Colitis

Inflammation of the colon (large intestine)

Colitis, characterized by inflammation of the colon, can cause a variety of symptoms in pets. Signs may include:

  • Diarrhea or loose, watery stools
  • Increased frequency or urgency of bowel movements
  • Blood in stool: Colitis can cause bleeding in the colon, leading to the presence of blood in the stool
  • Straining during defecation: Discomfort during bowel movements may result in straining
  • Lethargy or decreased activity level
  • Loss of appetite or decreased food intake
  • Dehydration: If your pet is vomiting or having diarrhea, they may become dehydrated. Look for signs such as increased thirst or dry gums.
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort: Signs include restlessness, pacing, or a hunched posture

Cats often show more subtle signs of pain or discomfort, such as:

  • Increased hiding
  • Reduced grooming
  • Changes in vocalization
  • Changes in litter box habits, including urinating or defecating outside the box

Colitis can be caused by various factors, including dietary indiscretion, infections, parasites, or inflammatory conditions. Other health conditions may share similar symptoms with Colitis, including Pancreatitis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or Gastroenteritis.

When you visit your veterinarian for concerns related to colitis, the following may occur:

  • Medical history: They will review your pet's medical history and discuss details about your pet's symptoms, duration and pattern of occurrence, and any potential triggers or dietary changes.
  • Physical examination: The veterinarian will perform a thorough exam, checking for any abnormalities, particularly in the abdomen.
  • Diagnostic testing: Diagnostic testing such as blood tests, fecal examination, and imaging (such as x-rays or ultrasound) may be recommended to evaluate the gastrointestinal tract and to rule out other underlying conditions such as foreign body ingestion. Advanced diagnostics may be discussed in cases of chronic or severe colitis.
  • Treatment options: These can vary depending on the severity and underlying cause. It may involve fluid therapy to address dehydration, medications to control diarrhea, supportive care to alleviate symptoms, and in severe cases, hospitalization with intravenous fluids and medications.
  • Follow-up care: Your veterinarian will discuss a follow-up plan, which may involve diet change, additional tests, or adjustments to your pet’s daily routine.

Your veterinary healthcare team will partner with you to decide which treatment option is best for your pet's and your family’s specific condition and situation. 

While it may not be possible to prevent all instances of colitis, there are proactive measures you can take to reduce the risk and protect your pet's digestive health. Here are some preventative measures you can implement at home:

  • Provide a balanced and appropriate diet: Feed your pet a high-quality, balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the best diet for your pet's specific requirements.
  • Avoid sudden dietary changes: Gradually introduce any new type of food to minimize the risk of stomach upset.
  • Avoid giving table scraps or inappropriate foods: Human food, especially spicy, fatty, or toxic foods, can contribute to colitis in pets. Stick to a diet suitable for pets and avoid sharing table scraps.
  • Prevent access to harmful substances: Keep household chemicals, toxic foods and plants, and human medications out of your pet's reach to prevent accidental ingestion.
  • Practice good hygiene: Regularly clean your pet's food and water bowls, provide fresh water, and practice proper waste disposal to minimize the risk of bacterial contamination.
  • Prevent parasites: Ensure your pet is on a regular parasite prevention program. Many monthly heartworm preventions are also dewormers for common intestinal parasites (worms).
  • Vaccinations: Keep your pet up to date on vaccinations. Certain viral infections, such as parvovirus in dogs or feline panleukopenia in cats, can cause severe colitis.

Consult with your veterinarian for personalized advice and guidance on preventing colitis in your pet. They can provide tailored recommendations based on your pet's specific needs and medical history. 

Please note the information provided here is not a substitute for professional veterinary advice. If you suspect your pet has gastroenteritis or any other health concerns, consult your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment. 

Nationwide® pet insurance claim example

Veterinary bill

$405

You pay only

$41

Colitis

You save

$365

Example reflects Accident & Illness plan with optional Congenital & Hereditary rider as well as the optional Cruciate rider added after the first year of coverage, with unlimited annual limit for each category with 90% reimbursement after the $250 annual deductible has been met. This plan may not be available in all areas. Pre-existing conditions are not covered. Veterinary bill amount is based on expenses incurred in the first 30 days after initial diagnosis.

Nationwide® pet insurance claim example

Veterinary bill

$405

You pay only

$41

Colitis

You save

$365

Example reflects Accident & Illness plan with optional Congenital & Hereditary rider as well as the optional Cruciate rider added after the first year of coverage, with unlimited annual limit for each category with 90% reimbursement after the $250 annual deductible has been met. This plan may not be available in all areas. Pre-existing conditions are not covered. Veterinary bill amount is based on expenses incurred in the first 30 days after initial diagnosis.

Nationwide® pet insurance claim example

Veterinary bill

$405

You pay only

$41

Colitis

You save

$365

Example reflects Accident & Illness plan with optional Congenital & Hereditary rider as well as the optional Cruciate rider added after the first year of coverage, with unlimited annual limit for each category with 90% reimbursement after the $250 annual deductible has been met. This plan may not be available in all areas. Pre-existing conditions are not covered. Veterinary bill amount is based on expenses incurred in the first 30 days after initial diagnosis.