Stress Colitis In Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Stress Colitis In Dogs
Stress Colitis In Dogs

When your dog is stressed, it can hurt its health and well-being. Why? Stress, like in humans, has a significant impact on digestive function. Stress causes inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, lowering immunity and causing an imbalance in the gut biome in dogs with colitis. This is known as stress colitis, and it is not pleasant for either your dog or you. Understanding stress colitis in dogs, its symptoms, and how to treat it with home remedies will make your dog feel much better.

What Is Stress Colitis in Dogs?

Colitis is an inflammation of the colon, also known as the large intestine. Colitis can be either acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term). Stress colitis, which is another name for stress-induced colitis, is a common cause of acute colitis in dogs. Other common things that can cause acute colitis in dogs are sudden changes in their diet and parasitic infections.

What Causes Stress Colitis in Dogs? 

Stress colitis in dogs can be caused by any type of stress. We have learned about the negative impact of stress through research on the gut microbiome, which is a mixture of microorganisms including bacteria and other organisms that live inside the stomach and intestines. Stress causes an overgrowth of harmful gut bacteria and a decrease in beneficial bacteria, resulting in symptoms of intestinal upset such as diarrhea.

Anything that causes physical stress, such as surgery or strenuous exercise, as well as psychological stress, such as staying in a boarding facility, moving to a new home, or introducing a new baby or pet into the household, can be considered stressors that cause colitis.

Dogs who are generally more tense or anxious are more likely to develop stress colitis. This can happen to dogs of any age, but it is most common in dogs. There is no known breed of dog that is more prone to developing stress colitis.

Symptoms of Stress Colitis In Dogs

If your dog’s colon becomes inflamed as a result of stress, it will not absorb as much water as it once did. This can result in intestinal abnormalities and bowel movement changes. If you suspect your dog has stress colitis, keep an eye out for the following symptoms:

#1. Diarrhea

If your pet’s digestive tract is compromised, he may have irregular bowel movements. His stools, for example, could be soft, semi-formed, runny, and loose.

#2. Quick weight loss

Chronic diarrhea caused by colitis can cause your dog to lose weight and become dehydrated. If your pet has loose, watery stools all the time, it may lose its appetite because it is in pain in its stomach.

#3. Constant bowel movement

Another sign that he has colitis is when your dog defecates more frequently than usual. This could be due to the colitis or diarrhea that comes with it.

#4. Stool with blood and mucus

When your dog goes to the bathroom, you may notice bloodstains and mucous-like fluid in his stool.

#5. Difficulty releasing stool

A swollen colon can make bowel movements more difficult. When your dog is trying to defecate, it may strain and linger longer. This may result in painful sensations as your dog attempts to defecate.

How Do You Diagnose Stress Colitis in Dogs?

If you suspect your dog has stress colitis, taking them to the vet is the best option because early detection can help your pet recover more quickly and safely. It can also aid in the prevention of other internal ailments and digestive tract complications, such as constipation.

While there are no specific tests for canine stress colitis, your veterinarian can still perform several diagnostics to determine your dog’s condition. In addition to your dog’s full medical history, your vet can look at a sample of its poop and give your pet an x-ray to check its digestive system and figure out the best way to treat its condition.

How to Treat Stress Colitis in Dogs

The first step in treating stress colitis in dogs is to figure out what is causing it. Before giving your dog a physical exam, your vet will talk to you about its medical history. The vet will then perform fecal tests to look for parasites and infections in the stool. To look for GI foreign bodies and tumors, abdominal X-rays may be required. People may also be told to get blood tests to check the balance of electrolytes, the number of blood cells, and organ function.

#1. Stress reduction

If the colitis was caused by stress, you should do everything you can to reduce your dog’s stress and anxiety at home. This will not necessarily stop diarrhea but keep it from worsening or recurring. Your dog will be stressed out for a short time when you take him to the vet, but this is usually necessary to start treatment.

#2. Medication

Dewormers are used to treat parasitic infections in dogs that cause colitis. The specific type of dewormer will be determined by the parasite.
Metronidazole is a medication that is used to treat severe diarrhea. This antibiotic not only treats bacterial infections, but it also has anti-inflammatory properties that can treat diarrhea. Metronidazole can also be used in conjunction with dewormers to treat parasites such as Giardia.

#3. Dietary changes

Many cases of colitis can be controlled with dietary changes and medication. Veterinarians usually suggest that an animal fast for one to two days to give the GI tract a break. Following that, a special diet may be required. Your veterinarian will assist you in selecting the best diet for your dog.

#4. Natural remedies

Many dog owners may try feeding their dog pumpkin to help relieve colitis-related diarrhea, but this home remedy does not always work in all cases. In general, natural supplements or home remedies can be helpful, but they can also make diarrhea worse. Before beginning any supplement, herb, or other natural remedies for stress colitis in dogs, consult with your veterinarian.

#5. Medical attention

Dogs with severe colitis frequently require hospitalization for supportive care. To rehydrate and balance electrolytes, these puppies may require intravenous fluids. To provide relief, dogs are sometimes given anti-diarrhea medications in the hospital.

Home Remedies for Stress Colitis in Dogs

The good news about colon inflammation is that it usually resolves on its own. This means that medication may be unnecessary, and other treatments may be used to treat this condition. Here are some home remedies that you can use to treat stress colitis in dogs:

#1. Introduce fasting

Fasting allows the digestive system to rest. It can help your dog’s digestion and reduce inflammation. Your veterinarian may advise you to fast your dog for up to 48 hours. To maximize the effect, keep them from eating anything during this period. You can then gradually reintroduce other types of food into their diet so that they are not shocked.

#2. Increase their fiber consumption.

