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Dr.Fiona, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
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Experience:  Small animal medicine and surgery - 16 years experience in BC, California and Ontario
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My 10 year old shih tzu has loose bloody stool. It started

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My 10 year old shih tzu has loose bloody stool. It started a week ago, got better but now is back. He eats Natural Choice for less active dogs with a spoon of brown rice and a teaspoon of watered down broth. He also get a NuVet Plus tablet once a day. What should I do? I've not taken him off food and haven't tried bland (yogurt, mashed potato etc.) I'm over two hours from my vet's emergency clinic.
Hi there,

Welcome to Just Answer! I would like to try to help you but need a bit more information in order to better assist you.

Is the stool jelly like or is it more like a puddle of blood?

Is he active and alert?

Any vomiting?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Stool is like jelly, not puddle of blood. Runny but sometimes like soft toothpaste. He's very active and alert, playful and full of energy. No vomiting at all. Healthy appetite. (very healthy appitite...but this has been the case for 10 years)
Ok, these are all good things!

And do you have any thoughts on what might have triggered the diarrhea - eating something different from his normal food, or any stress (such as visitors, changes in routine, or even YOU being stressed which he would pick up on)?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Well, I'm not well...I have liver disease so my habits have been different (less active, etc.) but he should be used to this. I recently bought a house, but we moved in a month ago and as I mentioned, he was fine until around last Friday. He recently went on the NuVet Plus (May 1). I have new 7 month old shih tzu that I rescued from a welfare society but he's been with us for about six weeks now. The puppy bothers Jerry (the ten year old) with all his attention and playfulness, but has since I got him. So, we've had some significant changes but nothing to coinside with this latest issue. Jerry has been very healthy his whole life except for being overweight and rarely ever has loose stool except when given red meat (which I don't give anymore ). Also in the past month, I've reduced his food and added the bit of brown rice where I used to give chicken or deli meat. I'm just trying to get some weight off him and also found that deli meat is not good for any of us.

Hi again,

I'm sorry to hear of your health concerns. The last thing you need to be dealing with is a sick dog! I do hope that I can help you to get Jerry feeling better!

What you are describing in your dog sounds like he may have colitis.

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. With Jerry, it could just be a culmination of things, or maybe he ate something that was thrown over the fence? It's hard to say....

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 ( ) 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, 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 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 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 skinless 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 2-3 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 about colitis:

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 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 thing which I should mention is that in patients that I see, I quite often prescribe Imodium (loperamide) to help resolve diarrhea. It is quickly effective, and I have people use it for 2 or 3 days.

More here about it, including dose:

If your boy continues 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.

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.


Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Thanks for all the info. Two last questions: Can I keep him on the NuVet Plus supplement each day? and...he is overweight and also stocky, so for a shih tzu, he's large. He's around 27 pounds and docs have said he'd be good at 18-20 lbs. I thank you for your time and help. (Pumpkin!! who'd of thought?)




LOL about the pumpkin! ;-) It really works well in most dogs!

The NuVet Plus supplement should be fine - I don't see that as being a problem in any way.

It sounds like he has a ways to go on the weight. It would be great if he could lose 1 lb a month - which is a LOT of weight for a little dog. It is hard work, but it sounds like you are committed to improving his health!

I hope he feels 100% soon!

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
so second question was are the measurements you advised right for my 'big boy"?
Oh, now I understand! :-)

Yes, those would be right for your big boy. I was guessing him at 20lbs!

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