Colitis Holistic Protocol for Dogs and Cats has been developed by a certified Master Herbalist and certified Canine Nutritionist with The Pet Health and Nutrition Center. Our Ulcerative Colitis Protocol is the finest coordination of science and research-based recommendations that include diet, supplementation and herbal remedies to help support your dog or cat with colitis. Everyone here at The Pet Health and Nutrition Center truly cares and wants to help your pet get better, so give our suggestions a try because we are confident you will be pleased with the results.
1. What is Colitis in Dogs and Cats?
Colitis, also called ulcerative colitis, along with Crohn's Disease, are two forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that can occur in your dog or cat. The primary difference between the two conditions is that Crohn's can occur anywhere in the digestive tract, and may even affect the skin, eyes and joints, but more commonly occurs in your dog or cat's ileum (the last portion of the small intestine). Ulcerative colitis, on the other hand. is primarily limited to the lining of your dog or cat's colon (large intestine). In canines and felines with IBD, the immune system mistakes food, bacteria, or other materials in the GI tract for foreign substances and responds by sending white blood cells into the lining of the bowels. The result of the immune system’s attack is chronic inflammation and a condition called ulcerative colitis.
2. Causes and Symptoms of Colitis in Dogs and Cats
What are the Causes of Colitis in Canines and Felines?
There are a number of possible causes of your dog or cat's ulcerative colitis. The more common causes are listed below.
Studies have produced several factors that lead many to believe there is a genetic component to ulcerative colitis and in a relatively high percentage of cases multiple family members can share this condition.
The majority of processed pet foods contain highly refined and low-fiber ingredients like corn, potatoes and various flours. These often poor quality ingredients have been shown to facilitate the condition of colitis in our dogs and cats. Very often ingredients such as tomato pomace or beet pulp are added to pet foods as a source of fiber, however, being by-products (or waste products) of the human food industry, they generally make poor additions to pet foods. In the wild our canines and felines would consume fur, providing ample fiber, and bone, providing bulk, to create normal stools and prevent diarrhea. Ingredients such as ground bone are found in commercially available raw foods and help to create healthy stools and naturally express anal glands.
Additionally, processed pet foods contain so many often low-quality ingredients along with flavors, colors and other synthetic ingredients that it can be quite hard to tell which ingredient(s) may be contributing to your dog or cat’s colitis issues. For example, chelated proteinate minerals found in most pet foods are marketed as being more easily absorbed. Unfortunately, Nature’s Logic, a natural pet food manufacturer, being able to review ingredient data from companies that produce proteinate minerals for the pet product industry, discovered some interesting information. First off, all the trace mineral salts used to make metal proteinates (like copper proteinate, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, calcium proteinate, etc) are synthetic substances.
In addition, without exception, all the proteinates they reviewed used hydrolyzed soy as the protein molecule. The hydrolyzation process also converts protein to MSG. So, in virtually every commercially available canned and kibble pet food you have synthetic substances, soy and MSG. Considering soy products and MSG are often at the top of the list of substances that can cause inflammation and allergic reactions, do you think it is possible that these commercial pet foods could be contributing to your pet’s colitis and other health issues? Of course they could!
Poorly digested food is a common problem in our dogs and cats and often contributes to colitis. This occurs because processed pet foods, and the misuse of certain medications, can interfere with the proper secretion of stomach acid. This means that larger food particles will not be broken down properly into their smaller constituents that allows for normal absorption through the digestive tract and healthy elimination. Instead, these larger food particles can contribute to damage and disease in the digestive tract resulting in immune system disturbances and related inflammation. The body’s reaction to these undigested, inflammatory particles is to eliminate them from the body as quickly as possible resulting in diarrhea. Unfortunately, before this happens damage to the lining of the digestive tract can occur as we see in dogs and cats with ulcerative colitis.
There are various species of bacteria and viruses that are suspected to be potential causes of colitis. Many of these have been identified in people, such as rotavirus and Epstein-Barr virus, but similar organisms may be responsible for colitis symptoms in our dogs and cats as well.
Drugs / Supplements
Certain drugs can cause symptoms similar to colitis in dogs and cats for a number of different reasons. One reason is the body’s desire to remove offending substances from your animal’s body as quickly as possible. This results in digestive waste being moving through the digestive tract more quickly with less time spent in the colon where healthy stool is formed.
Another reason is the altering of the balance of digestive flora. This certainly is the case with antibiotics that destroy colonies of beneficial organisms allowing the overgrowth of invasive, opportunistic organisms like Candida albicans. These unwelcome organisms often secrete toxins and interfere with proper digestion. If your dog or cat’s elimination behavior changes soon after the addition of a new medication there is a very good possibility that the drug is contributing to the diarrhea or other symptoms. If you aren’t sure you can do an online search to check for the side effects of the medication you are using. Due to the potential for side effects related to medications, we recommend a holistic approach using natural supplements and herbal remedies as a colitis treatment approach for dogs and cats. Medications can always be resorted to later if absolutely necessary.
