Chances are every dog owner has had to deal with some bouts of canine diarrhea. At times, though, the condition can seem to last longer than a day or two, which may be a sign of something more significant. Just like humans, dogs can develop an irritable bowel condition known as colitis.
In the simplest terms, colitis is an inflammation of the colon, which causes persistent (and sometimes painful) diarrhea. For some dogs, this may be an actual irritable bowel syndrome that may require medication. For other dogs, simple changes to the diet can relieve the symptoms.
There are many causes of colitis, both acute (which may resolve in 1-3 weeks) and chronic (which could be there for life). Whipworms, bacteria, fungi, and diet are all perpetrators. Allergies can also play a role, so it’s good to have your dog tested.
For most dogs, antibiotics and a change in diet can help. The most common diet remedy is to feed your dog a hamburger and rice diet – 2 parts rice to 1 part hamburger. Vets call this a “bland diet.” It soothes your dog’s stomach and keeps it away from some of the grains and fillers that are in store-bought dog food, which can sometimes cause digestive issues with your pooch.
It’s important to note, though, that the diet remedy will not help to prevent your dog from having continued trouble with colitis.
When my dog had her first problems with colitis, the vet had me put her on antibiotics for a week and a bland diet for two weeks. This did work, but within a month, she was having more diarrhea. If you find yourself in a similar position, consider putting your dog on probiotics.
One of the problems dogs face is that diarrhea from colitis will also flush the good bacteria from your dog’s digestive tract. Giving your dog probiotics will restore that good bacteria to your dog’s system, giving it the ability to fight off any future inflammations.
As always, you should consult with a vet before doing anything, but I have found that Purina’s Fortiflora works exceptionally well. It’s simply a packet of powder each morning. Since my dog has been on the probiotics, she has not had any trouble with colitis or diarrhea. In fact, she seems to enjoy the powder, as it’s not unusual for her to lick the food pieces with the powder first.
Anything you can do to help your dog’s digestive system is certainly much appreciated by your canine companion. My dog is healthier and happier now.
by Jon Vaitl