Top 5 Causes Of Colitis In Dogs Prevention Tips for a Healthier Pup

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Colitis is one of those issues that can sometimes be a symptom of something more serious. Colitis is also very treatable and preventable. Find out more here about what causes colitis and how to make sure that your dog doesn't get it.

Colitis in dogs is an irritation of the colon and is a common malady. It isn’t actually a disease itself, but a symptom of several other diseases and problems. The big ones are stress, infection or parasites, allergies, or any of several bowel diseases.

Read more to find out what these conditions mean, how dogs get them, and what a vet can do to help your dog feel better.


  • Many small, loose or watery stools
  • Straining before or after defecation
  • Sometimes passing bright red blood or mucus with the stool
  • Your poor pooch may be vomiting, too

If your dog is suffering from these symptoms, chances of colitis are high. Any dog with these symptoms should go to the vet immediately. Colitis is not a condition you should diagnose on your own. However, knowing what causes colitis might help you keep your dog from getting it in the first place.


1. Stress

Canine stress is a major cause of colitis, especially in shelter dogs. Traveling, moving, and upheavals at home can all cause stress. Each dog has their own hang-up, and these could be causing problems as well. Obviously, if your dog is literally sick with worry, something is very wrong.

Depending on what the source of stress is, the solution may be to remove the problem, or to support the dog through the crisis with training. Sedatives may be called for in some cases, and in others a bit of TLC could solve the problem. Sometimes probiotic supplements are able to address symptoms as well.

2. Infection or Parasites

E. coli, Salmonella, Giardia, whipworms, and other infections and parasites of the gut can cause colitis. Dogs pick up these infestations from contaminated food or water, or from each other, so the simple solution is not to allow dogs to eat or lick anything off the ground--easier said than done, of course!

Remember to bring a water bottle and a collapsible bowl on longer walks so your dog won’t feel tempted to drink from puddles. Remember, also, that even water that looks clean might be contaminated.

Once a dog is infected, the vet may take a stool sample to find out what exactly your dog has, and prescribe the right medication to get rid of it.

3. Allergies

From food to the environment to items in the home, dogs can be allergic to all the same allergens as humans. And, as with human allergies, dog allergies can be tricky to diagnose. Through trial and error, and with some help from your vet, figure out what your dog is allergic to, and remove it from their life. A hypoallergenic food may be in order. Again, drugs can provide symptomatic relief, and treatment with probiotics might help.

4. Other Diseases

There are a number of different inflammatory bowel diseases, not all of which are well understood. Some conditions are diagnosed mainly by ruling everything else out.


Your vet may want to conduct tests such as blood tests, a colonoscopy, or an ultrasound evaluation. Not only does the vet have to know what to treat, but they also need to rule out worst case scenarios, such as tumors.

In addition to whatever specific treatment your dog may need, the vet may recommend a fast for a day or two, a shift to a low-residue or hypoallergenic diet, or increasing fiber content in the diet.


In all but a very few rare cases, colitis can be treated successfully, and your dog will soon feel well enough to try to get into the compost pile and get in trouble all over again!

More on Dog Stomach Health

6 Most Common Causes of Constipation in Dogs
Caring for a Sick Dog: The Dos (And the Dont's)
Why Chocolate is Bad for Dogs

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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