It’s true – even Labradors get Colitis. But what is this canine disease? Colitis has different classifications based on the predominant cell types present in the intestinal lining. There are four types: eosinophilic, histiocytic, plasmacytic-lymphocytic, and granulomatous. In some cases, it is caused by a genetic defect, especially with the plasmacytic-lymphocytic and histiocytic forms. Other cases of colitis cannot be pinpointed or explained. Colitis in Labradors can be the result of the following:
• Infectious diseases caused by bacteria, fungi, viruses, or parasites (particularly whipworms)
• Cancer of the colon
• Dietary intolerance
• Medications including antibiotics
• Dietary indiscretion
One of the most common symptoms of Colitis is diarrhea. Sometimes, this diarrhea can bloody or contain mucus. Other symptoms include abdominal pain, flatulence, painful defecation, straining and prolonged squatting. Dehydration is often present as a result of the diarrhea. If your Labrador has Colitis, he may also be lethargic and pass small stools. Sometimes, the straining and prolonged squatting and painful defecation is mistaken for constipation.
Colitis comes in different forms, depending on the duration. It can be chronic, acute or chronically episodic. Chronic colitis is constant; an acute episode can suddenly occur. Chronically episodic means Colitis will come and go.
Because Colitis can be highly variable, it’s easy to confuse it with other digestive tract issues. A vet must distinguish it from other diseases that may share common symptoms and determine the ultimate root of the problem.
Labradors suffering from severe diarrhea need to undergo several diagnostic tests. These include a physical examination, complete blood count, fecal examination, and x-rays. First, the vet will treat the dehydration caused by diarrhea by correcting the fluid-electrolyte imbalances. If that doesn’t help, your vet will move on to specific blood tests, an ultrasound, and colonoscopy. This will give the vet a chance to closely look at the intestinal lining and obtain a tissue sample for biopsy.
Depending on the nature and cause of the disease, the line of treatment will vary. If parasites are the cause of the colitis, a parasiticide will be prescribed. If it is linked to your Labrador’s diet, a dietary change and antibiotics may help the issue. Often, all that’s need is a high-fiber diet to help alleviate the symptoms.
When colitis is caused by an abnormality of the immune system, prednisone and similar drugs are usually prescribed. This condition usually occurs with histiocytic colitis and plasmocytic-lymphocytic colitis.
If your Labrador is diagnosed with Colitis, your vet will most likely put your dog on a prescribed special diet to prevent further episodes. If the cause is genetic, a dog suffering from the condition should never be allowed to breed.