Blood in Dog Stool: Should You Visit the Vet and What Can They Take?

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pup after using bathroom and toilet paper due to dog bloody diarrhea

As a responsible dog owner, you are well aware of what your dog’s poop looks like. If there is blood in dog stool, this is particularly concerning.

Whilst this is a potentially serious sign, blood can be present in poop for any number of reasons. Stay calm and think about the dog’s health generally.

Then check out the yard or other places the dog may toilet. Try to gauge how many bloody stools the dog has passed. This helps the vet work out how serious the problem is.

If you see blood in your dog’s stool, always contact a veterinarian. It’s just a matter of whether you do so as an emergency or whether it will wait a short while.

As a rule of thumb, if your dog is unwell, not eating, vomiting, or lacking in energy, then contact a vet immediately. Also, if the dog passes a large volume of blood, then the problem is urgent and emergency advice sought.

Is Your Dog Pooping Blood? Blood in Dog Stool

Blood in dog stool should never be ignored, but certain conditions are more worrying than others.

A good sign is if your dog is up-to-date with vaccinations, is otherwise well and playful, asking for food, and not vomiting. Even so, monitor the dog’s poop. Follow them outside when they go to toilet, so you can check on the color, volume, and frequency of their poop.

Sometimes the problem is a simple one, such as the dog ate a food too rich for their digestive tract. If this is the case, a loose bloody stool should start to firm within 24 – 48 hours.

But at the other end of the spectrum is the dog with potentially life-threatening parvovirus. These patients can deteriorate rapidly. If you are in any doubt or are concerned, always seek the advice of a veterinarian.

Blood in Dog Stool but Acting Normal? Should I be Worried?

A dog that is otherwise well but has a bloody stool, as stated above, should be monitored. Check that the dog is getting better rather than worse, and immediately seek advice if the latter happens.

It is wise to starve the dog for 12 – 24 hours, and then reintroduce a bland diet. This is gentle on the gut as it is easier to process.

Signs of deterioration include:

  • vomiting
  • lack of appetite
  • continued blood in dog stool
  • lack of energy
  • fever

Even if the dog is well, a dog pooping blood that isn’t improving after 24 hours must see a vet.

Keep Your Dog’s GI Tract Healthy with Vet’s Preferred!

A healthy gut is better placed to fight off infections and more resistant stress. To promote good GI tract health, feed a healthy balanced diet.

Older dogs and young puppies can also benefit from Vets Preferred Advanced Milk Rx supplement. This is easy to digest and doesn’t contain lactose (which can upset a dog’s stomach). It is also rich in immunoglobulins which support gut immune function.

If your dog has a mildly upset stomach or recently taken antibiotics (antibiotic-induced diarrhea) then some doggy probiotics can help. Canine probiotics help to repopulate the gut with bacteria that help digestion.

Blood in Dog’s Stool: There are Two Types of Dog Bloody Stools You Need to Know About

The digestive tract stretches from the stomach to the anus. Indeed, it is so long that the gut is often two-and-a-half times the length of the dog’s nose-to-tail length.

Where the blood in dog stool comes from influences what you see in the dog’s poop. For example, a bleed in the rectum (near the end) shows up as bright red blood. But a bleed in the stomach (at the beginning) has to pass through the rest of the gut. A clue to this is dark feces or tarry stools because it contains digested blood.

Technically this is referred to as hematochezia or melena. The location of the bleeding is important because it influences the investigation of the problem and then treatment.

Melena in Dogs

Melena refers to blood in dog stool that gives it an inky black color.

The blood comes from high up in the digestive tract and represents digested blood. It is digested as it passes along the gut, hence the dark color. Melena can be very subtle. Sometimes the vet needs to analyze a fecal sample in the lab to detect it.

Because the problem is towards the top end of the gut, melena is not associated with straining to pass feces. The stool is often formed, and diarrhea not present.

Typical causes of melena include stomach ulcers, gastritis (stomach inflammation), and cancer,

Hematochezia in Dogs

Hematochezia is notable as bright red blood or fresh-looking blood in dog stool. This may be blood on a formed stool or as part of bloody diarrhea.

The blood in dog stool comes from the lower part of the digestive tract and has only traveled a short distance. It is therefore fresh looking. Hematochezia is often associated with straining to pass feces and discomfort. This may change the dog’s habits, so that they toilet more often, have fecal accidents, or are restless as if uncomfortable.

Causes of hematochezia include colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, viral diarrheas, and cancer.

blood in dog stool but acting normal and sleeping

Dog Blood in Stool: What Causes Bloody Stool in Dogs

Blood in dog stool can come from active bleeding (such as in parvovirus infection), inflammation (such as food intolerance or inflammatory bowel disease) or physical trauma (such as hookworms or whipworms.)

As an owner, you can help the veterinarian make a diagnosis by taking a photo of the bloody stool. They can gain a lot of clues as to what’s happening, by seeing it for themselves.

Dog Blood in Stool Jelly Like? It Could be Colitis in Dogs

One common condition that causes blood and mucus in dog stool is colitis.

The term colitis is derived from ‘colon’, meaning the large intestine before the rectum; and ‘itis’, meaning inflammation. Colitis is especially common in aging dogs, but it can occur at any age.

