Intestinal Problems
in Dogs & Cats:

(Inflammation of the large bowel)


Colitis is inflammation of the colon or large intestine.

Enteritis is inflammation of the small intestines.

"Garbagitis" or "Garbage Gut" are non medical terms we vets use to indicate a patient with some combination of vomiting, feeling lousy, diarrhea, constipation, and a tight, gassy abdomen from eating something inappropriate.  Click here to go to our page about Garbagitis

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This page is about Colitis,which means inflammation of the colon.

This is probably the most common problem in veterinary medicine. Luckily it's usually not too serious and easily treated.  But note the word "usually".  For more information, please read to your right.

About Other GI Problems On Other Pages:

Intestinal Problems in Cats and Dogs; our introductory page

Garbagitis or Garbage Gut due to over eating, rich treats, rancid food, etc

Pancreatitis; associated with serious cases of over eating and high fat diets

Diarrhea  Maybe this is the most common problem in veterinary medicine
Constipation and Hairballs
Parvo and Other viral Dysentery diseases


Food Allergies

Intestinal Problems Associated with Parasites:



Round Worms

Hook Worms

Whip Worms

Tape Worms


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Liver Diseases     

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Neural Problems and Diseases: Epilepsy, Rabies, Distemper, FIP, Paralysis, Tetanus, Seizures, Disc Disease, Toxoplasmosis & others

Obesity; new information and about Pfizer's new FDA approved treatment


Parasite Problems Fleas, Ticks, Heartworms, Intestinal Worms, Mosquitos, Lice, Mites, and other welfare recipients

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Senior Pet Page: Geriatric Medicine

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The Human-Animal Bond

History of Veterinary Medicine; lots of interesting stuff    

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Our Dog Page:  a directory of problems of concern in dogs including parvovirus, distemper, canine herpes, and other diseases

Veterinary Pet Insurance

The picture to your left is an endoscopic view of a very inflamed colon
Appendicitis is inflammation of the appendix which is a pouch attached to the intestines at the site where the small and large intestines meet.  In some species, this pouch is huge (horses and rabbits) and called a cecum.  In humans, the appendix is about the size of your thumb and sometimes causes deadly serious disease needing immediate surgery.  In dogs and cats, this is a very rare occurence.

Pets with colitis often also have enteritis.  After all, the intestines are connected so the distinction between enteritis and colitis is often just academic.  I'm sure your dog doesn't care.  "Just get me better" !

Causes of lower bowel inflammation include:

Excessive hair in the bowel.  As you know, dogs and cats groom themselves with their tongue.  And if they ingest large quantities of hair because of compulsive grooming or because they're shedding excessively... often because of underlying skin disease, skin allergies, and fleas... then it's not surprising that all this hair in the bowel can cause irritation and inflammation.
Fremented wads of hair can make pets miserable. 

Intolerance to diets, snacks, table scraps, or vices such as eating excessive amounts of grass, sticks, bark, road kill, etc

Lack of fiber in the diet

Food allergies more common than you might think and to the foods you have been feeding for months.

Stress and anxiety

Lack of digestive enzymes or inflammation of the pancreas.  Click here to go to our page about pancreatic diseases      Click Here to go to our page about the therapeutic diets and supplements we recommend for intestinal problems

Hormonal or Metabolic problems such as Cushing's disease, Thyroid disease, or diabetes.

Inflammatory bowel disease or "irritable bowel syndrome"   Click Here to go to our page about the therapeutic diets and supplements we recommend for intestinal problems
Note: new evidence suggests that irritable bowel disease is mainly a matter of the immune system not keeping in check the numbers of bacteria in the bowel.  Yes, bacteria in the bowel is normal, but in a healthy bowel the numbers of bacteria are not overwhelming.  This is why so many cases of inflammatory bowel disease respond well to amoxicillin and other antibiotics.

Intestinal Parasites to include nematode worms, tapeworms, Giardia, and Coccidia

Bacterial and Fungal infections

Bowel cancer

As you can see, the causes range from minor irritants to cancer. 

This fact makes it tough on your veterinarians; do we treat gut cases casually and inexpensively on the assumption that this is probably yet another minor case .... or do we recommend blood work, radiographs, endoscopes, and ultra sound because of the possibility that this particular case is something serious.  Making this decision will depend on the history, the severity of the signs, your budget, and usually in the end, how your pet responds to initial treatment.

Symptoms include blood and mucus in the stool, gas, restless behavior, discomfort, straining to defecate, more frequent defecation and so forth.

Diagnostic workups typically include:

- Fecal exam for parasites, mucus, and blood
- Blood work to rule out metabolic diseases
- Radiographs

-Endoscopy and biopsy may be appropriate in severe or unresponsive cases

Treatment, of course, depends on the cause.  Sometimes it's necessary to treat seemingly unrelated  problems like excessive shedding due to fleas.  There are links to your left to pages where we discuss many of the diseases and parasites that result in diarrhea.

Most of the time, some combination of medications that control the diarrhea and fluid replacement are needed along with parasite medications, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory medications.

We often recommend special diets... especially in patients with frequent or chronic gi problems

Probiotics, pancreatic enzymes, and other digestive supplements are often helpful... sometimes very helpful. (beware of poor quality, near useless generics when buying probiotics)

Weight loss, dietary habit changes, and stress management may also be appropriate

Laser therapy, acupuncture, and holistic-herbal therapy... maybe?

And unfortunately, sometimes chemotherapy is needed.

Other Topics on this web site that you might find interesting:
There's a complete directory of links
at the bottom of the page


History of Veterinary Medicine; lots of interesting stuff    

A tribute to Dr Harvey Cushing

Where does your pet food come from?

History of the Discovery of Antibiotics

The Human-Animal Bond
Comments & Stories about this topic close to my heart

Cats: Fun or interesting stuff about cats and a discussion about the diseases common in our feline companions to include Leukemia, Feline AIDS, & Cat Scratch Fever.

Dogs:  a hodge podge page of stuff about dogs.

Pet Insurance:
Why I like and recommend Pet Insurance

Zoonotics: Diseases People get from Pets, Worms & other Parasites People get from Pets.


On Our Other Sites

About  Our No Kill Shelter   

About Our  Veterinary Clinic  

If probiotics are needed, it's important to get a trusted name brand.  The neutriceutical business is 80% flim flam.