Spotting blood in your dog’s stool is bound to cause both concern and alarm. Today, our vets in Edgewater share some of the causes, symptoms, and treatments for bloody diarrhea in dogs.
Why does my dog have blood in their poop?Noticing any type of blood in your dog's stool merits a call to your veterinarian. Being able to describe and identify the type of blood in your dog's stool can help your veterinarian to determine the source of the blood, and why your dog is pooping blood and will ultimately play a role in diagnosing your dog's condition.
Not Actually Blood
- First, it's important to determine whether what you see is actually blood, since ingesting red foods, Pepto-Bismol, or red items such as lipstick or crayon can cause your dog's stool to appear as if it is blood-streaked. Take a really analytical look at your dog's stool, and be prepared to provide your vet with a detailed description.
Hematochezia in Dog's Stool
If the blood in your pet's stool is bright red, then it's Hematochezia. Typically, hematochezia stems from bleeding in the lower digestive tract, rectum, or colon. Bleeding in this area will point your vet to investigate a particular set of conditions such as parvovirus, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, cancer, viral and bacterial infections, parasites, digestion of something inappropriate, sudden change in pet's diet, rectal injury, or colitis.
Melena in Dog's Stool
- If the blood in your dog's stool is darker, sticky, and tar-like then it's Melena. Melena is the blood that has either been swallowed or digested which points to issues in your pet's upper digestive tract, esophagus, stomach, or upper small intestines such as parasites, and liver cancer. Other common causes of melena in stool include ulcers caused by medications, blood clotting disorders, post-surgery complications, tumors, polyps, or ingestion of blood (licking a bleeding wound, a mouth injury, or a bloody nose).
Other Causes of Bloody Stool in Dogs
- Some other causes of blood in your dog's stool include intestinal blockages, trauma, bacterial infections, or fissures.
What should I do if I see blood in my dog’s stool?
Regardless of the type of blood you see in your dog's stool it is important to contact your vet, or your nearest emergency vet right away. Bloody diarrhea can be a veterinary emergency requiring immediate care. Some causes of blood in stool are potentially fatal if left untreated, so it's always wise to err on the side of caution.
How is bloody stool in dogs diagnosed?
Diagnosing the underlying cause of bloody diarrhea can be challenging. If routine diagnostic procedures are unsuccessful, more invasive procedures may be needed to diagnose the issue. The diagnostic procedure may include the following:
A Detailed Medical History
The more detailed information you can provide to your vet, the better. Some of the valuable information in your dog’s medical history may include:
- Whether your dog has experienced intestinal blockages, physical obstructions, ulcers, or tumors in the past
- Your pet's vaccination record (to rule out parvovirus)
- How severe diarrhea has been.
- Has it become worse since diarrhea first began?
Physical Examination of Your Pet & Samples
- Examination of the stool sample to see if blood is present
- Palpitation of the abdomen to check for abdominal obstruction or pain
- Heart function to look for symptoms of blood loss or dehydration
- Skin test to find out if your dog is dehydrated
- Biochemical tests to check for liver function and blood sugar
- Packed cell volume (hematocrit) to confirm whether hemorrhagic gastroenteritis could be the cause
Endoscopy & X-rays
- To look for intestinal blockages, ulcers, tumors, or physical obstructions
- Fecal exams help to detect parasites or microbiological organisms
What is the treatment for blood in a dog's stool?
The treatment for your dog's symptoms will depend on the underlying cause and your pet's overall health. With the right treatment, most dogs respond very well and recover quickly. Treatment may include:
- Medications to soothe intestines
- Electrolyte and fluid therapies in the case of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis
- Antibiotic therapy if an infection is at the root of the problem
- Surgical remedies for tumors, ulcers, or physical obstructions
- Corticosteroid therapy in cases of severe blood loss causing hypovolemic shock
- Anthelmintics (anti-parasitic drugs) to expel parasitic worms and other internal parasites
How can I help my dog feel better?
Once your dog’s underlying issue is being treated, the main priority is allowing your pet's inflamed intestines the time they need to recover. Your vet will be sure to provide you with detailed instructions on how to care for your dog as they recover which may include,
- No food or water for 24 hours to allow your pet's intestines to rest
- Following the rest period, feed a prescription or bland diet for a week or so before gradually returning your dog to their normal diet
- Monitor your dog for other symptoms or recurring symptoms. If the problem quickly returns a prescription hypoallergenic medical diet may be recommended for your pet
- Restoring intestinal microflora by introducing food supplements (such as probiotics and probiotics) to help prevent the issue from recurring