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Health & Wellness

Colitis could be causing your dog to go to the bathroom more

Several things could be trigger your dog's condition.

You probably have a bathroom routine nailed down for your dog. For example, your day might begin with a morning walk, followed by another stroll around lunchtime and then time spent in the backyard before and after dinner. 

These routines give us quality bonding time with our pups while letting them relieve themselves. But regular bathroom breaks are also a good marker to compare to if your dog suddenly needs to go more often (or if they have diarrhea). Changes in their bathroom habits could mean they're struggling with colitis.  

What's colitis in dogs?

Colitis happens when a dog’s colon, or large intestine, is inflamed, Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch’s on-staff veterinarian, explains. If that sounds uncomfortable, it’s because it is. 

This condition causes discomfort and stomach upset and can lead to dehydration and other complications if left untreated. Colitis can be acute or chronic.

“Acute colitis strikes quickly and usually lasts for a few days, while chronic colitis tends to persist for weeks to months or recur frequently,” Dr. McCullough adds. 

Symptoms of colitis in dogs

Dogs with colitis usually need more frequent potty breaks and have diarrhea. Sometimes your dog may have blood in their poop from straining, or their poop may contain mucus.

What causes colitis in dogs? 

Colitis isn’t caused by just one trigger, so it’s helpful to contact your veterinarian if you notice that your dog’s bathroom breaks are becoming more frequent.

However, these are the most common causes of colitis, according to Dr. McCullough: 

  • Stress from travel, boarding, hospitalization or moving
  • Intestinal parasites like roundworms, hookworms, giardia or coccidia
  • Parvovirus, canine distemper virus, canine adenovirus or Salmonella, E. coli infections
  • Food allergies to beef, chicken, lamb or wheat
  • Foreign body ingestion after eating items like rocks, socks or toys
  • Dietary indiscretions like eating garbage, plants, table scraps or even a rapid diet change

RELATED: What can I give my dog for an upset stomach?

What's stress colitis in dogs?

Have you ever felt anxious before an important event and had to run to the restroom? Our dogs can feel the same way. If your dog is particularly stressed or anxious, they may have stress colitis. Triggers like moving, going on a trip or even separation anxiety can cause your pup to experience this condition.

It’s important to work with your veterinarian or behaviorist to determine the root cause of your dog’s stress. Unfortunately, if their stressor isn’t addressed, it can lead to chronic colitis. 

Treatment options for colitis in dogs

Thankfully, colitis is treatable. Your veterinarian will extensively review your pup to rule out any other causes of your dog’s symptoms, including a fecal exam, blood work or X-rays. 

Going to the bathroom more often can cause dehydration. If your veterinarian thinks their water levels are low, they’ll likely administer fluids (if it’s severe, your pup might need to be hospitalized).

Treatment recommendations depend on the cause and severity of your pup’s colitis. If your dog has a food intolerance, your veterinarian may recommend an elimination diet to determine the cause of the allergy. Or if an intestinal parasite is to blame, your veterinarian will probably prescribe a deworming medication.

“Your veterinarian may also prescribe antibiotics, probiotics, supplements, steroids or a special diet,” Dr. McCullough adds. “If your dog is severely ill, they’ll likely be hospitalized for more intensive therapy.”

The Dig, Fetch Pet Insurance's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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