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Colitis

Boxer Colitis

Overview

This canine health issue is so common in the Boxer breed, that it is often referred to as Boxer Colitis, even though it can affect other breeds as well. 

The word "colitis" means "inflammation of the colon" and it can be a chronic, troubling issue.

The colon of the dog becomes swollen with ulcers all along the lining of the dog’s large intestine. 

The swelling actually destroys cells in the colon’s lining and this is where the ulcers develop.

When a dog has this health problem, there are clear symptoms and luckily treatment is available.

Symptoms

The way that most owners know that something is wrong is from the dog's bowel movements. There are several red flags that will be noticed:

• Diarrhea– often completely uncontrollable - This means that the dog will often have accidents in the home, as they will not have time to signal that they need to go outside to the designated area. It will be what can be described as kind of "gooey"

• A puss-like mucus will be in the bowel movement - It will often be of a whitish color

• Blood in the bowel movement - This can be fresh (red) or if it has had time to dry in the feces, it will appear to be black

As this progresses, there will be more symptoms:

• Weight loss - This will be most noticeable around the rib cage

• Gas (flatulence and/or burping)

• Vomiting (For some this can be intense, for other Boxers, it does not present as a symptom)

Causes

If the Boxer dog has sudden symptoms, this may be a case of stress related colitis. This can happen with dogs who are moved into a new home and have not adapted well, put into a kennel or other situations which may make a dog feel very nervous.

This type of colon issue usually clears up once the dog used to a normal routine. While the dog is experiencing problems, it is often recommended to keep them on a very bland, home cooked diet. 

An example of the proper food to give would be fresh, well cooked white meat chicken cut into bite sized pieces along with cooked soft white rice. Some do well with some sweet potatoes or standard baking potatoes mixed in.
Other Causes

Aside from acute stress, the causes of this vary a bit wildly:
  • Infections (including Salmonella, Clostridium, and E. coli)
  • Parasite infections (including, Giardia, Cryptosporidium and whipworms)
  • Trauma
  • Allergic colitis (an allergy brings this on, often a reaction to a particular food - and sometimes one that the dog has ingested many times before - but has "grown into" the allergy
  • Primary inflammatory bowel disease
Colitis may also occur after ingesting contaminated food, being in contact with infected dogs or after chronic exposure to a wet environment.

Treatment

A diet of plain chicken, plain rice and potatoes as discussed above are part of the treatment plan for chronic colitis.

An antibiotic medication, Baytril being a common one, may be prescribed by the veterinarian which can help in many cases. The 2nd most commonly used antibiotics are with Clavomox or Metronidizole.  

Sulfasalazine (a sulfa medication used for treating ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis ) and Corticosteroid medicines may be given.

Dosage will vary depending on the severity of the colitis and the age of the Boxer. In general, 2 pills a day is common with Baytril. This, in combination with a bland diet can begin to work after approximately 24 hours and each day will bring about more improvement. Full results are often seen in 10 to 12 days.

Some dogs will respond well and then once they go back to eating kibble, symptoms may come back....In these cases, a bland diet may be recommended indefinitely. When feeding plain foods, be sure to not add any spices such as salt, pepper, etc. The goal is to feed simple foods that are easily digested and do not put any un-needed stress on the intestines during digestion. Foods high in fiber are not recommended.

Here are other key ingredients that seem to help a Boxer with Colitis:
  • Canned pumpkin - 2 tablespoons mixed into 1 meal per day
  • Yogurt - plain white yogurt, 1/4 cup per day, mixed into kibble or eaten right off a big spoon
  • Psyllium powder, 1/2 teaspoon, mixed well into 1/2 cup of warm water and then dribbled over food. Veterinarians often supply this.
  • Kaopectate - You'll want to double check with your veterinarian, however this works well for many Boxer dogs, with a dosage of 1 tablespoon (for adults), 2 times per day. This is for short term use, during times that bowels really need to be tightened up (high diarrhea days).
Another key step to helping dogs with colitis is providing your Boxer with outdoor access via doggie door or open door policy. 

They have to eliminate frequently and giving them the option to get out on their own relieves stress, as it can sometimes be mere seconds that a dog has to make it to his or her designated bathroom area and anxiety of "knowing" he won't make it in time can make things worse since stress affects this condition.

Histiocytic Ulcerative Colitis  

This is a unique form of this canine health problem and it is much more severe. If symptoms last longer than 2 weeks, a veterinarian should perform a complete exam to find out the cause. Stool samples should be examined to look for parasites or bacteria that can cause this canine disease. Blood tests should be done to check red and white blood counts of the dog.
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