervousness: If your dog is prone to experiencing stress and anxiety, these emotional conditions may affect their digestive system. Things like life changes, separation anxiety, or exposure to stressful conditions can cause the onset of colitis.
  4. Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A chronic disorder called inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is when your dog’s intestine becomes inflamed. It can cause colitis by affecting any digestive system component, including the colon. It’s thought your dog’s immune system wrongly targets the intestinal lining, resulting in inflammation and gastrointestinal discomfort.
  5. Medications and Toxins: The balance of the intestinal microbiota can be upset by some medications, including antibiotics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and chemotherapies, which can also directly irritate the colon and cause colitis. Colitis in dogs can also be brought on by exposure to pollutants, pesticides, or contaminated water sources.

Symptoms of Colitis in Dogs

Understanding the symptoms of colitis is essential for early detection and effective treatment. Different dogs can show different symptoms but the most common ones are:

  1. Diarrhoea: Dogs with colitis frequently have diarrhoea or loose stool. The faeces may be runny, mucus-filled, or even have blood traces..
  2. Straining and Difficulty Pooping: Canines with colitis may experience straining and pain while going to the bathroom. While trying to urinate, they could struggle, wail, or exhibit symptoms of discomfort.
  3. Painful tummy: Dogs with colitis may exhibit symptoms of constipation. They may exhibit bloating or soreness when touching their abdomen. Other signs of tummy pain in dogs include pacing, an inability to settle comfortably or sitting in a hunched position.

A thorough examination by a vet is essential because these symptoms might also be a sign of other gastrointestinal diseases. Additionally, each dog is different, as are the underlying causes and the intensity and length of the symptoms.

Diagnosing Colitis in Dogs

Veterinarians often use different techniques to identify colitis, which could include the following:

  1. Physical examination: Vets look at the dog's general condition, look for dehydration, and feel the abdomen to check for any pain or anomalies..
  2. Faecal Analysis: A faecal sample is analysed to check for presence of bacteria, parasites, or other abnormalities.
  3. Blood tests: Blood tests can assist in identifying underlying issues and assess your dog's overall health.
  4. Imaging Techniques: In some circumstances, the colon and other parts of the digestive system may be examined using imaging techniques such as ultrasound.

Treating Colitis in Dogs

Treatment of colitis in dogs focuses on easing symptoms, reducing inflammation and dealing with the root of the problem. Different treatments can be used depending on the underlying cause and how severe the colitis is. Below are the most typical treatments:

  1. Diet Changes: Changing your dog’s diet to a more digestible or hypoallergenic one can help manage colitis symptoms. A prescription diet or removing particular foods that may be contributing to the inflammation may be suggested by your vet. Smaller, more frequent meals can also help too.
  2. Medication: Vets may recommend drugs to treat dogs with colitis for inflammation, diarrhoea, and pain management. Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory medications that can inhibit the immune system and lessen colon inflammation. If there is proof of a bacterial illness, antibiotics may be provided.
  3. Probiotics: Supplements with beneficial bacteria can help balance the gut microbiota and enhance digestive health. These supplements can improve digestion, lessen inflammation, and encourage healthy bacteria growth in the colon.
  4. Stress Management: Reduced stress and anxiety are crucial for dogs with colitis because colitis can be aggravated by stress. Stress levels can be reduced by creating a peaceful atmosphere around your dog, offering mental stimulation, and allowing them time to relax.
  5. Support for Fluid and Electrolyte Losses: Dogs with colitis may have increased fluid loss and dehydration because of diarrhoea. To help stop your dog’s diarrhoea our Super Tummy Instant diarrhoea relief liquid helps firm up stools and also contains electrolytes, which are key in helping keep your dog hydrated. You should also make sure they always have access to fresh, clean water.
  6. Address Underlying Causes: If colitis is brought on by an infection or inflammatory bowel disease, treating the underlying condition is crucial for long-term care. This could mean taking additional drugs, including immunosuppressants for inflammatory bowel illness or certain antiparasitic meds for parasitic infections.

Your vet will create a personalised treatment plan based on your dog's unique condition and requirements.

Preventing Colitis in Dogs

Although canine colitis can be a stressful condition, there are several ways you can help reduce the risk of your dog getting colitis. To help your dog's digestive health and lessen the risk of colitis you can:

  1. Maintain a Stable and Balanced Diet: Maintaining good digestive function in dogs requires maintaining a stable and balanced diet. Avoid making abrupt dietary changes for your dog as they may upset the intestinal flora's delicate balance and cause colitis. Select a nutritious dog food that is of good quality and simple to digest.
  2. Fresh, Clean Water Access: Ensure your dog has access to clean water by regularly changing their water and making sure their bowl is clean. A dog must drink enough water for a healthy digestive system and to avoid constipation, which can make colitis worse.
  3. Regular Exercise and Mental Stimulation: Regular exercise and mental stimulation are essential for improving overall health, which includes a healthy digestive system. Daily physical exercises for your dog should include walks, playtime, and interactive games. Additionally, puzzle toys, obedience training, and scent work can stimulate the mind and enhance intestinal health by lowering stress.
  4. Prevention and control of parasites: Infections from parasites, such as worms and protozoa, can disrupt the digestive system and contribute to the onset of colitis. To keep your dog parasite-free you should make sure they have treatment for worms. You should also make sure to pick up your dog’s poop as soon as possible to stop bacteria or parasites spreading.
  5. Management of Stress: Dogs can be susceptible to stress, and long-term stress can harm their digestive health. Reduce environmental stressors for your dog and offer a tranquil, secure location for leisure. To help reduce stress, establish a consistent routine, give cosy resting spaces, and offer encouraging feedback. If your dog shows signs of stress or anxiety regularly you could try a calming supplement such as Peaceful Pooch or if they continue to experience a lot of stress you should speak to your vet or a dog behaviourist.
  6. Regular Vet Check-ups: To monitor your dog's general health and identify any potential problems early on, it is crucial to schedule routine checkups with your vet. They can carry out standard examinations, suggest the proper immunisations, and run faecal testing to find any underlying digestive issues.
  7. Good Hygiene Practices: Wash your hands before and after touching your dog's food and picking up their poop. To stop the growth of dangerous bacteria, thoroughly clean and disinfect food and water bowls regularly.
  8. Avoid Harmful Substances: Keep your dog away from toxic substances, including household chemicals, plants toxic to dogs, and medications not designed for dogs. Ingesting these substances can cause gastrointestinal irritation and potentially lead to colitis.

You can considerably lower the risk of your dog getting colitis and support a healthy digestive tract by implementing these preventative steps.


Colitis in dogs can harm their quality of life, but it can be properly controlled with the right diagnosis, care, and precautions. Early diagnosis of symptoms, early veterinary care, and a holistic strategy that includes medication, dietary changes, and stress reduction will help your dog feel better and regain their digestive health.