Histiocytic Ulcerative Colitis in Dogs

Histiocytic Ulcerative Colitis in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What are Histiocytic Ulcerative Colitis?

The cause of HUC is unknown but researchers suspect that infections are a cause. Often known as Boxer colitis because this breed is well known to suffer this condition, it depends on the severity of the condition as to the extent of the treatment. If the condition is caused by acute stress then overcoming this with appropriate environmental changes and diet will help, otherwise more intense treatment will be required. Once treatment begins, changes in your dogā€™s condition will improve within days, although some may need an adjusted diet for life.

Histiocytic ulcerative colitis is a disease of the bowel that causes inflammation and ulcers to the lining of the large intestine that produces bleeding and pus formation.

Symptoms of Histiocytic Ulcerative Colitis in Dogs

  • Frequent straining and prolonged motions to pass feces Ā but with limited results
  • Diarrhea that is bloody and contains mucous throughout the sample
  • Increasing need to defecateĀ 
  • Soft unformed feces that are not normal
  • Pain when passing stoolĀ 
  • Weight loss in later stages of the diseaseĀ 
  • Lack of appetite
  • Passing of gas (flatulence)


  • Although it primarily affects young Boxers it has also been reported in French Bulldogs, Alaskan Malamutes, English Bulldogs and Doberman Pinschers
  • Colitis is a related disease and has similar symptoms but is a lot milder and easier to treat with dietĀ 
  • The resultant diarrhea causes other problems such as redness and irritation around the anus
  • The cause is unknown but a possible cause could be from a genetic basis
  • Inflammation causing ulceration in the intestines is the result of the diseaseĀ 
  • Intestinal cramping of the lower intestine causes discomfort for your dog

Causes of Histiocytic Ulcerative Colitis in Dogs

  • The true cause seems to be a debatable issue among veterinarian and researchers
  • Histiocytic ulcerative colitis seems to be a breed-related disease affecting usually the Boxer types although it can affect other breedsĀ 
  • Acute stress seems to be an acknowledged cause of this diseaseĀ 
  • Other causes include internal infections (E-coli or Salmonella for example)Ā 
  • Parasites such as whipworms or GiardiaĀ 
  • Allergic reaction to a particular food
  • Contact with other infected dogsĀ 
  • Eating contaminated food

Diagnosis of Histiocytic Ulcerative Colitis in Dogs

This disease becomes apparent as your dogā€™s symptoms become clear. Your dog seems to be having trouble defecating, or having control of his bowel movements. This means there may be accidents in the home as your dog cannot control sudden attacks of diarrhea. The feces will be soft and contain pus and/or blood, indicating that something is not right. If the bowel movement is fresh the blood will be red, whereas if it has had a chance to dry, it will appear black. Once the symptoms of continual painful passing of loose stools becomes apparent, then a trip to your veterinarian is the most important thing to do.Ā 

The veterinarian will check out the clinical signs by asking you about your dogs behavior, and then may do an ultrasonography test and perform a large bowel biopsy. Another diagnostic tool is to do a colonoscopy of the intestines . The stress your dog is under will be obvious so prompt treatment is required. The pain of the muscle cramps will affect your dogā€™s normally happy nature, and as your dog is usually not one to complain, to see him in pain or depressed can be upsetting.

Treatment of Histiocytic Ulcerative Colitis in Dogs

It depends on the severity of the disease as to the appropriate treatment. Young dogs who are only mildly affected usually only need dietary changes and a course of medication to overcome the condition. Medication in the form of sulfasalazine and corticosteroid therapy is the chosen way to treat HUC. Diets that include high fibre should be avoided as it will aggravate the condition. Your veterinarian can advise about dietary changes and how to include just moderately fermentable fibre supplements to maintain your dogā€™s health. He will also discuss with you the possibility of the progressive nature of the disease and even if your dog responds well to treatment, that there may be reoccurrences later on in life.Ā 

Other medications may include the use of antimicrobials and anti-inflammatory drugs. Diet plays a major role in the health of your dog and even once he is healthy, maintaining a varied nourishing diet is important. Your dog is genetically geared to try to eat many things that may not be good for them, essentially they will scavenge if they can. In a country setting, this includes eating anything they find such as half rotten carcasses of birds or small animals, so an awareness of this habit is advisable.

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Recovery of Histiocytic Ulcerative Colitis in Dogs

Supportive care is required to assist your pet back to good health. If your dog is on a course of medication, ensure that the medication is given as advised. Missing one dose may upset the whole recovery process and it may take longer to effect a positive result. Creating a calm quiet place for your dog to rest and gain his strength as well as providing nourishing but easily assimilated meals will enable the internal organs to recover and fight back against the disease. Often once a positive result has been seen, and your dog is bouncing around full of life again, it is easy to relax with the medications provided, but keep in mind this condition can reoccur with a vengeance so prevention is vital.

Histiocytic Ulcerative Colitis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals


Mix terrier



Three Years


2 found this helpful


2 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
Diarrhea With Mucus. Picky Eater
Would this be what stool would look like with colitis

July 18, 2020

Answered by Dr. Michele K. DVM

2 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Colitis can make stool look strange, and can have mucus, or change colors. I hope that everything is back to normal soon.

July 18, 2020

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8 Years


0 found this helpful


0 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
For 5 months the dog has diarrhoea, sometimes bloody. Faeces 5-6 times per day. There were colonoscopy and gastroscopy, histology: histiocytic enteritis. Diet and prednisolon no help. Weight loss.

Feb. 25, 2018

0 Recommendations

In most cases dietary modification is sufficient with corticosteroids (prednisone, prednisolone or others) being used in some cases; other medications like antibiotics (metronidazole) may be used if an underlying infection is suspected, remember that diarrhoea may also be a side effect of treatment. I cannot really recommend any other course of action. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Feb. 25, 2018

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