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Colitis in Dogs

By: Dr. Bari Spielman

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Veterinary Care

Veterinary care should include diagnostic tests and subsequent treatment recommendations.


Your veterinarian will recommend diagnostic tests in order to recognize colitis and confirm the diagnosis. Tests may include:

  • A complete medical history and thorough physical examination

  • Fecal examination to evaluate for the presence of disease-causing bacteria or parasites

  • A complete blood count (CBC or hemogram) to evaluate for anemia, systemic inflammation, and presence of inflammatory cells (i.e., eosinophils) that may indicate an underlying allergic cause

  • Serum biochemistry tests to evaluate the general health of your dog and to identify problems in other organ systems

  • Urinalysis to evaluate kidney function

  • Abdominal X-rays to look for tumors or enlargement of abdominal organs

  • Serum trypsin-like immunoreactivity (TLI) in dogs to evaluate for pancreatic disorders

  • Colonoscopic examination to identify the presence of colitis or colon cancer and biopsy to determine the type of inflammation (eosinophilic, granulomatous, lymphoplasmacytic) or neoplasia (adenocarcinoma, lymphosarcoma). This procedure requires anesthesia, adequate cleansing of the bowel by enemas, and special equipment (a flexible fiberoptic endoscope) that may only be available at veterinary specialty referral centers.


    Treatment for colitis is most effective when directed at the underlying cause. Your veterinarian may recommend several symptomatic treatments for an animal with signs of colitis before recommending an extensive diagnostic evaluation.

    These treatments include:

  • Dietary modification

  • Empirical de-worming medication (because whipworms are a common parasitic cause of colitis and they only intermittently shed their eggs in the feces)

  • Antibiotics

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs

  • Motility-modifying drugs

    Home Care

    Administer as directed any medications prescribed by your veterinarian and follow recommendations for dietary modification. Also, observe your dog's general condition, watching for worsening of symptoms and bringing any changes to the attention of your veterinarian.

    Preventive Care

    Although some causes of colitis cannot be prevented, try to avoid exposure of your dog to infectious agents or abrupt dietary changes.

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