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Blood in stools, weight loss and poor appetite in dogs could be due to inflammation of the colon or rectum. The large intestine is also known as the colon, while the rectum is the final section of the large bowel. When either the colon or the rectum is inflamed or irritated, it can cause a range of digestive symptoms.
Inflammation of rectum or colon can occur in varying degrees and how uncomfortable your pet is depending on the severity of inflammation and the extent of the bowel involved. When large intestine is inflamed, it results in a condition called colitis while rectal inflammation is called proctitis.
What are the symptoms of colon or rectal inflammation?
The symptoms and signs of colitis and proctitis vary depending on the severity of inflammation, the age of the dog and other health conditions. Some of the common symptoms include:
- Weight loss
- Blood or mucus in the stools
- Semi-formed or loose stools
- Prolonged straining during defecation
- Increased frequency of defecation
- Poor appetite
- Pain and discomfort while defecating
What causes colonic or rectal inflammation?
There are many factors that can cause rectal or colonic inflammation in dogs. These include;
- Fungal, bacterial or viral infection
- Parasites like hookworm or whipworm
- Dietary allergies including gluten or lactose intolerance
- Cancer of colon or rectum
- Reaction to strong painkillers, NSAIDS and antibiotics
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Excess toxins in the blood
- Foreign body obstruction
- Food poisoning
- Genetics or family history
- Immune, inflammatory disorders such as histiocytic ulcerative colitis
- Colitis with perianal fistulas
Because the large intestine's main role is in the absorption of water and stabilizing the consistency of stool, colitis can result in insufficient absorption of water and thickening of the walls of the intestine. Inflammation in the rectum can cause small tears or fistulas, which make bowel movement painful for the dog.
Recovering from inflammation
If you notice any of the above-listed colitis and proctitis symptoms, it is important to consult a vet immediately. When inflammation is left untreated, there can be more severe long-term damage and dehydration that can even be fatal. Most of the causes of inflammation are treatable with medication and changes in the diet if necessary. Infections, food poisoning and food allergies can be treated with simple medications and your dog can make a full recovery. Sometimes surgery may be needed depending on the extent and cause of inflammation. In infectious cases, antibiotics may be given. If food intolerance is suspected, your dog may be on a bland or hypoallergenic diet for a period of time. Strict compliance is crucial so that the vet can determine if food intolerance is the cause of inflammation.
Fiber supplementation can help with the consistency of the stools which, in turn, improves colonic muscle contraction. S