Pancreatitis and colitis in dogs are common health conditions that can prevent your pet from living the best life. The symptoms of colitis can differ from pet to pet, typically ranging from painful defecation, to vomiting and constipation, from frequent bowel movements to chronic diarrhea, bloody stools, abdominal pain and weight loss. There are a wide range of causes of colitis and primary ones are stress, parasites, unhealthy or inadequate diet and genetics. Some dog breeds are prone to colitis especially sled dogs. Let us study what canine colitis is and the best foods to feed a dog with recurrent bouts of colitis.
Dog breeds genetically prone to colitis
Before we discuss best commercial and home cooked food for canine colitis, here are some dog breeds that are prone to colitis:
- Boxers – Boxers are especially prone to developing ulcerative colitis.
- French Bulldogs
- Shih Tzu
- Race dogs/sled dogs – These dogs need to race a lot and they could develop hemorrhagic colitis. Zoonotic bacterium like Salmonella and campylobacter are known to cause bacterial colitis in many racing dog breeds. This is exacerbated by the extreme physiological demands of racing in these breeds.
Diet therapy for dogs with colitis
The best way to manage colitis in dogs is through diet. Dog breeds prone to colitis need a hypoallergenic protein along with high fiber dog food. In most cases, vets recommend feeding a hypoallergenic diet for 3-4 weeks and then discontinuing and changing it if no visible improvement is seen.
High fiber diets work best for dogs with canine colitis. Many vets also recommend a homemade diet or diet supplemented with fiber for managing colitis.
- Yogurt (with live cultures) is very good for dogs with colitis. It contains gut friendly bacteria that eliminates harmful bacteria. It also provides calcium that growing pups need.
- Oats – Some dogs could be allergic to oats too. Always feed small quantities of food to your pet. Observe the pet to ensure he does not develop hot spots or dry, flaky skin. Also monitor his stools.
A diet based on lamb, chicken or turkey is generally well accepted by dogs with canine colitis. Make a stew of these and serve over rice or over one of the kibble (dry dog food for dogs with chronic colitis) mentioned below. Your vet can also recommend supplements since many dogs with chronic or acute colitis are unable to absorb adequate nutrition from food. Therefore, supplements with omega 3 essential oils, plant oils and probiotic supplements become necessary for dogs.
Best dry dog food for dogs with chronic colitis
Ideally, the kibble or dry dog food for a dog with chronic colitis should contain limited number of ingredients. This food should ideally be low in fats and high in fiber. Limited ingredient diets are simplified foods recommended by vets and tested on animals with food sensitivities.
If continuous itching, loose watery stools, mucus or blood in stools, diarrhea, poor coat health etc are some of the issues your dog is constantly suffering from, then Forza 10 can come to your rescue. Most dogs love the taste of Forza and you will see the difference almost immediately after switching to this brand. Within 2 to 3 weeks, your dog will not have any itching, dandruff or diarrhea. No more bloating, gas, flatulence or house accidents, when you switch to Forza 10.
Natural Balance dog food contains single protein source like bison, duck or salmon. It supports shiny, healthy skin and coat and is great for dogs with food sensitivity. This food promotes healthy digestion. Even pet parents having dogs that are allergic to pork, venison, corn, eggs, fish, oats, duck and honey can find something in this range of dog foods for dogs with colitis.
This dog food is suitable for dogs having allergies to all kinds of proteins. Even so called hypoallergenic foods contain corn and soy in hydrolyzed forms. Not Hill’s. Please talk to your vet before using this food since it contains fish oil which some dogs may be allergic to. You can get this food directly on top retailer sites or even as prescription from a vet.
The problem with many grain free dog foods is that they could still contain lentils, peas or chickpeas which dogs with food sensitivity and colitis may be still allergic to. Wellness Core is simple dog food with lamb/chicken/turkey or duck. There are no potatoes or other ingredients that some dogs may be allergic to. Wellness Core is free from wheat, corn and soy. It contains nutritious and healthy ingredients like broccoli, kale and spinach.
Eukanuba does not contain any wheat, rye or soy. However, it may be a bit difficult finding this food in the USA. Most retailers carry many adult dog food Eukanuba brand varieties but the Intestinal, which is specifically made for sensitive tummies, could be a bit hard to find. You could try contacting Eukanuba.
Home cooked food
This is a great recipe for pancreatitis or colitis in dogs:
- Ground turkey thigh and breast meat – 1 lbs. You could also use chicken or lamb depending on whether your pet tolerates it.
- 1 head of broccoli and cauliflower each, chopped into florets.
- 2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped evenly
- Half a cabbage – shredded or sliced thin
- Sweet potatoes – 2 washed, peeled and cubed
- 2-3 cloves of crushed garlic
- Chopped parsley
- Low sodium stock cube
- Olive oil – 2-3 tbsp
- In a pan, add the oil. Once hot, add the garlic and let it brown slightly.
- Add the veggies, and fry.
- Next add the meat and let it brown.
- Add the sodium stock cube and 2-3 cups of water. You can make the stew thicker if your pet likes it that way.
- Boil for 10-12 minutes.
Pour the stew over brown rice or white rice. Most dogs love the taste of this stew. You can also add it over dry kibble.
Other natural treatments
- Yogurt – As stated before, yogurt is great for dogs with canine colitis.
- Also feed mashed pumpkin puree. Pumpkin is great source of fiber and you can read some easy recipes of pumpkin based foods for dogs here.
- Slippery elm – The inner bark of this large tree is useful in tinctures and teas. It is soothing to the intestinal tract and is especially recommended for dogs with diarrhea, colitis, and stomach irritations. Slippery elm is a wonderful herb for persistent long term tummy problems in dogs. It calms irritated bowels and reduces flatulence.
- Fenugreek, comfrey, aloe vera and peppermint can also soothe the pain away and bring relief from discomfort. You can make a tea with these herbs.
- Calendula – This herb is related to the marigold family of plants. Its flowers are made into salves, balms, lotions and even as teas, tinctures etc. A tincture of calendula can aid in relieving colitis pain, swelling of intestines and other symptoms. Add a few drops to your pet’s water.
- Probiotics – Supplement your pet with a ‘friendly’ gut powder. Your vet can recommend the right supplement for you.
Tips for preventing and managing dog colitis
- Certain kinds of colitis are contagious. They can spread from dog to dog or even to and from humans if the pet comes in contact with infected feces.
- Never feed human foods to dogs with sensitive stomachs. Find out a list of foods that are good and not so good for dogs.
- Aromatherapy can be used for calming a dog if his colitis is stress related. Apply a few drops of chamomile oil in base oil to his tummy and massage gently.
- You can use magnesium phosphate salts for cramps and pain. Add a few Epsom salts to dog’s bath water and let him relax in it.
- Homeopathic remedy phosphorus can be used for recurrent issues.
Do check out my article on the best dog food for IBD or inflammatory bowel disease. In it, you will find some more tips for caring for a dog having repeat bouts of colitis.