Caitlin UltimoHealth / Symptoms & Solutions

Why Is My Dog Pooping Blood?

It can be alarming to discover that your healthy, happy dog is suddenly pooping blood. There are many issues that could result in your dog pooping blood, and some are more serious than others.

Is Your Dog Pooping Blood?

While it might sound unpleasant to familiarize yourself with what your dog’s poop usually looks like, it’s an important key to recognizing a potential problem.

“Normal dog poop should have a light-brown to dark-brown appearance, formed but not too dried or hard,” says Dr. Karen Delfin Peacock, DVM, veterinarian at Animal Medical Clinic of Salt Lake City. But if you notice red streaks or extra-dark stools, your dog might have blood in its stool.

“You might see fresh blood on the outside of the stool or within diarrhea,” says Dr. Peacock. “The stool can also have a black, tarry appearance or look like coffee grounds if there is melena.”

What Causes Blood in Dog Stool?

Melena is the veterinary term for black, tarry stool, and typically indicates potential bleeding in a dog’s upper GI tract, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual. It differs from dog poop that appears with fresh, bright red blood, called hematochezia, which usually indicates lower GI bleeding.

Dr. Peacock says that the causes of blood in dog stool are numerous, but the most common reasons include:

  • Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, or inflammation of the lining of the stomach and small and large intestines
  • Peptic ulcers, which are erosions in the GI lining
  • Intestinal polyps, or masses of tissue that arise from the bowel wall
  • Cancer
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Foreign bodies that have been ingested
  • Drugs or toxins
  • Infections

She notes that there are different types of infections that result in a dog pooping blood, such as bacterial, viral (including parvo) or fungal.  And, there are several different types of parasites that can cause blood in dog stool, says Dr. Peacock.

What to Do if Your Dog Has Bloody Diarrhea

While you might want to try and help stop your dog’s bloody stools at home, Dr. Peacock advises against searching for remedies online that could harm your dog even further.

“There is a common remedy seen on the Internet about giving over-the-counter medicines like Pepto-Bismol,” she says. “I do not recommend this! There is a part of that medication that will change to the active chemical that is the same as aspirin. This can cause ulcers, and will also change the stools to appear black, so it will look like melena (even if it’s not).”

In general, avoid giving your dog any medication that is intended for humans.

The best thing you can do at home is to keep your dog well-hydrated, she says, and take these steps to prepare for a visit to the veterinarian:

  1. First, collect a sample of the bloody poop so you can bring it with you to your appointment. A fresh sample is best. Use dog poop bags and seal it for transport.
  2. If you’re not able to collect a sample, take pictures of the poop with your phone to show the veterinarian.
  3. Make a note of your dog’s living space. Look for items that your dog might have chewed or eaten, or human medications or drugs that are missing.
  4. Finally, investigate your yard, garage and even your neighbors’ yards for toxic substances that could potentially cause your dog harm.

How Is the Cause of Blood in Dog Stool Diagnosed?

Your veterinarian will begin with a physical exam to determine any obvious reasons for blood in your dog’s stool, then follow up with a few tests to give them clues and track down the cause of the blood.

“One test is a parasite exam with a stool sample, which is why it is important to bring a sample with you,” says Dr. Peacock.

There are also blood tests that analyze different types of blood cells, look for anemia and signs of infection, and check a dog’s platelets, which aid in clotting blood.

“Sometimes there are metabolic causes, so a chemistry panel will analyze liver and kidney functions, and check proteins and electrolytes,” she says.

More specialized tests might be required to narrow down the cause of your dog’s bloody stool, including an abdominal ultrasound, an endoscopy, a colonoscopy or special assays for specific diseases.

How Is Blood in Dog Stool Treated?

Treatments vary and are highly dependent on the results of your dog’s physical exam and laboratory tests.

“Treatments can range from oral medication to help with parasites or infections, to hospitalization,” says Dr. Peacock. “Other treatments might include fluids, probiotics, vitamin injections, pain medications for cramping, steroids, acid reducers, chemotherapy, or surgeries.”


By: Somyr Perry

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