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Is blood in my dog's stool an emergency?

Is blood in my dog's stool an emergency?

Spotting blood in your dog’s stool is sure to be a cause for concern for pet parents. Today, our Thousand Oaks vets discuss some possible causes of blood in your dog's stool, when it's an emergency, and what you should do.

Why would a dog be pooping blood?

You should contact your veterinarian as soon as you discover any type of blood in your dog's poop. Knowing the type of blood in your dog's stool or vomit will enable your veterinarian to identify its source and, in turn, contribute to the diagnosis of your dog's condition.

Non-Blood Substances

  • 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 an analytical look at your dog's stool, and be prepared to provide your vet with a detailed description and samples if requested.

Hematochezia in Dog's Stool

  • If the blood in your pet's stool is bright red, then it's hematochezia. Typically, hematochezia originates from bleeding in the lower digestive tract, rectum, or colon. Bleeding in this area will encourage 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 the pet's diet, rectal injury, or colitis.

Melena in Dog's Stool

  • If the blood in your dog's stool is dark, sticky, and tar-like then it's Melena, which is the blood that has either been swallowed or digested. This condition 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 Stools in Dogs

  • Some other causes of bloody stool include intestinal blockages, trauma, bacterial infections, or fissures.

What to Do if You See Blood in Your Dog's Stool

No matter what kind of blood you notice in your dog's stools or vomit, you should call your veterinarian or the nearest emergency vet right away. Bloody vomiting or diarrhea may be a veterinary emergency requiring urgent attention. It's always a good idea to err on the side of caution because some conditions that can cause blood in stool or vomit can be fatal if untreated.

At VSEC, our emergency veterinary team treats animals in circumstances requiring urgent medical care, including life-threatening emergencies.

Diagnosing Bloody Stool in Dogs

Diagnosing the underlying cause of bloody stool in dogs can be challenging. If routine diagnostic procedures are unsuccessful, more invasive procedures may be needed to diagnose the issue. The diagnostic procedures performed may include the following:

A Detailed Medical History

The more detailed information you can provide to the 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 symptoms have been.
  • Has it become worse?

Physical Wellness & Sample Examination

  • Examination of the stool sample to confirm 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

Blood tests

  • Biochemical tests checking liver function and blood sugar
  • Packed cell volume (hematocrit) to confirm whether hemorrhagic gastroenteritis could be the cause

Endoscopy & X-rays

  • To search for intestinal blockages, ulcers, tumors, or physical obstructions

Fecal

  • Fecal exams help to detect parasites or microbiological organisms

Treating Blood In A Dog's Stool

The underlying cause and your dog's general physical health will determine the best course of treatment for bloody stool in dogs. Most dogs respond extremely well and recover quickly with the proper care. Treatment options include:

  • Medications for soothing 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 (antiparasitic drugs) to expel parasitic worms and other internal parasites

Helping Your Dog Feel Better

The main focus after addressing the underlying problem in your pet is giving the inflamed intestines time to heal. Your veterinarian will make sure to give you comprehensive instructions on how to care for your dog while they are recovering, 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
  • Monitoring 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

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.

Is your dog experiencing blood in their stool? Contact our Thousand Oaks vets to have your pup diagnosed and cared for.

New Patients Welcome

VSEC Thousand Oaks is accepting new patients! Our board-certified specialists and experienced emergency veterinarians are passionate about restoring good health to animal companions.

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