We all know that blood doesn't belong in our dog's poop which can lead to a scary situation if it happens. But knowing what to look for and what steps to take can help ease what is otherwise a stressful situation. Here, our Nashua vets discuss what it means when you find blood in your dog's stool and when it might be considered an emergency.
Help! There's Blood in my Dog's Stool!
If you spot blood in your dog's stool, there can be a number of reasons. From a parasitic infection to internal trauma. It helps to know the signs of the different types of bleeding so you can be prepared to take the appropriate next steps in seeking treatment.
While taking note of all the different aspects of the bloody poop and describing everything to your vet is helpful, it may be simpler and easier if you can take a photo of the poop to show them.
No matter what color or type of stool your dog is experiencing the first step should always be to contact your vet. No matter the underlying cause, blood in your dog's poop is a sign that there is an underlying issue that needs to be treated.
If you are unable to take a photo and plan on describing the poop to your vet then it will be helpful to know the two types of blood that you may find. These are hematochezia and melena.
Hematochezia: This type of blood is bright red and occurs in the lower digestive tract or colon.
Melena: This blood is dark, sticky and sometimes jelly-like. This is blood that has been digested or swallowed, indicating a problem in the upper digestive tract. You can check for this blood by wiping the poop with a clean piece of paper towel and looking for blood on the paper towel.
Why is there blood in my dog's poop?
The answer to this depends on where the blood is originating from which can usually be determined by the color. Here we go into more detail about each type:
Bright, Red Bloody Stools
This is known as hematochezia. While this type of bloody poop can look very concerning, it may sometimes be caused by a non-serious issue. If you've only just this one time noticed a streak of blood in your dog's poop then you may not have anything pressing to worry about. Even so, you should still contact your vet to schedule an examination. If you are consistently noticing bright red blood in your dog's poop then it may indicate a more serious concern.
Some of the most common reasons behind blood in your dog's poop can include:
- Colitis (inflammation of the colon)
- Parasites, such as hookworms
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Anal sac infections or impactions
Some of the more serious causes of hematochezia in your dog's stool include:
- Viral and bacterial infections
- Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis
If you see blood in your dog's stool and bring them in for an examination your vet will perform a number of diagnostic tests on your dog such as a fecal exam to help pinpoint the cause of the bleeding.
In the case that your dog is unvaccinated and you are concerned that they may have been exposed to canine parvovirus we ask that you let us know when booking your dog in so we can help plan to minimize the potential exposure to other dogs.
Dark, Tarry Stools
This type is commonly called Melena. Melena in the stool can be quite difficult to spot as it takes on a dark appearance similar to the normal color of your dog's stool. This is because the melena is dark and tarry and can blend in with the stool. Because of this, it is a good idea to gain a good idea of what your dog's poop looks like normally so you can more easily spot any changes.
Some of the typical causes of melena in dogs are:
- Inflammatory disorders
- Foreign bodies and trauma
- Kidney failure
- Exposure to toxins
- Addison’s disease
- Liver disease
- Hormonal imbalances
- Clotting disorders
- Reaction to certain medications, such as anti-inflammatory medications
Many of the conditions listed above also have other common symptoms. Some of the other symptoms to watch for may include:
- Change in appetite
- Reduced activity levels
- Behavioral changes
- Blood in the urine
- Difficulty breathing
Is there too much blood in my dog's stool?
Typically a slight appearance of blood in your dog's poop may not indicate a serious condition but you should still reach out to your vet to have them examined.
However, If there are large amounts of blood in your dog's poop or they are suffering from bloody diarrhea, vomit or lethargy, you should take them to the nearest emergency vet right away.
How often is it too often to see blood?
A sudden appearance of a small amount of blood a single time usually won't indicate a more serious situation at hand but your vet should always be informed when you see anything usual.
You should contact your vet right away if there is frequent blood in your dog's poop or if your dog shows serious signs of being sick, such as lethargy, vomiting, or diarrhea.
It can help with the diagnosis if you can also bring a sample or photo or your dog's bloody poop.
When is blood in a dog's stool an emergency?
Along with large amounts of blood there are other symptoms that can indicate a serious situation. If you note any of the following signs you should bring your dog to the nearest emergency vet clinic right away:
- Profuse bleeding from the anus
- Extreme lethargy
- Collapse or loss of consciousness
- Pale or white gums
- Possible toxin exposure
- Vomiting blood or a dark substance that looks like coffee grounds (digested blood)
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.