What is Colonic or Rectal Inflammation?
Inflammation of the colon or rectum can occur in different degrees that range in determining how uncomfortable your pet will be. In any case, if your dog is having issues with inflammation, it is necessary to make an appointment with the veterinarian in order to pinpoint the cause. Some of the causes for colitis and proctitis (such as ingestion of contaminated food, invasion of parasites, or cancer) can lead to long-term damage if left untreated. Treatment can range from simple medication therapy to surgery. Depending on the cause for the inflammation, the prognosis can vary from excellent to poor. Because of the variation in severity, a complete physical check-up for your pet is highly recommended if the bowel movements are abnormal for longer than a day or two.
Colonic and rectal inflammation are medically defined as colitis and proctitis respectively. When a canine has inflammation in either area he may suffer acute or chronic episodes of diarrhea. In some instances, dogs will strain to defecate and pass only a small amount of stool with the bowel movement.
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Symptoms of Colonic or Rectal Inflammation in Dogs
The signs of inflammation apparent in one dog to the next can be different. No matter what the symptoms, as a pet owner you will know that your dog is having a problem as his behavior will very likely reflect his discomfort.
- There may be frequent attempts to defecate with prolonged straining (tenesmus)
- Your pet could appear to be in pain
- The stools may be small
- The stools may be semi-formed
- There may be diarrhea that could be bloody
- There may be mucus present in the bowel movement
Some dogs will have additional symptoms of vomiting, weight loss, lethargy, and dehydration, depending on the illness.
Inflammation of the colon (colitis) or rectum (proctitis) can be chronic, which means that it is a continual problem, or acute, whereby it comes on suddenly. In addition, there is the instance of chronic episodic colitis and proctitis, which is intermittent recurring events of inflammation.
Causes of Colonic or Rectal Inflammation in Dogs
When the colon or rectum are inflamed, there is an inadequate absorption of water and a thickening of the colon. The rectum can also have fistulas, which are openings and lesions that progressively worsen causing great pain, especially when a dog attempts to have a bowel movement.
- Parasites like whipworm and hookworm
- Infection (viral, fungal, bacterial)
- Dietary allergies
- Neoplasia (lymphoma, adenocarcinoma, sarcoma)
- Reaction to antibiotics and NSAIDs
- Irritable bowel disease
- Excess urea and other waste in the blood (uremia)
- Foreign body obstruction
- Ingestion of contaminated food
- Inflammatory/immune disorders like histiocytic ulcerative colitis (Boxers and French Bulldogs are prone)
- Colitis accompanied by perianal fistulas (German Shepherds are predisposed)
Diagnosis of Colonic or Rectal Inflammation in Dogs
The clinical signs seen by the physical examination will be a part of the diagnostic process, but information that you can provide first hand will prove to be invaluable. Your veterinarian may ask questions related to colonic and rectal inflammation.
- How long have the symptoms been apparent?
- Are they chronic or intermittent?
- Did your pet have access to toxic or harmful substances that you know of?
- What is his usual diet?
- What are his bowel and urinary habits of late?
If you can supply a fresh sample of fecal matter, be sure to do so as the veterinary team will want to check for possibilities like bacteria or parasites. Blood tests will be ordered and may reveal the presence of problems like neutrophilia, anemia, hyperglobulinemia, or neutrophilia, all of which have been documented in canines with this condition. In addition, your veterinarian may want to do an ultrasound. This can show tissues changes in the colon and abnormal lymph nodes, two typical findings with colitis and proctitis. Sometimes a rectal examination is done; this will depend on whether it causes pain for your pet, and depending on his cooperation as well. Your veterinarian might discuss the need for a colonoscopy or colon biopsy, both which will require preparation before the tests can be carried out.
Treatment of Colonic or Rectal Inflammation in Dogs
If the colitis or proctitis has been caused by parasites, a medicine (anthelmintic) to eliminate the pest will be administered. In infectious cases, antibiotics may be given. With a suspected food intolerance, your dog may be put on a hypoallergenic or bland diet for a few weeks to a few months. Strict compliance to the diet is essential in order to determine if this is the problem. Fiber supplementation may help with the formation of the feces which, in turn, can aid in the improvement of colonic muscle contraction.
If there is inflammation as a result of an inflammatory/immune issue, corticosteroids or motility modifiers could be prescribed, each with it’s own protocol and precautions. In the instance of severe damage to the colon due to chronic inflammation or severe infection, surgery to remove the damaged area and resection the colon could be suggested.
Recovery of Colonic or Rectal Inflammation in Dogs
Most dogs with colonic or rectal inflammation respond well to therapy. With the right treatment for the condition, results can be seen within 3 to 5 days. When a hypoallergenic diet is being investigated a diagnosis may take some time to define. Follow-up appointments will be needed so the veterinarian can determine if the therapy is the right choice. The need to monitor the health of your furry family member is necessary as well in case there are reactions to medications. Keep in close contact with the veterinary team and do not hesitate to contact them if you have any concerns.