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Ask Dr.Fiona Your Own Question
Dr.Fiona, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 6273
Experience:  16 years experience as a companion animal veterinarian in British Columbia, California and Ontario
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Is Colitis deadly? What should I do?

Customer Question

If my dog has Colitis, what can I do? Is it deadly?

Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 7 years ago.

Hi again,
Welcome back to Just Answer! I would be happy to help you and your dog with this question, but I need a bit more information in order to better assist you.
When did this start?
Has your dog been diagnosed with this problem?
Is he having diarrhea with blood and mucus?

Customer: replied 7 years ago.

The blood happened only once and it was last night. I am not even sure if the blood was from his butt, because there was no blood on his hair. But I think I saw a little bit of poo.
He has not been diagnosed with this.
I only saw blood last night and no mucus.

Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 7 years ago.

And has he had diarrhea today?

Customer: replied 7 years ago.


Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 7 years ago.

Ok, so your dog had a bowel movement last night that might have had blood on it. Today, he has had a normal bowel movement?
Did someone tell you that this might be colitis?
Is he "scooting" his anal area across the carpet?
I don't know if your dog has colitis, but I can tell you more about it.
With colitis, dogs tend to have more frequent bowel movements. A sense of urgency, sometimes 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.
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.
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:
- faecal 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 faecal smear to look for Campylobacter
- a faecal 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 (

As a first line treatment, but there are a number other drugs that can be helpful too:

Panacur (fenbendazole, ,
Tylosin ( )
and even steroids (prednisone )
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 mucus on the stool, the owner should WITH-HOLD FOOD! Do not offer anything for 12- 24 hours. This gives the intestines a chance to rest and heal.
2. When he is fasting, the patient 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 chicken or beef broth diluted 50:50 with water. Give the fluids in small amounts frequently. For a dog this size that means about 1/2 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 cup every 3 to 4 hours.
4. After 1-2 days on the rice mix, the owner would gradually change the 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. I advise people to keep the dog as quiet as possible - just out to relieve himself and back in.
6. Start 2 tablespoons twice daily per 10lbs body weight of canned pumpkin. Be sure to use plain canned pumpkin and NOT pie filler!
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 his meals.
Alternatively, you may just wish to keep him on the Metamucil.
Also, I advise people that they 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:
If your boy begins to have straining and is passing mucus, or begins vomiting, or loses his appetite, then a trip to your vet would be in order. Your vet may want to start him on metronidazole which is very quickly effective at helping to make dogs with colitis feel better.
I hope that helps you.

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