What are Proctitis?
Proctitis in dogs is a condition in which both the lining of the rectum and the anus become inflamed. In a canine, the rectum is the last part of the large intestine before the anus. Proctitis is similar to other digestive disorders, and is characterized by painful bowel movements, diarrhea, licking of the anus, increased scooting, and bloody stools. The main cause of proctitis is colitis, a term that translates into inflammation of the colon. This inflammatory condition of the large intestine often spreads to the rectum and the anus. Proctitis can also be caused by swallowing inedible objects, rectal trauma, food allergies, inflammatory conditions, and tumors or masses in the large intestine. Some dogs lose weight due to stomach pain, cramps and loss of appetite.
Proctitis is diagnosed primarily by digital rectal examination and laboratory testing. Fecal testing for parasites is also performed. X-rays, ultrasounds, and proctoscopy can aid in the diagnosis, but also serve to locate the cause. Surgery may be indicated for tumors or scar tissue in the large intestine, but in most cases, proctitis can be managed by eliminating the causative irritant. Treatment with antibiotics, worm medication, anti-inflammatory medications, and careful dietary management can decrease the incidence and recurrence of the condition. Although all breeds of dogs can experience proctitis, Boxers appear to be particularly affected by the condition. Dogs with proctitis typically show signs before the second year of life.
Proctitis in dogs is a condition in which the rectum and anus become inflamed, leading to painful bowel movements and bloody stools.
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Symptoms of Proctitis in Dogs
- Dog cries when defecating
- Frequent licking of the anus
- Bloody or mucoid stools
- Weight loss
Proctitis and colitis are often used interchangeably to describe bowel disease. Colitis is an inflammation of the large intestine, from the end of the small intestine to the rectum. Proctitis is the inflammation of the lining of the rectum and the anus. Colitis often leads to proctitis in dogs.
Causes of Proctitis in Dogs
- Excessive straining during defecating
- Fecal impaction
- Ingestion of mechanical irritants (coarse foods, needles, bones, foreign bodies)
- Ingestion of poisonous chemicals or plants
- Bacterial, fungal or parasitic infection
- Tumor or polyps
- Allergic disease
- Inflammatory disease
- Extension of colitis into rectum
- Immune disorder
- Chronic diarrhea with mucus and blood
- Food allergies
Diagnosis of Proctitis in Dogs
Dogs present at the veterinarian with symptoms of straining to move their bowels, crying during defecation, diarrhea, bloody stools, excessive licking of the anus, and frequent scooting due to rectal irritation. Blood work will include a CBC to determine possible anemia and signs of infection. A fecal flotation test will look for fungal or bacterial parasites, and a urinalysis will rule out urinary infection. Abdominal x-rays will look for intestinal blockages, masses, or anatomical abnormalities. Ultrasound can also provide detailed information about structural problems. Biochemical blood tests can evaluate for abnormal electrolytes. In some cases, proctoscopy with biopsy may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis. When masses are discovered, biopsies will be needed to rule out cancer.
Treatment of Proctitis in Dogs
In dogs that present with severe symptoms, inpatient care may be warranted to address critical issues such as dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Due to chronic diarrhea, some dogs may require intravenous fluids to compensate for fluid loss in the stools. The colon and rectum may require bowel rest, so feedings may need to be held until the lining of the bowels can recover.
Treatment for proctitis begins with confirming and eliminating the cause of the rectal inflammation. All dogs should be dewormed to remove any possible parasitic infection. In the case of fungal, protozoan, or bacterial illness, appropriate antibiotic treatment should be initiated. Anti-inflammatory medications can be used to decrease the irritation and inflammation in the intestines and provide pain relief. Routinely, prednisone is used to decrease inflammation and autoimmune disease, but hydrocortisone enemas can also be used.
If a food allergy is suspected, the veterinarian may begin an elimination diet to determine dietary allergies that may be contributing to proctitis. If chronic damage was done to the lining of the colon during progression of the condition, surgery may be necessary to remove scar tissue. If a mass is found in the colon or rectum, surgery may restore intestinal function. If the mass is found to be malignant, chemotherapy and radiation may be indicated to treat for cancer.
Recovery of Proctitis in Dogs
Home treatment begins with caring for the area with gentle soap and applying soothing ointments that may be prescribed by the veterinarian. The most important treatment at home is providing optimal nutrition and a diet that is well tolerated by the dog. In some cases, grain free diets may be required for food allergies. Some dogs may require additional fiber or low residue diets to make stool elimination less traumatic. Dietary management is key to preventing further flare ups of proctitis. Avoid dietary changes, monitor for contaminated food or water, and limit contact with other dogs that may have intestinal parasites.
Your dog will likely require regular veterinary visits to see if the inflammatory condition improves. If your dog develops diarrhea, painful defecation, or other signs of rectal discomfort, he or she should be examined promptly.