Stolley Park
Veterinary Hospital

3020 W. Stolley Park Road  Grand Island, Nebraska  68801  
Phone:  308-384-6272   Fax:  308-384-0984

August Newsletter

Stress Colitis

Bailey was having a great day. Her family had taken her on a long walk that morning, and she had been given a thorough belly scratch by her favorite young human, Joe, while he ate watermelon on their back porch. As the last of the daylight faded from that perfect day, Bailey followed Joe and the lawn chairs he was carrying into the back yard. That was when the world ended. At least it seemed that way, as the sky flamed with light and loud booms swamped all of her senses. It was, of course, July Fourth, a human holiday that noise-sensitive pets will never understand, and a holiday that causes more universal stress in our pets than almost any other day.

Stress is a reality of life. This is true in your pet’s life, too. Obvious events can be stressful: July 4th, thunderstorms, a new baby, a new pet, a move to a new home or spending time in a boarding facility can all cause noticeable changes in your pet’s health and behavior.

One of the most common side effects of stress that we see in our patients is diarrhea. This can manifest as anything from soft stools to bloody, watery feces. This is more common in dogs. The diarrhea is occasionally accompanied by vomiting. Animals with stress diarrhea will sometimes be more lethargic, and theywill often lose their appetites.

In most cases, what we call stress colitis is treatable with oral medications. In some cases (if there is blood in the feces or your pet is vomiting) we do recommend an overnight stay so that we can monitor food intake and fluid loss, in case replacement fluids are needed. For at home care, in addition to medication we often will send a special “bland diet” for a few days to give the intestines some time to rest.

The important thing to remember about stress colitis is that it is common and usually easy to treat. It is easier to treat if we intervene earlier in the course of the diarrhea, so please call if we can help!