Colitis in Dogs: Is metronidazole helpful?

dog food eating

Acute colitis is one of the most common syndromes seen in dogs by veterinarians. It can be very painful and uncomfortable for your dog.

In many cases, the cause of colitis in dogs is rarely discovered and treatment is geared toward treating symptoms and not the root cause.

To read more about the possible causes of colitis in dogs visit this blog post.

One medication often used to help ‘treat’ or alleviate the symptoms of colitis in dogs is metronidazole. Any owner with a dog that has gastrointestinal issues is probably extremely familiar with the drug as it is often times used in the initial treatment of dogs with colitis.

Metronidazole or Flagyl is a fairly popular antibiotic prescribed by vets for treating giardiasis, inflammatory bowel disease, gastrointestinal infections, and colitis. It is used for its known antimicrobial, antiprotozoal, and anti-inflammatory effects.

However, if the cause of a dog’s colitis is non-infectious, metronidazole just won’t do the trick and the dog will continue to suffer.

In addition, some dogs do experience side effects of metronidazole, most commonly diarrhea. Other signs of a reaction to the medication are

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Urine discoloration
  • Drooling

In these cases another method of treating colitis in dogs needs to be evaluated, in a study done by The Ohio State they evaluated the role of diet for treating acute colitis in dogs and found that dogs fed a psyllium-enhanced easily digestible diet faired better than those given metronidazole.

The Study

The study looked at the empirical management of colitis through strategies that include dietary modification, antimicrobials (metronidazole), probiotics, and fiber supplementation.

The findings concluded that dietary management was an effective treatment for noninfectious acute colitis when compared to dietary management accompanied by metronidazole.

Actually, metronidazole was actually associated with a slower treatment response and dysbiosis or an imbalance in the gut microbes.

Researchers also found that the inclusion of psyllium fiber was negligible and not as large a factor as once thought, however, the diet should be easily digestible for dogs.

The authors conclude that instead of metronidazole being one of the primary treatments initially used to treat colitis in dogs dietary management with an easily digestible food should be preferred.

So, let’s find out what makes a dog food easily digestible

dog treats

What makes a dog food easy to digest?

Here are five things that make dog food easier to digest or easily digestible.

1. Low Fat

Do you ever wonder why dogs with pancreatitis have to be fed a low-fat diet? One reason is that foods that are higher in fat are more difficult to digest than those with lower fat content.

2. Size

Yes, size matters, per Eukanuba, solid ingredients that are ‘precision ground’ or ground extremely fine are much easier to digest.

3. Enzymes

Foods with enzymes are usually more digestible to dogs

4. Protein

The protein in your dog’s food should be very high-quality preferably. Lamb and chicken have proven to be the most digestible forms of proteins for dogs however, if your dog has a chicken allergy you should eliminate it from their diet.

5. Pro- and Pre-biotics

Probiotics work to ensure the gut bacteria are healthy and help to maintain digestive health

The researchers do point out that there have been very limited studies around medication, diet, and colitis in dogs and this is just one study and that many more are necessary around diet and colitis but this is definitely a start!

To read the study click here