As pet owners, we all want to make sure that our pets are happy and healthy. The problem is that there are sometimes health concerns that arise. It is always a good idea to keep a close eye on your dog so that you can recognize any physical issues or changes in their behavior. One of the biggest concerns that pet owners have is finding blood in the feces or vomit.
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Causes of Blood in the Feces
Blood in the stool is known as melena or hematochezia. If your dog has melena, the blood will typically cause the stool to look like a blackish tar substance. This typically happens when blood is digested and comes from the intestines. Typically, this is the more severe of the two. Hematochezia causes the stool to appear bright red in color, which usually means that it is fresh blood. This comes from lower in the intestines, typically around the rectum or colon.
There are many causes for blood in the stool. It may be as simple as a dietary change, or it may be something as serious as parvo or cancer. The problem is, you really never know if it is something really serious, or something that shouldn’t be of much concern. Let’s take a closer look at some of the common causes.
Parvo is a condition that affects puppies the most often. There are some breeds that are more prone to Parvovirus. These breeds include:
- German shepherds
If your dog has Parvovirus, they will likely have other symptoms that accompany the blood in their stool. They may vomit, have diarrhea, become lethargic, lose their appetite, or have blood in their stool.
Parasites are another common cause of blood in the stool, and are actually the most common. Hookworms, roundworms and whipworms are usually the culprits. Once you are able to identify the type of parasite, you can then treat it and the blood should go away.
Here are a few of the other common causes of blood in the stool that you may not have thought about:
- Dietary issues
- Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis
- Rectal injury
When blood is found in the vomit, it is known as hematemesis. It is a common ailment that affects dogs, and it can affect a lot of the different bodily systems. The primary symptom of hematemesis is finding blood in your dog’s vomit. It may appear in a variety of different forms. Sometimes, it may show up as fresh blood, while other times it may come out in clots.
If you notice the appearance of something that resembles coffee grounds it is usually digested blood. Other symptoms of hematemesis include abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and feces that is black like tar.
Causes of Blood in the Vomit
Just like many things can lead to blood in the feces, there are a variety of different causes of blood in the vomit. Typically, gastrointestinal diseases are the root of the problem. It may start out as inflamed bowels or inflammatory bowel disease, or it may be due to an ulcer. There are other, more rare causes, which may include metabolic infections, neurological issues, respiratory disorders and viral infections. Other conditions may include head trauma, liver failure and heartworms.
As you can see, some of these issues are really serious while others don’t bring about as much concern.
When Should You Go to the Vet?
One of the first questions pet owners ask when they first notice blood in the feces or vomit is when they should go to the vet. The problem is that with so many different possible causes of the blood, you never know when it may be something pretty serious. This is why it is so very important for you to get them in to see the veterinarian right away. They will be able to rule out serious underlying conditions and get down to the root cause of the blood. This is the best way to effectively be able to treat the condition.
When you take them in to the vet, you will want to not only let them know about the blood but also any other symptom that may accompany it. This will help them to give a more accurate diagnosis because they can see the full picture.
After all, we all know how some dogs tend to act fine when we get to the vet’s office, even if they had been on their death bed before you went in.
Treatment of Blood in the Feces or Vomit
Once your veterinarian is able to get to the root of the problem, they will then be able to treat the issue.
Since there are so many different causes, it is usually ideal to treat at the root of the problem. For instance, you don’t just want to cover up the symptoms, but rather get in there and fix the cause of the symptoms. Sometimes it is as easy as giving your dog some medication to clear up an issues, while other conditions may require more intensive treatments or surgeries.
This is something that is best discussed with your veterinarian.
When it comes to preventing blood in your dog’s feces or vomit, there are a few things that you can do. While you may not be able to prevent certain illnesses that may cause the blood, there are some things that you can do to prevent unrelated blood in the stool and vomit.
First of all, you need to make sure that you switch your dog’s food carefully. If you are making a switch from a basic nutrition diet to a premium blend, you will need to make sure that you do it gradually. If you switch them all of a sudden, it can really upset their stomach. This can lead to gastrointestinal issues. When you switch their food, it is recommended that you substitute only about a quarter of their existing food with the new food for the first few days, then substitute a half for a few days, and continue this pattern until you have them completely switched over.
This is what is recommended by most veterinarians because it is the safest way to switch their food.
Sometimes, gastrointestinal issues may arise due to the types of food that your dog is eating. If you have your dog on a regular diet and notice blood in the stool or vomit, it may be time to switch them to a hypoallergenic diet. With a hypoallergenic diet, you will be feeding your dog limited ingredients. This will allow them to be able to better digest their food without any complications.
Since stress is one of the main causes of these conditions, it seems that lowering your dog’s stress levels might also be an effective prevention technique. If your dog is under a lot of stress, it may be time to look into options for lowering their stress level to help prevent them from having as many gastrointestinal issues.
Another great prevention tip is to keep harmful plants out of the reach of your pets. There are some types of household plants that may lead to bloody stool or vomit. Here are a few of the plants that you will want to beware of:
- Aloe Vera
- Calla lily
- Castor bean
If you have any of these plants in and around your home, you will want to make sure that they are well out of the reach of your pets. While this isn’t a complete list of the plants that you need to keep away from your pets, these are the most common.
Blood in the feces or vomit can be quite traumatizing for both you and your dog. While it isn’t always an indicator of something terrible, it can be and it isn’t something that you will want to take lightly. When you pay close attention to your dog and their health, you will be better able to care for their needs and ensure that they are happy and healthy.
I've been a dog lover since the day I was born but it's the current four legged love of my life, Phoebe who inspired me to create the Munch.Zone.
We moved together from Israel to New York in 2013, love hiking together, and never pass up a trip to the dog park. Watching her over the years sparked so many questions about dog behavior and health needs, and it wasn't always easy to find answers. Thus, the Munch.Zone was born.
On any given day you'll find me watching Netflix originals, eating popcorn, and thinking about how to get into house flipping.