Colitis in Dogs: Causes and Treatment
The causes of canine colitis are not fully understood. However, there are several theories that have been proposed. One theory suggests that it may be due to immune system imbalance or inflammation. Another theory suggests that it may be caused by bacterial infection, viruses, parasites, or other factors. There is no known cure for canine colitis; however, various treatments can help alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life.
Autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are all autoimmune disorders. Autoimmunity refers to an abnormal response to a foreign substance or germs. These substances cause your body’s immune system to attack healthy tissue and organs. Your immune system attacks the lining of your digestive tract when you have IBD or Crohn’s disease. Your immune system attacks your pancreas when you have Crohn’s disease.
Your immune system attacks your liver when you have Crohn’s disease. Your immune system attacks your kidneys and other organs if you have IBD or Crohn’s disease.
Why do people develop IBD?
There is no one, clear cause for IBD; however, genetic and environmental factors have been identified as potential causes. Heredity appears to be a factor in the disease process. If you have IBD, there is a one in five chance that someone in your family will also have it. Your risk increases to a three in four chance if both parents have it.
While IBD is not a contagious disease, it may run in families. This suggests that certain genes increase a family member’s risk of developing the disease. Most people with a family history of IBD do not have it, but if you have several family members with IBD, your chances of having it are higher.
Theories suggest that an abnormal response by the immune system to certain bacteria in the digestive tract may cause IBD. Antibodies that attack the bacteria may damage the digestive tract and cause inflammation.
A bacterial infection may trigger IBD in some people.
A reaction to certain medicines, especially NSAIDs, may also trigger IBD.
Smoking also may be a factor in developing IBD.
Less often, stressful life events such as deaths in the family or divorce may contribute to triggering IBD.
Genetics and environment may interact to cause IBD.
Inflammatory bowel disease treatment
There is no cure for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), but there are treatments that can help control symptoms and maintain a good quality of life. Treatment depends on the type of IBD you have, its severity, and how it affects your body. Treatments can include medication, such as antibiotics or other drugs, and surgery.
There are several types of medication used to treat IBD. Your doctor may prescribe medications that control your diarrhea, for example, loperamide (Imodium A-D). In more severe cases and cases where the intestines do not absorb nutrients properly, your doctor may prescribe immunomodulators or biologics.
Immunomodulators help the body’s immune system fight off foreign invaders. These drugs can be effective in treating IBD, but because they affect the whole immune system, they cause a higher risk of serious infection. Immunomodulators are less effective in people under age 16 and over age 50.
Biologics are man-made antibodies that block certain actions of cells and chemicals involved in IBD. They are more targeted than immunomodulators, but they are also more expensive and have greater potential side effects.
Surgery to remove diseased sections of the intestines is used to treat people with Crohn’s disease that does not respond to medication or cannot be managed with medication. Surgery may also be considered for people with ulcerative colitis if the colon is severely damaged or if there are complications such as an abscess (collection of pus).
Personal hygiene for inflammatory bowel disease
Most people can maintain normal personal hygiene practices, but have a slightly higher risk of getting an infection. People with Crohn’s disease should take care not to irritate their inflamed or diseased sections of intestine. Having part of the intestine removed during surgery can increase the risk of an abscess.
A normal, healthy diet should be maintained unless your doctor recommends otherwise. If your disease or treatment requires a special diet, your doctor will let you know. In general, a well-balanced diet that includes all necessary vitamins and nutrients is important. Eating often can also help avoid nausea and vomiting. If you have to go through chemotherapy or radiation therapy, a diet high in protein and calories will help you avoid weight loss.
If your IBD is in remission, regular exercise may be beneficial to your health. Talk to your doctor before engaging in strenuous physical activity. Any abdominal straining or coughing can potentially disturb areas of your intestines susceptible to IBD, so try to avoid these activities. If your abdominal pain is severe or causes fever or bloody stool, seek immediate medical attention.
If you have had portions of your intestines removed, speak with your surgeon about what foods can be tolerated. You may not be able to eat certain fibrous or hard-to-digest foods (such as raw vegetables). Also, your diet should be increased in liquids and fiber. If you smoke, you should definitely stop because it will increase your risk of getting a Crohn’s flare-up. Inhaled steroids can also increase the risk of a flare-up.
Should I keep my IBD a secret or let people know?
Most people with inflammatory bowel disease can go about their daily lives without too many problems. Even with complications, most people can still lead an active life. A positive attitude and support from family and friends can help you cope with the physical and emotional effects of IBD.
Whether or not to tell others that you have IBD is entirely your decision. Some people prefer to keep it private until symptoms become severe. Others find it helpful to talk to others who have IBD and join a support group. Still others choose to tell only family and close friends. Although people who don’t have IBD may not always understand the problems and issues you face, they can be a source of emotional support.
It’s up to you whether or not you want to tell them.
If you do decide to tell someone, keep in mind that you can’t predict how that person will react. Some people will be empathetic. Others may not know what to say and get embarrassed or uncomfortable. The important thing is to always be yourself and do what feels right for you.
Will I get insurance discriminatio n?
Sometimes insurance companies refuse to pay for treatment or even deny the existence of your illness. This is called “insurance discrimination.” Your doctor can help you put together the information your insurance company needs to pay for your medication. If the insurance company refuses to pay, you can also appeal this decision. Most appeals are successful if there is enough medical documentation to prove your illness.
How does IBD affect relationships?
It’s normal to have to make adjustments in your relationships when you have a chronic illness. It may be difficult for you and your loved ones to adapt at times. If you feel like the problem is getting out of hand, consider speaking with a counselor or therapist. Sometimes, all it takes is a fresh perspective to improve the situation.
How will IBD affect my long-term plans?
No one knows for sure what the future holds. But no matter what happens, you still have choices and you still have control over your life. Think about what your goals are and develop a plan to achieve them. You may have to be flexible, but as long as you’re working towards something, you’re heading in the right direction.
Sources & references used in this article:
- A grading system for lymphocytic plasmacytic colitis in dogs (L Roth, AM Walton, MS Leib… – Journal of Veterinary …, 1990 – journals.sagepub.com)
- Immunologic “colitis” in dogs (RO Bicks, RH Walker – The American journal of digestive diseases, 1962 – Springer)
- A granulomatous colitis of dogs with histologic resemblance to Whipple’s disease (HJ Van Kruiningen, RJ Montali… – Pathologia …, 1965 – journals.sagepub.com)
- Reproduction of ulcerative colitis in dogs (JK Poppe – Archives of Surgery, 1941 – jamanetwork.com)
- The ultrastructure of macrophages in granulomatous colitis of Boxer dogs (HJ Van Kruiningen – Veterinary pathology, 1975 – journals.sagepub.com)
- Experimental Acute Amebic Colitis in Dogs. (EC Faust – Proceedings of the Society for Experimental …, 1930 – journals.sagepub.com)