This type of bowel inflammation develops over a short period of time and might be affecting certain sections or the small intestines as a whole.
Enteritis is characterized by loose stools and runny diarrhea. Passings can be as much as pure water and might have a foul smell. Sometimes traces of blood are seen inside diarrhea. The overall health of the dog is not necessarily impaired. Only in severe cases do animals become feverish, lethargic and invariably anorexic. If no water is consumed, the excessive loss of fluid and electrolytes due to diarrhea can result in dehydration. Continued diarrhea can become life threatening, especially in puppies. Since the mucosa of the of the intestine renews itself fully every 3-5 days, many cases of enteritis improve after this stretch of time. It is possible, that if untreated, the condition might become chronic and symptoms may persist over weeks or even months. This is more likely if allergies are an underlying cause, as in inflammatory bowel disease.
The most common cause of enteritis is a bacterial and/or viral infection. Transmission occurs through direct contact with another infected animal or their infected excrement. Since viruses can be very resistant to the outside world, humans can act as a vector and spread the agent around (i.e. under shoes, on car tires, clothes) and thereby infect their dogs. Sometimes actual epidemics occur in urban areas similar to that of human influenza. Dietary intolerances can also disrupt normal bowel function and cause enteritis. While different for each dog, certain ingredients and preservatives found in pet foods can irritate the intestinal tract and cause inflammation. Also, since food allergies can develop over a longer stretch of time, it is possible for dogs to continue eating foods that contain irritants over a long period of time–without problems–before they develop symptoms of enteritis. Other possible causes of enteritis are sudden changes in diet, parasites, or intoxication.
Your vet can usually diagnose enteritis by a thorough examination of the animal and its clinical history. Viruses and bacteria can be detected by running tests on fecal samples. Antibiotics may show good results if bacterial infection plays a role. Unfortunately, these medicines have no direct effects on viruses. Therapy is mainly aimed at stabilizing the patient and replacing lost fluids if necessary. In cases of severe enteritis the animal will have to be hospitalized and given intravenous fluids. Recovery can be enhanced by introducing a sensitivity diet.
If symptoms are mild and the dogs do not appear to be clinically ill they may be placed on fast for 24 hours in order to settle their stomach and bowels while limiting further irritation of the inflamed mucosa. Even while undergoing a fast, water has to be made available to the animal at all times. In order to help your dog, you can add salt and sugar, and sprinkle it over lukewarm water. By feeding your dog this mixture throughout the day, you can help to replace electrolytes and add some extra calories. After the 24-hour fasting period, a mild diet of boiled chicken or turkey with soft-boiled rice should be fed to your dog. The best way to feed your dog is in small portions divided throughout the day. Divide a normal daily ration into 4-6 smaller portions, and offer them at different times in the course of the day. If symptoms do not improve within 2-3 days, you should consult your vet immediately. When vomiting and diarrhea begin to gradually stop, the dog can be returned to his usual diet. But, when returning your dog to its normal diet, make the change gradually. You can replace a larger portion of the chicken/rice diet everyday until full replacement is achieved after appx. 1 week.