What you are describing in your dog sounds like he may have colitis. This is an inflammation of the colon.
With colitis, dogs tend to have some or all of these symptoms:
- more frequent bowel movements,
- a sense of urgency,
- sometimes straining and pain when defecating, and
- mucus and even blood on the stools.
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.
Colitis could be caused by a large number of different things.
Examples are stress, dietary indiscretion (eating something he shouldn't have), bacterial and viral infections, and parasites. In a sensitive dog, even a one-meal food change could trigger this.
We see this really often at holiday time as there are often changes in routine and lots of visitors, and decorations and all kinds of things that are different and are thus stressful to dogs.
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. I usually suggest 1 tsp per 10 lbs body weight given 2 or 3 times a day, 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. It works well, but if the dog relapses as your boy has, 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 he has an episode of blood and / or diarrhea, you should WITH-HOLD FOOD!
Do not offer his regular food for 12- 24 hours. This gives the intestines a chance to rest and heal.
*****While he is off his 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 he is fasting, he can have lots of clear fluids.
So, water is fine, but also he 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 1/4 to 1/2 cup an hour.
3. After 12-24 hours if the diarrhea 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 tablespoons 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 himself 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 1to 2 teaspoons daily, divided between his meals.
Alternatively, you may just wish to keep him 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 him 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.
You can also find it on Ebay.
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 boy were my patient, I would put him 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 10 to 25lb dog would get 1 capsule daily sprinkled on his food.
Here are links:
If your boy continues to have pain on defecating and is passing blood, or begins vomiting, or is lethargic, then a trip to your vet would be in order. Your vet may want to start him on metronidazole again, or one of the other drugs used to treat this condition. They are usually very quickly effective at helping to make dogs with colitis feel better.
I hope that helps you.
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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.