This inflammatory condition, notable for blood and mucus in dog stool, happens for many different reasons including:

  • Food allergy
  • Food intolerance
  • Bacterial overgrowth in the gut
  • Stress
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Immune-mediated disease
  • Cancer (rarely)

The later parts of the gut as inflamed, which gives the dog a feeling of urgency to defecate. This often results in repeated straining. Also, when the colon is inflamed, it’s less efficient at reclaiming water from the gut. This results in watery stools or diarrhea containing blood.

The body’s response is to produce a layer of mucus to line the colon and protect it. It is this jelly-like substance that passes out as bloody-mucous covered stools.

Although an uncomfortable condition, colitis is not usually life-threatening. Neither does the dog lose weight. However, it is important to see a vet since colitis does need managing. Also, it’s essential that a more serious condition is not missed.

Bloody Diarrhea in Dogs: It’s Definitely a Concern!

One time when you should definitely pick up the phone and call the vet immediately is bloody diarrhea. This is because the combination of fluid loss (in liquid diarrhea) and blood, can quickly lead to dehydration. The latter puts the internal organs under strain and can lead to shock. Urgent correction is required.

Also, bloody diarrhea is often caused by some of the more serious viral diarrheas, such as parvovirus. These conditions, especially parvo, can cause a rapid decline in health and the urgent attention of a vet should be sought. Not to do so risks a slippery slope of dehydration, further bloody diarrhea, collapse, and organ failure.

Dog Bloody Diarrhea Causes!

Causes of bloody diarrhea include a range of infectious agents such as:

Always contact your vet as a matter of urgency, most especially if the dog is also vomiting.

Mucus in Dog Stool and Dog Bloody Diarrhea: How Does My Vet Know What Could be Wrong?

vet checking heart because of blood in dog's stool

The veterinarian looks at the bigger picture first. This involves finding out if the dog is vaccinated or not, what parasite treatment they have had, how long the dog has had a bloody stool or diarrhea, and any recent changes of diet.

Then the veterinarian undertakes a physical exam of the dog. This includes checking whether the gums are a healthy pink color or pale (indicating marked blood loss). They will also check if the dog is dehydrated and if they have a fever. The veterinarian feels or palpates the dog’s belly, to feel for any blockages that could cause blood in dog’s stool.

In some cases, the vet may be happy to trial treatment. For example, if the dog is pooping blood but otherwise well and the vet suspects colitis. However, if the veterinarian is concerned, they may suggest diagnostic tests.

Typically, if the patient is well but the bowel movement persistently bloody. the veterinarian may request a stool sample for analysis. This is looking for the presence of parasites (such as giardia or worms) or bacterial infections (such as salmonella or clostridia) which can cause blood in dog stool.

But if the dog is vomiting, losing weight, or the dog’s health generally below par, then blood samples are appropriate. Screening blood tests give valuable information about the dog’s general health and whether there is a problem outside of the gut.

In addition, these tests tell the veterinarian if the dog has lost a dangerous amount of blood and is anemic. It is also a good measure of dehydration, and whether intravenous fluid therapy is needed.

Sometimes, specific blood tests looking at bowel health are required. These look at vitamin levels within the bowel, the balance of digestive hormones, and is an imbalance of bacteria is present in the gut.

It may be necessary to scan the dog’s belly or take radiographs. This helps rule out foreign bodies in the gut or bowel cancer. In cases where a diagnosis is difficult then bowel biopsies may be needed. This can be done using an endoscope or during exploratory surgery.

Samples of gut wall are analyzed by a histologist to reach a definitive diagnosis.

5 Facts You Need to Know About Bloody Stool in Dogs

Ask yourself the following questions, as this gives the vet vital information for treatment.

  1. Fresh blood or digested blood? Examine your dog’s poop as this helps the vet understand where in the GI tract the blood has come from.
  2. How often does the dog poop? Watch your dog toileting. Straining or increased frequency of toileting is again a useful clue.
  3. How long has there been blood in dog stool? Did the problem come on suddenly or has it been present for a while?
  4. Diet change?: Have you changed the dog’s diet recently?
  5. Stress?:  Is the dog prone to anxiety and has anything stressful happened recently (such as fireworks or a new baby in the house)?

Treating Blood in Dog Poop

blood in dog stool but acting normal, sick dog not acting normal

Blood in dog poop is just a symptom. If the dog is sick, always see a vet. If the dog is well, watch them closely for deterioration.

In the first instance, take away food but make sure the dog has plenty of fresh water to drink. This is especially important if the dog has diarrhea as they will lose a lot of fluid.

Blood in Dog Stool Home Remedies: Why Home Remedies won’t Work!

Blood in dog stool can be down to a simple reason (such as dietary indiscretion) or more complex ones. Whereas the former should settle down simply by resting the gut, the latter won’t.

Home remedies may appear effective, but this is usually because the problem would resolve anyway. For those more complex or more serious conditions, home remedies can cause a delay in taking the dog to a veterinarian, which could be dangerous.

If Your Dog has Blood in Stool then don’t Wait! Take them to the Vet!

It is better by far to have a wasted trip to the vet, than to ignore a potentially serious problem. If you see blood in dog stool, don’t delay, get them seen by a vet.

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Vet Clinics in Chicago, IL

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Common Questions

What Causes Blood in Dog Stool?

Is Blood in Dog Stool an Emergency?

How to treat Blood in Dog Stool?


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