Another condition that could be confused with colitis in dogs and cats is called osmotic diarrhea. This occurs when certain substances cause excess water to be retained or drawn into the bowels based on the principles of osmosis. Excessive sugar (as with lactose intolerance - a milk sugar) or salt intake can cause osmotic diarrhea as can the use of too much water-soluble molecules, like magnesium or vitamin C, that result in increased fluid retention in the bowel and liquid stool.
Dog and Cat Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms
Symptoms of colitis in canines and felines are caused by the animal not feeling well due to inflammation in the digestive tract along with possible ulcerations and include:
- Soft stool or diarrhea
- Pain/discomfort in the lower abdomen
- Blood in stool due to ulceration
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- General malaise
3. Standard Veterinary Medicine Approach to Colitis in Dogs and Cats
Your veterinarian will examine your dog for underlying illnesses and assess for dehydration. He or she may take a stool sample to check for the presence of internal parasites, as well as conduct blood tests to identify a possible cause of your pet's symptoms. Other diagnostic tests might include radiographs, ultrasound, cultures, endoscopy and biopsy. The diagnostic tests performed will depend on how long the symptoms have been going on and the severity of your pet's condition. Treatment recommendations will be determined by the results of x-rays or other diagnostic tests that determine if any abnormalities are present in the GI tract.
"The inability of steroids to heal the bowel, although they effectively down regulate inflammation, may be due to their deleterious effects on tissue restitution in segments of bowel with deep ulcers. By contrast, long lasting remission maintained with immunomodulators (e.g. herbs) may be associated with thorough bowel healing."(1)
For a condition like ulcerative colitis, it is most common for a veterinarian to prescribe an antibiotic for your dog or cat even when the cause of the diarrhea or other symptoms is unknown. Overusing antibiotics in this way is dangerous and leads to imbalances in your dog or cat that can lead to lifelong disabilities as well as the possibility of stronger, antibiotic resistant bacteria strains in the future. Your vet may also prescribe a steroid medication in an effort to reduce inflammation within the digestive tract. This may be necessary for some very short term needs, but if the symptoms are not life-threatening then other more holistic approaches will be more suitable with less undesirable side effects. A natural treatment approach for dogs and cats with colitis can be a great option with which to begin.
When to Bring Your Pet to The Vet
Bring your dog or cat to the vet if severe diarrhea continues for more than a day, or if you observe lethargy, vomiting, fever, dark-colored or bloody stools, straining to defecate, decreased appetite or unexplained weight loss. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice your puppy has diarrhea, as it can be an important indicator of serious diseases in young dogs.
4. Natural Colitis Protocol for Dogs and Cats
The goal of our Natural Colitis Protocol is to support the health and proper functioning of your dog or cat's digestive tract by reducing inflammation, improving digestion and replenishing beneficial flora.* At the same time in a holistic fashion, we want to remove any contributing factors whether these are in your pet's diet, environment or occur during veterinary visits. Since we do not necessarily know the root cause(s) of the imbalance in your particular animal, we do know from our research and experience what are the primary culprits. If you were wondering how to treat colitis in your dog or cat naturally, you have come to the right place!
If your dog or cat has more severe ulcerative colitis that does not respond to a natural protocol as hoped, please email us for more suggestions as we have recipes for herbal teas and other suggestions that may be of further assistance.
Core Recommendations Suggested products are included in the Core Colitis Package found below.
Our "Core Recommendations" form the backbone of our Natural Colitis Protocol for dogs and cats. They consist of the supplement and herbal remedy recommendations that we feel are the most important to provide to your dog or cat for their ulcerative colitis. Natural supplements and herbal remedies for ulcerative colitis are displayed as a package and individually at the bottom of this page along with other helpful supplements from which you may make additional selections. Pet foods can be purchased at your finer, local pet stores. If you desire more individualized attention please feel free to use our Consultation Form to provide detailed information about your dog or cat with colitis so we can better help you.
Core Recommendation #1 - Diarrhea Relief Formula
Colitis is caused by inflammation in the lower digestive tract that results in diarrhea and other uncomfortable symptoms. Our Diarrhea Relief is a wonderful natural approach to colitis because it can contribute to healing, not just the suppression of symptoms like medications. This natural herbal remedy contains organic herbs known for their anti-inflammatory benefits as well as soluble fibers and a special bacteria that provide benefits such as:
- Reduce inflammation in the GI tract
- Slow the transit time through the digestive tract so there is less liquid stool
- Act as carminatives to reduce uncomfortable symptoms related to gas and cramping
- Create bulk for a firmer stool
- Quickly replaces beneficial bacteria that are being flushed out by diarrhea
Core Recommendation #2 - Repair and Strengthen
This formula contains cold-processed whey protein isolate supplying the important amino acid glutamine, colostrum that provides anti-inflammatory proline-rich polypeptides and healing growth factors that help to repair damaged tissue along with organic Aloe vera that provides soothing, anti-inflammatory and healing benefits. All these nutrients are important to the growth and maintenance of intestinal cells and can greatly benefit dogs and cats with colitis in a natural manner.
