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Why is there blood in my dog's stool?

Our Fort Worth vets understand that it can be alarming to see blood in your dog's poop. There are a number of reasons why bloody stool in dogs can occur. Today, we share some of the causes and when to head to your vet's office.

How can I tell if it's actually blood?

If your dog's stool contains streaks of fresh blood, it could be from the upper part of the small intestine or the stomach. If the blood has partially digested, it will look like coffee grounds and could have originated in your dog's intestines. Other symptoms to watch for include loss of appetite, unusual stools like diarrhea, and fatigue.

If the blood is fresh, it may be from your pet's colon; however, if it is dark, tarry, or sticky, it is most likely from your dog's stomach or upper intestinal tract.

What could be causing blood in my dog’s stool?

If you’ve spotted blood in your dog’s stool, you’re bound to be concerned - what could be the cause? Should you head to an emergency vet?

Some of the most common causes of bloody or diarrhea in dogs include:

  • Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) (severe bloody diarrhea caused by infectious agents)
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Viral or bacterial infection
  • Trauma to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract from eating bones or other materials.
  • Foreign body ingestion (toys, rocks, fabric, etc)
  • Parasites
  • Sudden dietary changes that cause irritation or impact the immune system
  • Stomach or esophagus tumors
  • Poisoning from toxins such as plants

Other symptoms of your dog's diarrhea include weight loss, fluid loss, dehydration, lethargy, electrolyte imbalances, hypovolemic shock, and hemoconcentration.

My dog is pooping blood, what should I do?

If you notice blood in your dog's stool, it is important to consult with a veterinarian immediately, especially if it is accompanied by other symptoms like vomiting, lethargy, or loss of appetite. Blood in a dog's stool should never be ignored and prompt medical attention is necessary to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment. If this happens after your vet's regular hours, you should bring your dog to see an emergency vet.

What will the vet do if I bring my dog in?

The underlying cause of your dog's bloody diarrhea can be difficult to determine. If routine diagnostic procedures fail to pinpoint the cause, more invasive diagnostic testing may be required to diagnose the problem.

When you take your dog to your veterinarian or the emergency vet due to bloody diarrhea this is what you can expect:

Take a Medical History

Your dog's veterinarian will ask for a complete medical history from you. The more information you can give the vet, the better. Important details in your dog's medical history can include:

  • Whether they’ve had intestinal blockages, physical obstructions, ulcers, or tumors in the past
  • Your dog's vaccination record (to rule out parvovirus)
  • How severe has your pup's diarrhea been? Has it progressed since it began?

Physical examination

  • If you have brought a sample, your vet will do a visual observation of the stool or
  • Palpitation of the abdomen to check for signs of an abdominal obstruction or pain
  • Check cardiovascular function to look for signs of blood loss or dehydration
  • Dog skin test to find out if your dog is dehydrated
  • Examination of your dog's mucus membranes to look for hemorrhagic losses

Will the vet run tests?

Depending on the results of the basic examination, your veterinarian may recommend additional diagnostic testing. To determine the cause of bloody diarrhea, more advanced diagnostics are used, which may include the following:

Routine biochemical/blood tests

  • Biochemical tests (e.g. liver, blood sugar)
  • Packed cell volume (hematocrit) data to confirm whether hemorrhagic gastroenteritis is the cause


  • To find any potential intestinal blockages, ulcers, tumors, or physical obstructions

Fecal Exam

  • Microscopic examination of your dog's stool to look for parasites or microbiological organisms

What is the treatment for bloody diarrhea in dogs?

The course of treatment prescribed for your pooch will depend on the underlying cause of your pup's bloody stool, but may include:

  • Medications to soothe intestines
  • Electrolyte and fluid therapies for hemorrhagic gastroenteritis
  • Antibiotic therapy for certain types of infections
  • Corticosteroid therapy for cases of hypovolemic shock
  • Anthelmintics for parasitic infections
  • Surgical remedies for tumors, ulcers, or physical obstructions

Will my dog be ok?

Most dogs respond well to appropriate treatment and recover quickly. After your dog's underlying problem has been addressed, the primary focus should be on healing time, as the inflamed intestines will take time to recover. In some cases, a modified diet can help to treat gastrointestinal problems and infections.

Your veterinarian may recommend that you withhold food and/or water for 24 hours to allow your dog's intestine to rest. Following the 24-hour rest period, your dog should eat a bland diet for 3 to 7 days before gradually returning to his normal diet.

It is critical to monitor your dog's progress as he recovers because certain proteins or other elements may cause the problem to return. In these cases, your dog may require a special hypoallergenic medical diet.

Is there a way to prevent bloody stools from recurring?

After an infection, some veterinarians recommend restoring intestinal microflora by incorporating food additives (such as probiotics) to improve gut function and prevent infection from recurring.

If you feed your dog a homemade diet, the formula should prioritize optimal nutrient profiles and energy density based on the situation. These diets can be low in fat and high in easily digestible nutrients. Consult your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog's diet, especially if he has a history of bloody diarrhea.

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.

Have you noticed blood in your dog's stool? Contact our Fort Worth vets to find out how to make an appointment for your pooch.

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