Colitis causes digestive tract water absorption problems in dogs. This causes your pet to become dehydrated, lose weight quickly, and have diarrhea. Increasing the fiber content in their diet can help them stay hydrated and prevent colitis symptoms. You can also give your dogs fiber supplements to supplement their fiber-rich diet.

#3. Provide them with a low-residue diet.

Giving your dog a low-residue diet is another healthy option for managing canine colitis. Foods with low residue are those that are easily digested and thus better absorbed by the body.

This reduces the amount of waste that must be passed, which benefits their digestive system. In other words, less residue means your dog’s stomach will have less digesting to do, making it easier for your dog to eat and move its bowels. The following foods are examples of low-residue foods:

  • Chicken 
  • Fish 
  • Eggs
  • Rice
  • Vegetables such as squash, carrots, and potatoes
  • Fruits like bananas and melons
  • Healthy oils such as omega-3 and 6 acids

The Average Cost To Treat Colitis In Dogs

The cost of treating a brief episode of stress colitis in dogs varies according to where you live, the size of your dog, and the type of veterinary clinic you visit. However, you should budget for the following costs:

  • Physical exam: $45-$80.
  • Fecal examination (float/smear): $45-$65
  • Giardia screening: $50-$60
  • Prescription diet (up to several weeks): $35-$85
  • Probiotics: $15-$30
  • Anti-diarrheal medication(s): $15-$25
  • Subcutaneous fluids: $45-$70

How to Prevent Stress Colitis in Dogs

If your dog has a history of getting colitis when it’s stressed, your vet may tell you to do the following to prevent stress colitis:

  • Administering a prescription diet.
  • Providing a probiotic daily.
  • Using a pheromone spray or diffuser to promote relaxation.
  • Administering a calming supplement.
  • Administering a prescription anti-anxiety medication.
  • Consultation with a veterinary behaviorist to alleviate anxiety.

Depending on how often and how bad your dog’s colitis and behavioral symptoms are, the above may be given for a short time, before and during times of stress, or as a regular part of your dog’s routine.

How Long Does dogs Colitis Last?

Whether a dog’s stress colitis is short-term or long-term affects how bad the symptoms are and how long they last.

  • Chronic colitis causes recurrent bouts of symptoms that last two to four weeks. The condition can be chronic (episodic), meaning that it comes and goes in waves, or chronic (constant) (constant). Either scenario can be extremely taxing on dogs and result in secondary health issues. This type of colitis is typically the result of an underlying disease that causes symptoms to appear.
  • Acute colitis (also known as “stress colitis”) is a one-time event that occurs abruptly and intensely. It usually lasts several days after a stressful event, such as overnight boarding or fireworks, before the symptoms subside and the dog returns to normal health. These are usually minor issues that can be resolved quickly with prescription medication from a veterinarian.

Prognosis and Recovery of Canine Colitis

The type of colitis your dog has will determine the prognosis. The short-term prognosis for dogs with chronic colitis is good, but relapses are very likely. Additional diagnostic tests will be required to identify the cause and provide appropriate treatment.

In the case of stress colitis, treatment with medication and a simple diet change should resolve the infection or inflammation, and the animal should be back to normal within three to five days.

But the outlook isn’t as good for dogs whose genes make them more likely to get the disease. Boxers with granulomatous colitis, for example, are unlikely to recover unless treatment is initiated as soon as possible.

How do I know if my dog has colitis stress?

Stress Colitis Symptoms in Dogs:

  • Stool that is soft and loose.
  • A change in the color of the stool
  • A stool with bright blood specks
  • Increased urination.
  • Struggling to poop
  • Excessive gas.
  • Discomfort when pooping
  • Alterations in eating habits

What kind of stress causes colitis in dogs?

Physical or mental stress and anxiety cause stress colitis in dogs. Diarrhea, straining to defecate, blood or mucous in the stool, and an increased need to defecate are all symptoms. A bland diet, fluids, probiotics, or medications may be used as treatments.

Can anxiety cause colitis in dogs?

Stress colitis is an inflammation of the colon or large intestine caused by physical or mental stress. Stress, as it does in humans, can hurt your dog’s health. This can weaken their immune system, making them more likely to get bacterial infections like colitis.

How can I help my dog with colitis stress?

Here is how to treat canine stress colitis:

  • Initiate fasting. Fasting allows the digestive system to rest.
  • Increase their fiber consumption. Colitis causes digestive tract water absorption problems in dogs.
  • Put them on a low-residue diet.

How long does stress colitis last in dogs?

Between three and five days

The majority of dogs suffering from stress colitis recover within three to five days. In chronic, severe, or recurring cases, more diagnostic tests should be done to find out the exact cause and the best way to treat it.

What does colitis poop look like in dogs?

The symptoms of stress colitis in dogs can vary, but the following are the most common: Defecating with soft, runny feces or feces with bright flecks of blood causes pain.


Stress colitis in dogs is a serious and potentially fatal condition, but it is treatable with the right treatment plan. If your dog has colitis, please make sure to carefully follow your veterinarian’s instructions. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us. We adore our canine companions and want them to live long and healthy lives!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can emotional stress cause colitis?

Our findings show that chronic stress disrupts gut microbiota, triggering immune system responses and facilitating DSS-induced colitis.

What triggers colitis attacks?

Greasy or fried foods, caffeine, alcohol, carbonation, spicy foods, raw vegetables, and some high-fiber foods such as nuts, seeds, corn, or popcorn are common culprits.

What does colitis poop look like?

When you have ulcerative colitis, you may notice blood and mucus in your poop during a flare-up. It is most commonly seen in very loose, watery stools. This bloody diarrhea is often accompanied by stomach cramps, a sudden urge to urinate, and, in some cases, a fever.

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