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Colitis is the term that we use to refer to an inflammation of the dog’s colon, and as such is a type of digestive problem that can arise due to a wide variety of different variables. Generally, colitis in the dog tends to be a short-term issue that may flare up for a couple of days but generally be self-limiting and not a huge problem, but colitis can also be acute and severe, or recurrent and chronic, which is more of a problem.
Once a dog has undergone one bout of colitis, they will tend to be more prone to suffering from the issue again in the future, and so understanding some of the various causes of colitis and the things that can trigger a flare-up is important. In this article, we will look at some of the common causes or triggers of colitis in dogs in more detail-including how to avoid them. Read on to learn more.
Colitis affects the colon (large intestine) and is a catch-all term used to refer to conditions that lead to an irritation and inflammation of the large intestine, which may or may not be accompanied by other problems too.
Generally, colitis bouts or flare-ups will lead to diarrhoea (usually reasonably mild) as well as a general discomfort in the stomach and bowels that may make your dog grumpy, fidgety and unable to settle down very well. In some cases (although more rarely) colitis will cause constipation rather than diarrhoea, and so if your dog does have a tendency to suffer from constipation, it is wise to consider colitis as a potential cause.
Regular flare-ups or chronic colitis can lead to a loss of condition and general wellness in your dog, as well as of course discomfort and potential pain due to the inflammation and struggle to pass faeces normally. Next, we will look at five of the main things that can cause or increase the chances of a bout of colitis in your dog.
The gut of the dog naturally contains a high bacterial load, and some of this bacteria is in fact essential to the healthy functioning of the gut and digestive system. Even some potentially harmful bacteria resides in the gut in low enough numbers as to not cause a problem, but if the level of potentially dangerous bacteria in your dog’s gut gets too high or they have a weak or compromised immune system, this can cause a bacterial infection of the colon itself.
This of course causes irritation and inflammation-colitis itself. If your dog has gone through more than one bout of colitis within a year, your vet may wish to look into this in more detail.
Grass-eating is something that most dogs do from time to time, and this can actually be beneficial to your dog, as a form of self-medication to help them to pass or throw up things vin their stomachs. However, if your dog eats too much grass, they will not be able to digest it properly-grass is of course rich in fibre, something that does only need a limited amount of in their diets.
Eating too much grass can therefore lead to colitis in the dog, and if this is the cause, your vet should work to find out why your dog might be eating so much grass to start with, and resolve that issue.
Dogs can and do pick up intestinal worms quite regularly, from contact with other dogs and even from the ground that they walk on. Regular treatment with the appropriate veterinary-recommended worming product can of course help to eradicate worm before they get established-but a more severe worm infestation may not be resolved with one treatment.
A heavy infection with parasitic worms can play havoc with your dog’s whole digestive system, and as worms often thrive within the colon itself, can easily lead to colitis.
If your dog has colitis, talk to your vet about your worming protocol and products, and see if they suggest any changes.
Certain medications that are commonly prescribed to dogs can come with side effects, which can be highly variable in their nature. One specific form of medication that can cause colitis is antibiotics, as these eradicate both good bacteria as well as bad, wiping out some of your dog’s natural gut flora and so, giving bad bacteria the chance to take a hold.
If your dog is on or has been on any medications within the last few months, make sure you ask them about the potential side effects.
Various chronic disorders of the bowels such as irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease can lead to a wide range of other secondary conditions, and colitis is just one of them. Colitis can of course also be easily confused with such conditions as well, and this is something that your vet should bear in mind.
Like many conditions, both colitis and chronic bowel disorders can be exacerbated by things like stress, so try to ensure that your dog has a regular routine and calm, secure lifestyle to reduce the frequency of flare-ups.
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