Colitis in dogs is an irritation of the colon and is a common disease. In reality, it is not a disease in itself but a symptom of several other diseases and problems.
Colitis means ‘inflammation of the colon.’ The colon is the last functional segment of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and is responsible for the final stages of digestion.
How to understand colitis in dogs
When the lining of the colon is irritated and inflamed, the last part of the digestive process is interrupted. As a result, mediators are produced that promote the inflammatory state, whose progress affects the integrity of the intestinal wall.
In other words, the barrier that separates the intestinal contents from the bloodstream is eroded in colitis, resulting in ulcerations. At the same time, inflammation triggers secretions of mucus and other substances from the lining of the colon that interfere with normal intestinal motility.
At the cellular level, the ability of the colon to absorb water from dietary waste products and store and transport feces is reduced. This causes the stool to become loose, watery, fatty, and sometimes stained with mucus or fresh red blood.
Pets with colitis cannot tell us how they feel, but this disease is very similar to colitis in humans. In this way, we can assume that a dog with this condition is dealing with a lot of discomfort and pain.
Leading causes of colitis in dogs
1. Alteration of the microbiota or intestinal dysbiosis
The intestinal microbiota is the consortium of all living microorganisms – bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses – that inhabit the gastrointestinal tract. Bacteria are the most abundant microbes in the intestine.
While the term ‘microflora’ is often used in the previous literature, ‘microbiota’ – from the Greek, ‘bio’: ‘life’ – is the appropriate term. The diversity of bacterial species that inhabit the intestine is enormous. They inhabit the gut and establish their ecosystem; In a state of health, this ecosystem reaches a balance.
As for the number of bacteria in the colon, it is estimated in the order of billions (10 12 ) of cells. This is approximately ten times more than the cells of the whole body of the dog, hence its importance.
The alteration of the average balance of the microbiota is known as intestinal dysbiosis. Modification is understood as changes in composition or richness, that is, the diversity of unique bacterial species.
This alteration of the microbiota can be induced by a variety of factors, from antibiotic treatment to improper diet and stress.
Studies in humans and canines have associated intestinal dysbiosis with various gastrointestinal disorders. Among them are inflammatory bowel disease, granulomatous colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Although it is not always clear whether dysbiosis is a cause or effect of gastrointestinal disease, it is known that the restoration of the microbiota has a favorable impact on the treatment of the disease.
Canine stress is an essential cause of colitis, especially in shelter dogs. Events such as travel and moving can cause anxiety, but each dog has its problem, which could lead to colitis.
3. Infection or parasites
- coli, Salmonella, Giardia, worms, and other diseases by bacteria and parasites of the intestine can cause colitis. Dogs acquire these contaminated food or water infestations, or other dogs.
Remember to bring a bottle of water and a folding bowl on longer walks so that your dog does not feel tempted to drink from puddles. Get the idea, too, that even the water that looks clean can be contaminated.
The dogs can be allergic to the same allergen humans, from food to the environment and household items. As with human allergies, allergies in dogs can be challenging to diagnose.
The breed matters in the condition of colitis in dogs
It is known that genetic factors are an essential factor when suffering from inflammatory bowel diseases. Boxer dogs are predisposed to histiocytic ulcerative colitis, which is associated with canine inflammatory bowel disease, while German shepherds have a higher incidence of lymphocytic-plasmacytic enterocolitis.
Irritable bowel syndrome, a common cause of colitis in dogs, is frequently observed in nervous pets. Pets that eat indiscriminately, as well as animals that roam alone outdoors, also have an increased risk of colitis.
As you can see, it is possible to prevent or reduce factors that can trigger the condition of colitis in your dog. The key is to be adequately informed.