Spotting blood in your dog’s stool, diarrhea or vomit is bound to cause both concern and alarm. Today our Veterinary Internal Medicine Specialists at Carolina Veterinary Specialists in Winston-Salem NC share some of the causes, symptoms and treatment for bloody diarrhea and vomit in dogs.
Why does my dog have blood in their stool?Noticing any type of blood in your dog's stool, diarrhea or vomit merits a call to your veterinarian. Being able to describe and identify the type of blood in your dog's stool or vomit can help your veterinarian to determine the source of the blood, and will ultimately play a roll in diagnosing your dog's condition.
Not Actually Blood
- First it's important to determine whether what you see is actually blood, since ingesting red foods, Pepto-Bismol or red items such as a lipstick or crayon can cause your dog's stool or vomit to appear as if it is blood streaked. Take a really analytical look at your dog's vomit or stool, and be prepared to provide your vet with a detailed description.
Hematochezia in Dog's Stool
If the blood in your pet's stool is bright red, then it's Hematochezia. Typically, hematochezia stems from bleeding in the lower digestive tract, rectum or colon. Bleeding in this area will point your vet to investigate a particular set of conditions such as parvovirus, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, cancer, viral and bacterial infections, parasites, digestion of something inappropriate, sudden change in pet's diet, rectal injury, or colitis.
Melena in Dog's Stool
- If the blood in your dog's stool is darker, sticky and tar-like then it's Melena. Melena is blood that has either been swallowed or digested which points to issues in your pet's upper digestive tract, esophagus, stomach, or upper small intestine such as parasites, liver cancer. Other common causes of melena in stool include ulcers caused by medications, blood clotting disorders, post-surgery complications, tumors, polyps, or ingestion of blood (licking a bleeding wound, a mouth injury or a bloody nose).
Other Causes of Bloody Stool in Dogs
- Some other causes for blood in your dog's stool include intestinal blockages, trauma, bacterial infections, or fissures.
Why does my dog have blood in their vomit?
While taking a close look a vomit is never pleasant, in order to determine the cause of the blood in your dog's vomit you will need to provide your vet with a detailed description of the blood. Does your dog's vomit have a couple of streaks of red blood through it, or is all of the vomit tinged pink or red? Does the vomit contain a black or dark substance that looks a bit like coffee grinds? Dark coffee grind-like blood can indicates that the blood has been partially digested and as such means that the bleeding has been occurring over a longer period of time and is certainly cause for concern.
As with the appearance of blood in your dog's stool, when you see blood in your dog's vomit it can be caused by something minor such as swallowing blood from a wound or nose bleed, but could also be due to more serious issues such as internal bleeding.
What should I do if I see blood in my dog’s stool or vomit?
Regardless of the type of blood you see in your dog's stool or vomit it is important to contact your vet, or your nearest emergency vet right away. Bloody diarrhea or vomiting can be a veterinary emergency requiring immediate care. Some causes of blood in stool or vomit are potentially fatal if left untreated, so it's always wise to err on the side of caution.
At Carolina Veterinary Specialists, our board-certified Veterinary Internal Medicine Specialist is equipped to offer advanced diagnostics and care for pets with internal health conditions. Our emergency veterinary team treats animals in circumstances requiring urgent medical care, including life-threatening emergencies.
How is bloody stool or vomit in dogs diagnosed?
Diagnosing the underlying cause of bloody vomit or diarrhea can be challenging. If routine diagnostic procedures are unsuccessful, more invasive procedures may be needed to diagnose the issue. The diagnostic procedure may include the following:
A Detailed Medical History
The more detailed information you can provide to your the vet, the better. Some of the valuable information in your dog’s medical history may include:
- Whether your dog has experienced intestinal blockages, physical obstructions, ulcers or tumors in the past
- Your pet's vaccination record (to rule out parvovirus)
- How severe the diarrhea or vomiting has been.
- Has it become worse since the vomiting or diarrhea first began?
Physical Examination of Your Pet & Samples
- Examination of the stool or vomit sample to see if blood is present
- Palpitation of the abdomen to check for abdominal obstruction or pain
- Heart function to look for symptoms of blood loss or dehydration
- Skin test to find out if your dog is dehydrated
- Biochemical tests to check for liver function and blood sugar
- Packed cell volume (hematocrit) to confirm whether hemorrhagic gastroenteritis could be the cause
Endoscopy & X-rays
- To look for intestinal blockages, ulcers, tumors, or physical obstructions
- Fecal exams help to detect parasites or microbiological organisms
What is the treatment for blood in dog's stool or vomit?
The treatment for your dog's symptoms will depend on the underlying cause, and your pet's overall health. With the right treatment most dogs respond very well and recover quickly. Treatment may include:
- Medications to soothe intestines
- Electrolyte and fluid therapies in the case of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis
- Antibiotic therapy if an infection is at the root of the problem
- Surgical remedies for tumors, ulcers or physical obstructions
- Corticosteroid therapy in cases of severe blood loss causing hypovolemic shock
- Anthelmintics (anti-parasitic drugs) to expel parasitic worms and other internal parasites
How can I help my dog to feel better?
Once your dog’s underlying issue is being treated, the main priority is allowing your pet's inflamed intestines the time they need to recover. Your vet will be sure to provide you with detailed instructions on how to care for your dog as they recover which may include,
- No food or water for 24 hours to allow your pet's intestines to rest
- Following the rest period, feeding a prescription or bland diet for a week or so before gradually returning your dog to their normal diet
- Monitoring your dog for other symptoms or recurring symptoms. If the problem quickly returns a prescription hypoallergenic medical diet may be recommended for your pet
- Restoring intestinal microflora by introducing food supplements (such as probiotics and probiotics) to help prevent the issue from recurring