Colitis (inflammatory bowel disease) in cats and dogs
Colitis literally means inflammation of the colon. The symptoms of colitis in our pets include loose and bloody stool in dogs and cats, mucousy stool or feces, painful or straining at bowel movements, as well as increased stool accidents in the house or outside of the litter box. Colitis, also known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can have many possible causes from intestinal parasites like whipworms, hookworms and Giardia, foreign body ingestion or dietary indiscretion, dietary allergies or hypersensitivity, as well as metabolic problems like inflammation of the pancreas or liver.
On occasion, polyps and tumors of the colon can appear, particularly in older pets. Any pet with chronic signs of colitis should have a full medical workup, including stool samples for parasites, as well as a complete CBC/chemistry blood profile and urine analysis. Sometimes additional imaging of the colon is needed through ultrasound and the use of endoscopes as is done in human medicine. Many pets that don’t respond to symptomatic therapy and develop chronic signs of colitis, sometimes have a disease called inflammatory bowel disease of the colon. This condition needs a surgical or endoscopic biopsy for appropriate diagnosis and treatment if symptomatic and dietary therapy fail.
As veterinarians we often use prescription drugs and antibiotics like Metronidazole, Tylan Powder, or Sulfasalazine to try and control symptoms of colitis, in addition to dietary changes or adding fiber using such products as Vetasyl. Recently we have been having great success using probiotics and enzymes to help restore health and digestive tract function, especially when antibiotics are used. Fast Balance GI is a wonderful product that can often quickly control acute cases of colitis and diarrhea by giving our pets a quick and bio-available source of healthy bacteria to bring symptoms under control more quickly. Long term, excellent probiotics such as NaturVet Probiotics and Enzymes can often be added to meals, not only in treatment, but also in preventing future colitis flare-ups.