What you are describing in your dog sounds like she may have colitis. This is an inflammation of the colon.
With colitis, dogs tend to have one or more of the following:
- more frequent bowel movements,
- a sense of urgency (which can lead to accidents in the house),
- frequent, non-productive straining, and
- mucus and even blood on the stools.
The stools often start out a bit soft, or pudding like and become gelatinous, shiny and mucoid as it progresses. The colon normally makes mucus to help the stool to pass along, so when it is inflamed it makes a lot of mucus, and also can have erosions that lead to bleeding.
Constipation is quite rare in dogs, and colitis is REALLY common. With constipation, dogs usually pass little hard "rabbit droppings" and continue to eat quite well. So, I do think that this is colitis and NOT constipation, though a rectal exam would be the only way to really be sure.
Colitis could be caused by a large number of different things. Examples are stress, dietary indiscretion (eating something she shouldn't have), bacterial and viral infections, and parasites. In a sensitive dog, even a one-meal food change could trigger this. It could be due to the bully bone.
If a dog with no history of stress were to come in to my hospital, and we didn't have to consider money (so I could do all the tests I would want to do!) I would start with a physical exam and then a number of tests:
- fecal analysis to rule out hookworms, whipworms and coccidia
- an ELISA test for Giardia. Giardia used to be hard to diagnose, but this test is fast and easy and accurate.
- a fecal smear to look for Campylobacter
- a fecal culture (sent out to a lab) to check for Clostridium or other unusual bacteria. This test takes 3-4 days.
Then, if the dog were my patient, I would see how the dog responded to treatment as follows:
- fibre trial - I would start the dog on Metamucil or canned pumpkin (not pie filler). I usually suggest 1 tsp per 10 lbs body weight given 2 or 3 times a day of Metamucil, or 2 tablespoons twice daily per 10lbs body weight of Pumpkin. Do this for at least one week.
- medication trial:
I would try metronidazole (http://www.petplace.com/drug-library/metronidazole-flagyl/page1.aspx) as a first line treatment but there are a number other drugs that can be helpful too:
Panacur (fenbendazole, http://www.petplace.com/drug-library/fenbendazole-panacur/page1.aspx) ,
Tylosin (http://www.petplace.com/drug-library/tylosin-tylan/page1.aspx )
and even steroids (prednisone http://www.petplace.com/drug-library/prednisone-prednisolone/page1.aspx )
Now, in terms of what people can do at home for dogs that I have seen and diagnosed with colitis, I suggest the following:
1. When she has an episode of diarrhea and/or straining, you should WITH-HOLD FOOD! Do not offer her regular food for 24 hours. This gives the intestines a chance to rest and heal.
*****While she is off her regular food, you can start 2 tablespoons per 10lbs body weight of canned Pumpkin given twice daily. Be sure to use plain canned pumpkin and NOT pie filler!****
2. When she is fasting, she can have lots of clear fluids.
So, water is fine, but also she can have pedialyte, Gatorade, apple juice diluted 50:50 with water, or onion free chicken or beef broth diluted 50:50 with water. Give the fluids in small amounts frequently. For a dog this size that means about 1 cup an hour.
3. After 24 hours if the straining has stopped, you can start your dog back on a bland diet.
For patients that I see, I recommend a mixture of 75% cooked white rice, and 25% low fat protein. For the protein you could use extra lean ground beef, boiled with the fat scooped off, or chicken breast boiled with fat scooped off or even scrambled egg cooked without fat in the microwave. Feed small frequent meals. For a dog this size, I would suggest 1/2 cup every 3 to 4 hours.
4. After 1-2 days on the rice mix, you would gradually change your dog back to the normal diet and food. So, on day 3, give the rice mixture, but bigger meals, spaced further apart. On day 4, mix a little tiny bit of the normal food in there, and decrease the frequency so it is down to 3 meals or so. And so on.
5. Keep your dog as quiet as possible - just out to relieve herself and back in.
I'll give you links to further information:
In terms of preventing this problem, it is very helpful to have dogs prone to this on a bit of OAT bran (very important it is OAT bran and not wheat bran) in their food daily. For a dog this size, I would suggest 2-4 teaspoons daily, divided between her meals.
Alternatively, you may just wish to keep her on the Metamucil or canned pumpkin. Many people find that if they freeze a can of canned pumpkin in an ice cube tray, they can just add a cube to the dog's meals easily.
Also, you may wish to consider a DAP (dog appeasing pheromone) diffuser to decrease stress if this has been a factor in the last few weeks. It contains a smell that calms dogs, but is not a drug and is perfectly safe. It has no odour to humans.
Here is more about them:
Another option would be to give her a very safe anti-anxiety mixture called Composure Liquid from Vetri Science. It is composed of a protein extract from a milk product and a soy product plus a few other things. It seems to work great for dogs that are stressed.
Another thing that you could try would be Rescue Remedy.
More about it here:
It is pretty widely available at health food stores. If you don't have one near you, here is a link:
I have found the results variable with Rescue remedy. Some dogs do seem more relaxed with Rescue Remedy, some don't seem to have any change with its use. But it is safe!
The other thing that I wanted to mention is that if your girl were my patient, I would put her on a probiotic. They are very safe and help a lot of dogs! It just helps to promote the growth of "good" bacteria and reduce the "bad" bacteria in a natural and safe way. You can use FortiFlora products which are available from your veterinarian, or you can use Culturelle which is available at pharmacies in the USA. For the Culturelle, a 60lb dog would get 1-2 capsules daily sprinkled on her food.
Here are links:
If your girl continues to strain, or starts to pass blood or mucus, or begins vomiting, or loses her appetite, then a call to your vet would be in order. Your vet may want to start her on metronidazole which is very quickly effective at helping to make dogs with colitis feel better.
I hope that helps you. If this has been helpful, please hit the green "Accept" button and leave feedback.
If you need more information, just click on reply and I will still be here to provide it!
The above is given for information only. Although I am a licensed veterinarian, I cannot legally prescribe medicines or diagnose your pet's condition without performing a physical exam. If you have concerns about your pet I would strongly advise contacting your regular veterinarian.