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Why is my dog pooping blood?

Our Tucson vets understand that it can be alarming to see blood in your dog's poop. There are a number of reasons why there's blood in a dog's stool. Today, we share some of the causes and when to head to your vet's office.

How can I tell if it's actually blood?

If your dog's stool contains streaks of fresh blood, it could originate from the upper part of the small intestine or the stomach. If the blood has partially digested, it will look like coffee grounds and could have originated in your dog's intestines. Other symptoms to watch for include loss of appetite, unusual stools like diarrhea, and fatigue.

Fresh blood could also begin from your pet's colon, but if it's dark, tarry, or sticky, it's probably from your dog's stomach or upper intestinal tract.

What could be causing blood in my dog’s poop?

Some of the most common causes of bloody or diarrhea in dogs include:

  • Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) (severe bloody diarrhea, caused by infectious agents)
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Viral or bacterial infection
  • Trauma to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract from eating bones or other materials.
  • Foreign body ingestion (toys, rocks, fabric, etc)
  • Parasites
  • Sudden dietary changes that cause irritation or impact the immune system
  • Stomach or esophagus tumors
  • Poisoning from toxins such as plants

Other symptoms of your dog's diarrhea include weight loss, fluid loss, dehydration, lethargy, electrolyte imbalances, hypovolemic shock, and hemoconcentration.

When should I bring my dog to the vet?

Regardless of the cause, bloody diarrhea signals an emergency that could, potentially, be fatal if left untreated, so immediate veterinary care is called for.

What will the vet do if I bring my dog in?

Pinpointing the underlying cause of your dog's bloody diarrhea can prove difficult. If routine diagnostic procedures fail to identify the source, more invasive diagnostic can determine the problem.

When you take your dog to your veterinarian or the emergency vet due to bloody diarrhea, you can expect the following:

Taking a Medical History

Your dog's veterinarian will request a full medical history from you. The more information you can provide the veterinarian, the better. Important information in your dog's medical history may include:

  • Whether they’ve had intestinal blockages, physical obstructions, ulcers, or tumors in the past
  • Your dog's vaccination record (to rule out parvovirus)
  • How severe has your pup's diarrhea been? Has it progressed since it began?

Physical examination

  • If you have brought a sample, your vet will do a visual observation of the stool or
  • Palpitation of the abdomen to check for signs of an abdominal obstruction or pain
  • Check cardiovascular function to look for signs of blood loss or dehydration
  • Dog skin test to find out if your dog is dehydrated
  • Examination of your dog's mucus membranes to look for hemorrhagic losses

Will the vet run tests?

Depending on the results of the basic examination, your veterinarian may recommend further diagnostic testing. More advanced diagnostics, such as the following, can pinpoint the cause of bloody diarrhea.

Routine biochemical/blood tests

  • Biochemical tests (e.g. liver, blood sugar)
  • Packed cell volume (hematocrit) data to confirm whether hemorrhagic gastroenteritis is the cause

Endoscopy or Radiographs

  • To find any potential intestinal blockages, ulcers, tumors, or physical obstructions

Fecal Exam

What is the treatment for bloody diarrhea in dogs?

Depending on the underlying reason for your dog's bloody stools, we may suggest the following of the course of treatment:

  • Medications to soothe intestines
  • Electrolyte and fluid therapies for hemorrhagic gastroenteritis
  • Antibiotic therapy for certain types of infections
  • Corticosteroid therapy for cases of hypovolemic shock
  • Anthelmintics for parasitic infections
  • Surgical remedies for tumors, ulcers, or physical obstructions

Will my dog be ok?

Most dogs react positively to appropriate treatment and recover quickly. After addressing your dog's underlying issue, the primary will shift healing time. The inflamed intestines will require time to recover. A modified diet can sometimes help treat gastrointestinal problems and infections too.

Your veterinarian may advise you to withhold food and/or water for 24 hours to allow your dog's intestines to rest. Following the 24-hour rest period, your dog should eat a bland diet for 3 to 7 days before gradually transitioning back to his regular diet.

You should monitor your dog's progress during his recovery, because certain proteins or other elements may cause the problem to reoccur. In these cases, your dog may need a special hypoallergenic medical diet.

Is there a way to prevent bloody stools from recurring?

Following an infection, some veterinarians advise restoring intestinal microflora with food additives (such as synbiotics and probiotics) to improve gut function and prevent infection from recurring.

If you feed your dog a homemade diet, the formula should prioritize optimal nutrient profiles and energy density, depending on the issue at hand. These diets can be low in fat but high in easily digestible nutrients. Consult your veterinarian before making any dietary changes for your dog, especially if he has a history of bloody diarrhea.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Have you noticed blood in your dog's stool? Contact our Tucson vets to find out how to make an appointment for your pooch.

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