Blood in dog stools can be an alarming thing for any owner to see. Instead of letting your thoughts run in panicked circles of ‘my dog is pooping blood, what do I do!?’ – stay calm.
Calling your vet is the next step. Unless your dog is lethargic, appears to be having abdominal pain, or is refusing to drink or eat, you can usually afford to waste a small bit of time collecting a stool sample.
Bloody Stools Are a Symptom of Many Issues
As if your dog pooping blood wasn’t scary enough! Blood in puppy stool is just one of many signs for a variety of illnesses that may be affecting your pooch.
It is vital to collect a stool sample, and a short guide for how to do this is below; you’d be surprised how many people get it wrong!
Your vet will perform a physical examination on your dog and ask you a few questions about their recent diet and behavior.
Afterwards, they will take a sample of that bloody poop and perform a number of different tests on it.
Depending on a number of factors, the vet may diagnose the blood stools as a symptom of:
- Viral infection.
- Internal parasites.
- Upset stomach.
- Inflammation of the colon.
- Bacterial infection.
- Autoimmune disorder.
- Intestinal blockage.
A few of these can require a quick treatment if they are caught early, and aren’t life-threatening.
Unfortunately, the majority of these issues can become life-threatening rapidly and will need radical treatment in order to prevent death.
Read on to learn more about these health issues and what treatments are involved.
Causes for Blood in Dog Stool
Cancer is such a terrifying entity in this world, and it is heartbreaking when your pooch is the one to suffer from these mutant growths.
Cancerous growths in the digestive tract or urinary tract can cause bloody stools when the blood vessels around the tumors are stressed or stretched into bursting or tearing.
Blood darkens as it passes through the intestines, so the blood may not look bright red, but appear as tar-like mucus, dark red patches, or tiny, dark clumps – a little like coffee grounds.
Depending on the type of cancer and how far along it has progressed, there are a few different treatments for cancer in dogs.
Surgery is likely, and is usually paired with chemotherapy or radiation therapy to kill off any remaining cells.
Although cancer instinctively strikes dread and fear into the hearts of people, treatments and our understanding of cancer have made tremendous strides in the last decade. Cancer is not a death sentence if it is caught early on.
Parvovirus and Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis are two deadly viral disorders that affect canines, and a symptom of both is blood in your dog’s stools.
These can cause death, so immediate treatment is vital to prevent infecting other dogs, as well as to get your pooch back into good health.
Typically, bloody stools that are a symptom of viral infections are very loose with blood spread through diarrhea.
Dehydration is a big concern, and your vet will want to start a treatment of antibiotics, antivirals, and a saline drip post-haste.
Blood or mucus in your dog’s stools can mean parasites. These nasty creatures infect your dog and wreak havoc on their insides, and the three that can cause blood in stools are hookworms, whipworms, and giardia.
These parasites can cause changes in behavior due to lethargy, weight loss, anemia, and vomiting. In severe cases, all of these symptoms can eventually lead up to death.
Hookworms can even transfer to humans, so it is important to get worms treated straight away.
Thankfully, treatment for worms is quite straightforward. Your vet will prescribe medication to kill and flush the worms from your dog’s system, and will then tell you how to sterilize your home environment to prevent reinfection.
Dogs will eat just about anything they can fit into their mouths, even if it is bad for them. An upset stomach can cause a small amount of blood to appear on your dog’s stools.
Upset tummies are not all that uncommon when an animal’s diet changes, so if there is only a tiny amount of blood in the stool, there isn’t much cause for worry.
Bad food for dogs, out of date food, and even a change in dog food brand can cause an upset stomach. When you need to worry is if your pooch has had more than one bloody stool.
If your pooch has very loose stools and is lethargic, vomiting consistently, or experiencing a loss in appetite, it is more than an upset stomach; it’s time to head to the vet.
In bad cases of food poisoning, your dog may need to have its stomach pumped and receive a saline drip.
If you want to change your pooch’s food to a different brand, especially a higher quality one, it is key to slowly acclimate them to their new diet.
At first, mix in a small portion of the new food into their previous one. Over a period of two or so weeks, increase the amount of the new food in the mix until the old one is phased out.
Inflammation of the Colon
Inflammation of the colon, or colitis, is more often a symptom of one of the other issues in this list. However, bloody stools as a symptom of colitis can be caused by stress and inflammatory bowel disease.
The stools for colitis are often very loose, at times pure liquid, with bright red blood spread throughout. Bowel issues, too, often have a dog relieving itself frequently and in small amounts.
Aside from concerns for dehydration, colitis rarely causes death outside of young puppies or older dogs.
Depending on the cause of the colitis, and if the colitis is a symptom of something else, treatments will vary.
Typical treatment plans involve fasting, high-fiber diets for a period of time, and antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, or immunosuppressive drugs.
Bacterial infections, like clostridium and salmonella, often come from eating contaminated food.
Dehydration is the most serious concern when it comes to these two bacterial infections, and they rarely progress into life-threatening territory. Still, treatment should be sought out promptly.
Antibiotics are the most straightforward treatment for bacterial infections, as is the introduction of high-fiber foods to help the digestive tract find balance again.
Allergies can result in all sorts of problems, bloody stools being one of them.
Dogs can lose fur, develop welts and scaly patches that itch, and have blood in their stool in response to being exposed to or ingesting something they are allergic to.
In this case, your vet will help you work out what the allergy might be, so you can act accordingly. There are dozens of foods, plants, animals, and chemicals that dogs can be allergic to; some are even allergic to fleas!
Treatment may sometimes involve an oral medication or cream to soothe the irritated tissue. Generally, once the offending source of the allergy has been removed, symptoms fade on their own.
Autoimmune disorders occur when the antigens and antibodies in your dog’s system go haywire and start treating cells, organs, and tissues as a threat.
Bloody stools are a symptom usually relating to the digestive tract. Other symptoms vary from breed to breed, and rely on what particular part of the body is being attacked.
Some cases are severe enough that they require hospitalization and a strict treatment plan with immunosuppressants. Death is a possibility in these cases, and even with successful recovery, your dog will likely need to be on a treatment plan for life.
Intestinal blockages are a problem that needs an immediate solution. Bloody stools can be caused by the blockage damaging the intestinal or stomach walls, or braising the walls and preventing your dog from passing stools.
If the blockage is in the stomach or high in the intestines, gastric fluids and ingested food cannot move through the digestive system. This can cause irritation of the stomach and vomiting.
Blockages further down in the intestines have the same issues – only, the protective linings of the lower intestines and bowel can be damaged as well.
Treatment involves immediate surgery to remove the blockage.
How to Collect a Stool Sample
The consistency of the stool and blood is important for an accurate diagnosis.
Collecting a fresh sample may be a stinky job, but it is an important one – especially if your beloved pooch is showing more than one symptom, as discussed above!
If you don’t have a specimen jar handy, just grab a fresh Ziploc baggie – though be sure it’s clean and uncontaminated. Now, turn the baggie inside out and wear it like a glove.
Pick up a sample of the bloody stool – no more than a single teaspoon’s worth. If you have more than one dog and cannot say with absolute certainty that the stool you are sampling came from the ill pooch, grab multiple samples from different stools – all in their own baggies.
If your dog is not exhibiting signs that mean you are racing to the vet’s straight away, storing the sample(s) in the fridge is a good idea… just make sure it’s labeled.
Bloody dog poop can be a frightening thing to see! We all love our pups, and getting a sign that something may be wrong with their health is never a pleasant thing to experience.
Bloody poop can be a symptom of many issues, some harmless, and others far more serious. It’s important to stay calm and act fast!
Do you have any tips for handling blood in dog stool?