Our Los Angeles vets understand that it can be alarming to see blood in your dog's stool. There are a number of reasons why bloody stool in dogs can occur. 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 is streaked with fresh blood, it could be from the upper part of the small intestine or from the stomach. If the blood has been partially digested, it will resemble coffee grounds and may have originated in your dog's intestines. Other symptoms to look out for include a loss of appetite, unusual stools such as diarrhea, and fatigue.
If the blood is fresh it may be from your pet's colon, but if it’s dark, tarry, or sticky, it's likely from your pup's stomach or upper intestinal tract.
What could be causing blood in my dog’s stool?
If you’ve spotted blood in your dog’s stool, you’re bound to be concerned - what could be the cause? Should you head to an emergency vet?
Some of the most common causes of bloody or diarrhea in dogs include:
- Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) (severe bloody diarrhea and bloody ing, 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)
- Severe ing
- Sudden dietary changes that cause irritation or impact the immune system
- Stomach or esophagus tumors
- Poisoning from toxins such as plants
Weight loss, fluid loss, dehydration, lethargy, electrolyte imbalances, hypovolemic shock, and hemoconcentration are other symptoms that may appear if your dog is experiencing continuous ing or diarrhea.
There's blood in my dog's stool, what should I do?
Regardless of the cause, bloody diarrhea or ing is an emergency that could potentially be fatal if left untreated, so immediate veterinary care is called for.
At Rancho Park Veterinary Clinic, our board-certified internal medicine vets are here to offer advanced care for pets with internal health conditions.
Our Los Angeles team of emergency vets treats animals in circumstances requiring urgent medical care, including life-threatening emergencies.
What will the vet do if I bring my dog in?
The underlying cause of your dog's bloody diarrhea can be difficult to determine. If routine diagnostic procedures fail to pinpoint the cause, more invasive diagnostic testing may be required to diagnose the problem.
When you take your dog to your veterinarian or the emergency vet due to bloody diarrhea this is what you can expect:
Taking Medical History
Your dog's veterinarian will request a complete medical history from you. The more information you can provide the veterinarian, the better. Important details 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?
- 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?
More diagnostic testing may be required following the basic examination, depending on your veterinarian's findings. To determine the cause of bloody diarrhea, more advanced diagnostics are used, which may include some of the following:
Routine biochemical/blood tests
- Biochemical tests (e.g. liver, blood sugar)
- Packed cell volume (hematocrit) data to confirm whether hemorrhagic gastroenteritis is the cause
- To find any potential intestinal blockages, ulcers, tumors, or physical obstructions
- Microscopic examination of your dog's stool to look for parasites or microbiological organisms
What is the treatment for bloody diarrhea or ing in dogs?
The course of treatment prescribed for your pooch will depend on the underlying cause of your pup's bloody stool, but may include:
- 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 respond very well to proper treatment and recover quickly. After your dog's underlying issue has been addressed, the main priority should be healing time, as the inflamed intestines will require time to recover. A modified diet can help reduce gastrointestinal disorders and intestinal infections in some cases.
Your vet may recommend withholding food and/or water for 24 hours to give your dog's intestine a chance to rest. A bland diet for 3 to 7 days following the 24-hour rest period, then a gradual return to your dog’s normal diet, should help.
It's important to stay vigilant as your dog recovers since certain proteins or other elements may result in the problem recurring. In these cases, your dog may need a specialized hypoallergenic medical diet.
Is there a way to prevent bloody stools from recurring?
After infections, some vets recommend restoring intestinal microflora by introducing food additives (such as synbiotics, probiotics, and probiotics) to improve gut function and prevent infection from coming back.
If you feed your dog a homemade diet, the formula should emphasize optimal nutrient profiles as well as energy density, depending on the issue at hand. These diets can be lower in fat and higher in highly digestible nutrients. Consult your veterinarian before making any dietary changes, especially if your dog 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.