Stress Colitis In Dogs

Colitis is an inflammation of your dog’s intestine of which there are two different versions, one being acute and the other chronic. Both are characterized primarily by diarrhea, but it’s important to understand whether colitis is acute or chronic, because the program of treatment may differ somewhat. >

Canine colitis may be caused by intestinal parasites, infections, eating contaminated food, inflammatory bowel disease and food allergies, but stress-induced colitis is one of the most commonly diagnosed forms of colitis in dogs. Colitis is the term used to describe inflammation of the colon. This inflammation diminishes water absorption and the colon’s ability to store fecal matter, resulting in the telltale sign of frequent diarrhea.

Stress Colitis In Dogs

Acute colitis is also known as stress-induced colitis, and generally develops suddenly as a result of things like moving, boarding, severe weather, lifestyle changes, or even an unfortunate foray into the garbage can. Chronic colitis is associated with symptoms which persist for a month or longer and may be caused by parasites, infections, or some other more persistent cause

How to Recognize Colitis In Dogs

If your dog is suffering from canine colitis, you will notice that your dog needs to defecate more frequently than usual, and he may exhibit an urgency to get outdoors to eliminate. These frequent trips result in small amounts of loose or watery stool that often contains mucous or blood. At the end of the bowel movement, your dog may appear to be straining because he does not have the sensation of having emptied his bowels. The onset of stress-induced colitis in dogs is usually abrupt, and it follows a stressful situation that the dog has endured.

Stress Colitis In Dogs

Dogs suffering from colitis often have blood or mucous in their stool, and appear to be straining while defecating, because they lack the sensation of fully evacuating their bowels. In addition, stools frequently start out normal and finish with a kind of gooey, slimy consistency. Veterinarians can diagnose colitis based on the appearance of these symptoms, as well as some other commonly occurring signals:

More frequent defecation than usual, and stool which is different from your dog’s usual stoolLack of appetite, or complete disinterest in eatingRecurring flatulenceWeight loss which is not explained by any other obvious causeExaggerated squatting and hunching when passing stoolApparent cramping in the lower body

Causes of Stress Colitis In Dogs

As the name implies, stress colitis is brought on by a stressful event. This could be time spent at a boarding facility, a family move, a new baby in the home, a new pet in the home or an abrupt change in his regular routine. The departure of a close family member, such as one who has left for college or military service, can also incite stress. Pets grieve for loved ones, and the death of a family member or other pet with whom the dog was closely bonded can pose stress during his mourning period. Positive events, such as a weekend trip to the campground or the shoreline cottage, can also cause stress diarrhea. As the dog is happily exploring new turf, flora and fauna, his body releases more cortisol and adrenaline, which are stress hormones that can bring on stress colitis.


Be sure to collect a sample of the fecal material so that your veterinarian can evaluate it. He will be making note of the color and texture of the feces to determine that these qualities are consistent with colonic diarrhea. He will also perform an analysis and culture to rule out intestinal parasites and infections as the culprit. The veterinarian will discuss your dog’s recent activities be prepared to have the following information:

SymptomsRecent ActivitiesChanges in foodEnvironmental changes?Stressful situationsUnsupervised routinesRecent food intakeExposure to other animalsWalk on or off leash

If there are no significant findings on the examination or the fecal tests, then the veterinarian will prescribe treatment that can be administered at home. If your dog does not respond within a few days, then further attempts at treatment and diagnostic testing may be necessary and might include taking a sample of your dog’s stool for analysis, and in some cases a colonoscopy might even be performed. These are some of the test your vet might run to know the exact condition of your dog:>

ChemistryBlood countAbdomen XraysUltrasoundEndoscopyViral infection’s testPancreatitis testFecal examination

Similar Symptoms

Chronic diarrhea can be a symptom of a number of gastrointestinal problems. As a dog with constipation strains to pass a bowel movement, watery stool from behind the formed stool can slip through and be passed instead.

Possible Conditions

Colitis in dogs is usually straightforward to assess, and they respond quickly to treatment. If the course of treatment only provides temporary relief, or if your dog’s stools do not improve at all, then some of these other conditions that present with diarrhea will have to be considered:

Treatment of stress or chronic Colitis In Dogs

Treatment for colitis in dogs can fall into two categories: traditional and natural. Natural treatment incorporates the use of herbal remedies and fibrous plants to help relax and heal the dog’s colon. Milfoil, thyme, and chamomile are herbs which promote healing of the colon, and restore your pet’s normal bowel movements. All three of these serve to reduce inflammation and improve digestion, but to be really effective, they must be administered three times daily in the form of a drink. Traditional treatments may involve hydration of your dog if it has become dehydrated, and surgery may be necessary if scars have formed on the colon itself. However, less severe cases may only call for medication tailored to treat the specific type of colitis your dog is suffering from. If parasites are determined to be the cause, then drugs will be used to eliminate them, and quite often some kind of anti-inflammatory drug will be needed to combat inflammation of the colon.

At home treatment

Depending on the severity of the condition and your vet’s advice there are some treatments and measures that you can do at home, these include the following:

High protein dietUnfermented fiberUnfermented fiberMilfoilChamomileThymeRiceSpecial food for colitisProbiotics

Always check with your vet before taking any action towards your dog’s health condition.

Preventing colitis in your dog

Two of the best things you can do to keep your dog free of colitis are to monitor its diet regularly, ensuring that it does not eat human food very often, and to keep your garbage cans tightly covered. Giving your dog regular preventives can avoid parasites, and keeping vaccines current can help to avoid diseases which may lead to colitis. Submitting regular stool samples to your veterinarian can keep you both aware of any sudden developments, and catch anything in the earliest stages, so action can be taken.