Core Recommendation #3 - Sunflower Lecithin
This supplement provides lecithin, which is itself a mixture of phospholipids. According to research, 70 percent of the phospholipids in the intestinal mucosal lining are lecithin. They help form a protective barrier without which ulceration and invasion of harmful bacteria can occur. By supplementing with sunflower lecithin you can help restore this important protective lining that protects the digestive tract.
Core Recommendation #4 - Microbiome Harmony
This supplement is a synbiotic, which is a blend of probotic and prebiotic. The importance of this is that by combing a highly researched prebiotic with a specialized probiotic you can turbo charge the growth of the probiotic organism. This blend will help to quickly create a beneficial environment in the digestive tract for the growth of friendly bacteria colonies.
Whole Food Nutrition
With a condition like ulcerative colitis your dog or cat needs the highest value nutrition possible to provide the body with what it needs for maintenance and repair. Because of this we highly recommend a whole food diet, which just means real food not processed. We normally recommend raw food because this is how carnivores, like canines and felines, have evolved to eat and they do best on a high protein, low carbohydrate diet. However, some animal's with conditions like colitis may have an initial problem properly digesting raw food so you will have to see what works best for your particular dog or cat. Fortunately, there are now many quality premixes to choose from to which you can add your own raw or cooked meat.
Be aware that kibble diets are harder for an animal to digest and most contain many highly processed ingredients that can contribute to inflammatory conditions in the digestive tract and this is the last thing your dog or cat with colitis needs at this point. Poor digestion can contribute to the symptoms we generally see in animals with colitis like diarrhea and even arthritis and allergy issues. In addition, because commercial pet foods contain so many different ingredients that are often poor quality, it can be difficult to determine which ingredient may be contributing to your pet's ulcerative colitis.
If you decide to make a homemade diet please research the proper way to do this and make sure to add a calcium source. For more information and some product recommendations read our article How to Feed Your Dog or How to Feed Your Cat that can be found in our Education section.
This is an effective, natural, herbal remedy for diarrhea and stomach upset that can occur in a dog or cat with colitis. Keep this herbal remedy on hand for those times your dog or cat gets an upset tummy or a flareup related to their ulcerative colitis. The organic herbs in this natural formula work wonderfully to relieve gas, indigestion and nausea that can make your pet feel awful. This can be given daily before or after meals or kept in the fridge to use as needed.
BioPreparation Microalgae Supplement
When your dog or cat is suffering with an imbalance like colitis there will be an increase in free radical production that can further damage tissue and cause premature aging and possibly other disease. We want to provide your animal with high quality antioxidants to neutralize these free radicals along with other nutrients to aid the body's healing and rebuilding processes. This specialized blend of microalgae is able to travel directly into the cells lining the digestive tract providing nutrients on a cellular level without the need for digestion! In addition, nutrients from the microalgae are able to cross the blood brain barrier and the retinal barrier for amazing effects on the brain and eyes as well as the entire body. This is truly an amazing and beneficial supplement that we recommend to all of our clients as part of a natural approach for colitis in dogs and cats. Select either F2 Core (basic daily support) or F3 Forte (more concentrated) depending on which you feel is best for your dog or cat - contact us with any questions.
If you feel that your dog or cat has come into contact with a microorganism that is causing diarrhea, either because you recently went for a hike or to the dog park, then providing this herbal antimicrobial formula could be of benefit. This herbal remedy contains organic herbs that help to strengthen the immune system while providing antimicrobial activity effective against bacteria, viruses, protozoa and fungi. When your animal's condition is not considered to be life-threatening, this formula can make a great alternative to broad spectrum antibiotics that can eliminate beneficial organisms throughout the entire body possibly leading to, or aggravating, imbalances like ulcerative colitis or urinary tract infections that can last the lifetime of your dog or cat.
We highly recommend you add in our Daily Multi Plus when your dog or cat has healed. This supplement is our foundation supplement and an important addition to every animal's diet. Formulated with organic, whole foods that are extremely important to a canine or feline's nutritional needs, but are often missing from the majority of commercial pet food diets. This special natural supplement provides the enzymes, probiotics, prebiotics, glandulars, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients that are so beneficial to the body's daily maintenance and repair needs for healthy aging. In this formula you will find the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants recommended by the veterinarian community for colitis - only in an organic, whole food form!
Weatherspoon, D. (January 11, 2018). The difference between crohns, UC and IBD. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/crohns-disease/crohns-ibd-uc-difference
Are the chelated proteinate minerals added to my pet food I use better than a non-chelated form of a mineral? Retrieved from http://www.natureslogic.com/bl_faq/are-the-chelated-proteinate-minerals/
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