Canine colitis is an inflammation of a dog’s large intestine. Colitis, or inflammatory bowel disease, can be caused by parasites, stress, bacteria and cancer, with each requiring a different type of treatment. Signs of the disease include both diarrhea and constipation, blood in the stool, abdominal pain or painful defecation. Boxers are especially prone to colitis. Chronic colitis can lead to weight loss. While a deep ulceration of the colon is more serious, in many dogs colitis can be controlled with diet modification.
Since dogs with chronic colitis often require lifelong diet control, think in terms of substitutions. Veterinarians recommend dietary adjustments to help the colon rest so it can heal. You will need to feed your dog a diet that is easily digestible and low in fat. Because homemade diets don’t always provide the balance dogs need, commercially prepared dog food is often a more satisfactory solution over time.
Since fat is hard to digest, a bland diet is often recommended at least to start. Consider giving your dog boiled chicken with the fat removed, boiled white rice, egg and cottage cheese. These are some of the most helpful foods and should be plain without spices. Some vets suggest human baby food. Never give dogs onions or grapes.
Increased fiber has been effective in producing firmer stool in dogs. Since many owners report success with pumpkin, try adding small amounts of pumpkin to the diet. Amounts range from a teaspoon to a tablespoon depending on the dog’s weight. Use plain pureed canned pumpkin instead of pie filling which contains sugar. You can also substitute sweet potato to add fiber. Adding oat bran will also give dogs fiber.
Since probiotics have been shown to help, probiotic bacteria is sometimes used to help with digestion. Probiotics are bacteria in food that help keep a balance in the intestines. As a dietary supplement probiotics mimic valuable bacteria already present in the body. Foods containing probiotics are often dairy products such as yogurt and milk. Research is being done to determine how helpful Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil might also be for dogs. Check out the variety of supplements at your natural food store. Ask your vet which probiotics have had the greatest success in dogs.
Since pets can be allergic to various triggers, some vets recommend a hypoallergenic diet for dogs with colitis. Try your dog on a protein source that is unfamiliar to him. You might substitute duck, rabbit or venison in place of other meats. Offering your dog a protein he hasn’t had before might help his digestive system.
Patience and determination are needed to determine the cause of canine colitis. Often eliminating foods over time is the only way to tell which disagrees with the digestive system. In the meantime ask your veterinarian to recommend dietary solutions or tests that can promptly ease your dog’s discomfort.