Small dogs often suffer from episodic bouts of colitis that is actually inflammation of the colon or the large intestine. It is, however, imperative to keep a watch and report to a specialist if any of the following occur:
- There are frequent recurrences.
- The symptoms are deteriorating.
- The dog shows signs of a general illness.
Monitoring the symptoms is of prime importance because the indicators of colitis are almost similar to the symptoms of colon cancer in dogs. Colitis may be acute, episodic or chronic in nature, and the signs often last for two to three weeks. The type of predominant cells present in the inflamed colon is used to describe the specific disorders:
- Bacteria, fungus, viruses or parasites
- Intolerance to diet(allergies)
- Inappropriate diet
- Internal or external injury
Acute conditions normally do not present any signs of systemic illness, but in chronic cases the dog may experience a significant weight loss. General symptoms of colon cancer that are similar to those of colitis include the following:
- A combination of bright red colored blood in stool
- Mucus in stool
- Defecation with extra effort
- Increased frequency of defecation, sometimes many times a day
- Occasional vomiting even in healthy dogs
Apart from medical history and a physical examination, the veterinarian uses different types of tests to assess the various aspects of colon disorder. A complete blood count, serum biochemistry, abdominal X-rays and urine analysis are done to establish whether bacteria or parasites are causing the disease. Complete blood count, serum biochemistry and urine analysis are used to assess systemic illness and the presence of inflammatory cells.
If colitis is suspected, a colonoscopy or biopsy are required to rule out or establish the prevalence of cancer in the colon. A colonoscopy is a visual examination of the colon from the beginning of the large intestines to the rectum. It requires sedation and enough cleaning of the bowels to enable insertion of a flexible fiber optic endoscope to view the area. A sample tissue may also be taken and examined under a microscope for an absolute diagnosis.
Like the symptoms of liver cancer in dogs, colon cancer shows symptoms that may relate to other illnesses as well. That makes it is necessary to consider other illness also before evaluating symptoms compatible to colon cancer.
The most common types of colon cancer in dogs are adenocarcinoma and lymposarcoma. Prognosis of colon cancer depends upon the type of cancer and the response of the dog’s body to surgery and medical treatment. It is extremely important that cancer in pets, whether canine or feline cancer, be given the attention it deserves due to its lethal nature. The clinical course that colon cancer takes during treatment is highly unpredictable. As such, colon cancer, particularly in dogs with inflammatory colitis, requires a constant supervision of a veterinarian for effective management of medication and diet.