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Causes of Bloody Diarrhea in Dogs

Seeing a drop or two of blood in your dog’s stool may be frightening. Find out what may be causing this and if your dog should seek veterinary treatment.


A bout of diarrhea sounds troublesome enough, but what should puppy and dog owners do if there are also drops of blood accompanying the messy output? There are various causes of blood in the stools in dogs, and some may be quite serious.

For this reason, it is best to have your dog seen by a veterinarian upon noticing bloody diarrhea; this helps to rule out potentially serious problems while allowing the opportunity to find the most appropriate treatment.

Causes of Bloody Diarrhea in Dogs and Puppies

By simply looking at the messy stools owners can pinpoint important information. For instance, if the blood is bright red, this indicates the blood is fresh and therefore, is coming from the lower intestinal tract. Suspect indeed bleeding from the large intestines or the rectum.

On the other hand, if the blood appears black this suggests the blood has been digested. This blood is harder to spot: diarrhea will typically appear tarry and dark, an indication of bleeding from the upper part of the digestive tract, according to Vetinfo.com.


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Causes of Red Bloody Diarrhea

Fresh red blood is medically known as ‘hematochezia‘ and the causes may vary from minor to serious. Just one single episode of bloody diarrhea is generally a minor and transient occurrence, whereas repeated bouts of bloody diarrhea are more serious and should not be ignored.

It important to consider that regardless of the presence of blood, diarrhea in itself can quickly dehydrate young puppies and dogs especially when severe.

Intestinal parasites are common causes of bloody diarrhea such as the presence of roundworms or hookworms. Protozoans such as coccidia are another culprit. For this reason, should your puppy or dog develop bloody diarrhea, it is a good idea to collect a fresh fecal sample so to rule out or confirm some of these parasites.

Other causes may be abrupt dietary changes, benign polyps of the rectum and trauma to the lower bowel and rectum as when passing a sharp piece of ingested sticks or bones. A serious cause of bloody diarrhea often seen in puppies is Parvo, a serious disease caused by a virus causing vomiting, bloody diarrhea, loss of appetite and even death, in severe cases.

Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, as the name implies, can cause vomiting and bloody diarrhea in affected puppies and dogs. Some dogs may also suffer from bleeding disorders due to clotting disorders or the ingestion of rodenticide poisons. These are just a few of many possibilities.

Causes of Bloody Diarrhea in Dogs and Puppies
Causes of Bloody Diarrhea in Dogs and Puppies

Causes of Dark Tarry Diarrhea

The presence of digested blood in the feces is medically known as ‘melena‘. This symptom should never be underestimated as it often indicates bleeding in the upper digestive tract. Common causes are tumors of the upper digestive tract, the presence of foreign objects stuck in the stomach, coagulopathies or gastrointestinal diseases such as ulcers and gastroenteritis.

The ingestion of certain medications may also contribute to dark, bloody diarrhea. Pepto Bismol, for instance, may cause discolored stools and so may aspirin upon causing ulcers and therefore bleeding from the upper digestive tract.

The ingestion of blood such as following an injury or from a nosebleed may also cause melena in dogs. These are just a few examples of common causes of dark, tarry diarrhea in dogs.

Regardless of the type of bloody diarrhea, it is always best to have the dog seen by a veterinarian for peace of mind. A watchful eye on the dog’s gums may indicate if the dog is losing too much blood. While normally a dog’s gum is of a healthy bubblegum pink, pale gums that appear whitish, grayish or a pale pink may suggest the dog is starting to become anemic.


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