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Natural Remedies: Treating Colitis, IBD and Other GI Issues In Dogs

What is Colitis in Dogs?

Colitis is a condition, which causes inflammation of the colon, also known as the large intestine or the large bowel. In dogs, colitis is a term often used to describe multiple gastrointestinal conditions. Colitis can be caused by stress, gut infections, food allergies, bacterial and parasitic infections and immune diseases.

Gastro-Intestinal Conditions That Are Often Called Colitis

Conditions that may be called colitis include:

Inflammatory bowel disease

Also known as IBD, inflammatory bowel disease occurs when white blood cells invade the intestine, causing the lining to become swollen. IBD in dogs can affect appetite and impair digestion and the absorption of nutrients. Symptoms include chronic diarrhea and vomiting.

Irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is often triggered by stress. Stress colitis in dogs can cause changes in bowel habits, loss of appetite, reduced energy levels, bloating and vomiting.


Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas is inflamed. Pancreatitis in dogs can be very serious and even life-threatening, so it is critical to seek expert advice. Symptoms include hunching the back, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and abdominal pain.

Parasitic infections

The most common parasites found in dog intestines include hookworms, roundworms, whipworms and Giardia. Gastrointestinal symptoms include diarrhea, blood or mucus in the stools, bloating and abdominal distension, weight loss and a lack of energy.

Bacterial infections

Bacterial infections, such as salmonella and Campylobacter, can cause diarrhea, bloody stools, weight loss, lack of appetite, vomiting and fatigue.

Food allergies

If your dog has an allergy or they are intolerant to certain foods, they may develop symptoms that affect their appetite and bowel movements. Examples of the most common food allergies in dogs include dairy foods, eggs, beef and wheat.

Colitis GI Signs and Symptoms to Watch For in Your Dog

Common symptoms of colitis in dogs include:

  • Loose, runny stools
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Increased flatulence
  • Blood or mucus (or both) in the stools
  • Abdominal pain
  • Straining to pass stools
  • Lethargy and fatigue

If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, it’s important to consult your vet. Gastrointestinal conditions can often be managed effectively with a tailored diet and other therapies and treatments to ease symptoms.

A Holistic Approach to Treating Your Dog’s Colitis With an Improved Diet

Start with a dog-friendly elimination diet

If you think there is a chance that your dog may have a food allergy or intolerance, it may be beneficial to try a food elimination diet. This involves cutting out all the foods your dog usually eats and using just two basic ingredients, such as turkey and sweet potatoes, for a period of time. As your dog’s digestive symptoms ease, you can add additional ingredients gradually. Observe and note down your dog’s symptoms and any changes in their eating and bowel habits.

Most holistic vets will recommend a grain-free diet

It is important to consider a diet for dogs with colitis carefully. The foods you give your dog can impact digestive health and either improve or exacerbate symptoms. Most holistic vets will recommend grain-free recipes. This is because grains can increase the risk of sensitivity in the GI tract and contribute to inflammation.

Try adding digestive enzymes and probiotics to your dog’s food

Digestive enzymes, yogurt and probiotics can help to improve digestion, alleviate symptoms and enhance absorption of key nutrients required for optimum gut and general health. Examples of probiotics that can be added to dog food include lactobacillus and acidophilus.

Add herbs to your dog’s diet (Slippery elm, calendula, marshmallow, pumpkin seed)

Herbs that are beneficial for colitis include pumpkin seed, calendula, marshmallow and slippery elm. Pumpkin seeds, calendula and slippery elm boast anti-inflammatory properties, and they help to protect the delicate lining of the GI tract. Plantain can also help to soothe and reduce inflammation of the lining, and pectin, a soluble dietary fiber, helps to regulate bowel movements to lower the risk of diarrhea. We recommend The Honest Kitchen Perfect Form supplement, which is packed with natural herbs and goodness, to promote healthy digestion and support dogs prone to colitis and bouts of IBS.

Grain-Free Foods to Help With IBD, IBS and Other Colitis Symptoms

If you’re looking for advice about how to treat colitis in dogs naturally, and you want to introduce your dog to grain-free foods, here are some products to try from The Honest Kitchen:

Health Disclaimer: This post is educational in nature and doesn’t constitute health advice. Please consult your pet's veterinarian or other healthcare professional for specific guidance on this topic.

Brandy Vachal

Brandy Vachal Moore is a dog mom to three pint-sized dogs: Donnatella the Maltese, Ernie the Yorkie-Maltese mix and Rico the Chihuahua. When she’s not defending her personal space from three dogs who know no boundaries. Brandy enjoys anything fitness related, traveling, hiking, and being outdoors in the San Diego sunshine. She loves all things social media and journalism and has worked for The Honest Kitchen for the past 5 years.
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