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, the 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 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!

Frequently Asked Questions

What should dogs with colitis not eat?

Dogs with colitis should avoid certain foods that can exacerbate their condition. While fiber can be beneficial for managing colitis, it's important to introduce it gradually and in moderation, as excessive amounts of fiber can cause digestive upset and worsen symptoms in some dogs with colitis. High-fiber foods, such as beans, legumes, and bran, can be difficult for dogs to digest and may lead to flatulence, bloating, and diarrhea. Many dogs are lactose intolerant, and dairy products can cause gastrointestinal upset, including diarrhea. Foods that are high in fat can be difficult for dogs with colitis to digest, leading to inflammation of the digestive tract and diarrhea. Spices and seasonings, such as chili powder, garlic, and onion, can irritate the digestive tract and worsen colitis symptoms. Raw fruits and vegetables can be difficult for dogs to digest and may cause diarrhea. Cooked fruits and vegetables are generally easier to digest. Some dogs with colitis may have an intolerance to grains, such as wheat, corn, and soy, which can trigger inflammation of the digestive tract. Highly processed foods, such as canned or packaged foods, may contain additives and preservatives that can be hard on the digestive system.

What does colitis poop look like?

In general, dogs with colitis may have loose or watery stools, and they may produce more frequent bowel movements than normal. The stool may be streaked with mucus or blood and may have a foul odor. Some dogs with colitis may also strain to defecate, indicating that their bowel movements are painful or uncomfortable.

Is pumpkin good for dogs with colitis?

Yes, pumpkins can be a beneficial food for dogs with colitis. Pumpkin is a good source of soluble fiber, which can help to regulate bowel movements and reduce inflammation in the digestive tract. Additionally, pumpkin contains antioxidants and other nutrients that can support overall digestive health. When feeding pumpkin to a dog with colitis, use plain, canned pumpkin that does not contain any added sugars, spices, or other ingredients. You can add a tablespoon or two of pumpkin to your dog's meals or offer it as a treat or snack. However, introduce pumpkin gradually, starting with a small amount and increasing slowly over time, to avoid causing any digestive upset.

How can I treat my dog's colitis naturally?

While there is no one-size-fits-all natural treatment for colitis in dogs, there are some steps you can take to help manage your dog's symptoms and promote its overall digestive health. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help to support a healthy balance of gut flora and improve digestive function. You can give your dog a probiotic supplement or offer them foods that are naturally high in probiotics, such as kefir, yogurt, and fermented vegetables. Slippery elm is an herb that has a soothing effect on the digestive tract and can help to reduce inflammation and irritation. You can add powdered slippery elm to your dog's food or give them a slippery elm supplement. Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory and healing properties that can be beneficial for dogs with colitis. You can give your dog a small amount of aloe vera juice or gel or use it topically to soothe irritated skin around the anus. Homemade bone broth is a nutrient-rich food that can help to improve digestive function and reduce inflammation. You can make bone broth by simmering bones, vegetables, and other ingredients for several hours, then straining the liquid and offering it to your dog as a supplement or as a base for homemade dog food. Licorice root contains compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties and can help to soothe the digestive tract. However, licorice should be used with caution, as it can have negative effects on blood pressure and potassium levels in some dogs. Consult with a veterinarian before using licorice as a treatment for colitis in dogs. Curcumin is a compound found in turmeric that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Curcumin supplements can be given to dogs with colitis to help reduce inflammation in the digestive tract. Cinnamon oil has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce inflammation and promote digestive health. Cinnamon oil can be added to a dog's food or applied topically to the skin around the anus. Glutamine is an amino acid that can help to support gut health and repair the digestive tract. Glutamine supplements can be given to dogs with colitis to help promote healing and reduce inflammation. Boswellia serrata is an herb that has anti-inflammatory properties and can help to reduce inflammation in the digestive tract. Boswellia serrata supplements can be given to dogs with colitis to help manage their symptoms.

Is wet food better for dogs with colitis?

Wet food may be better for dogs with colitis because it typically contains more moisture and can be easier to digest than dry food. Many wet foods also have a higher protein and fat content than dry foods, which can help to support a dog's digestive health and reduce inflammation in the gut. Additionally, wet food may be easier to flavor with natural ingredients that can be beneficial for dogs with colitis, such as pumpkin, bone broth, or probiotics. These ingredients can help to soothe the digestive tract, promote healthy gut bacteria, and improve nutrient absorption. However, not all wet foods are created equal, and some may contain ingredients that can worsen colitis symptoms in some dogs. It's important to read labels carefully and choose high-quality wet food that is appropriate for your dog's specific health needs.

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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