Blood in your dog's poop could mean a few different things.
Advertisement
dachshund on grass looking up at camera
Credit: Rebecca D'Angelo / Getty

Imagine picking up your dog's poop and finding blood in it. You're likely to start worrying and wondering if your beloved pupper is in pain. If your dog is suddenly pooping blood, you definitely need to talk to your vet. However, it's not always an emergency situation. As icky as it may seem, take a closer look at the blood in your dog's poop to figure out what to do next.

Reasons Why Your Dog Is Pooping Blood

Blood can show up in dog poop with or without diarrhea. Some dogs seem perfectly fine other than blood in normal poop. Other dogs will have signs like diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, and weight loss. It all depends on underlying the cause of the bloody poop.

The presence of blood in dog poop means that there is bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract. There are two kinds of bloody stool: hematochezia and melena. The appearance of the stool indicates the source of the blood. Melena is often more serious than hematochezia, but both typically call for veterinary intervention.

Hematochezia

Hematochezia is the passage of bright red blood (with or without stool). This means there's bleeding in the lower digestive tract, or large bowel, which includes the cecum, colon, rectum, and anus. You may see streaks or spots of red blood in diarrhea or normal stool. Or, you may notice the dog pooping straight blood. 

Diarrhea along with red blood is a common sign of colitis in dogs, which has a number of causes, including intestinal parasites, inflammatory bowel disease, infections, food allergies, stress or anxiety, and more.

Other common causes of red blood in dog poop include:

Diarrhea itself can lead to large bowel bleeding due to irritation in the lower GI tract.

If you notice spots of blood on your dog's bedding, it warrants further investigation. While the blood might be related to the GI tract, it actually could be be coming from the urine or an injury on your dog. In any event, call your veterinarian for advice.

Melena

Melena is black, tarry stool that is usually sticky or jelly-like. The blood appears black because it's been digested. This points to bleeding in the upper digestive tract, which consists of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, liver, and pancreas.

Common causes of melena include:

  • Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis
  • GI ulcers
  • Cancer
  • Tumors
  • Bleeding or clotting disorders
  • Trauma to the upper GI tract

Melena can also occur from swallowing blood; this may happen if your dog has oral bleeding caused by an injury or periodontal disease.

Note that some healthy dogs will have very dark feces that's not actually melena. If the stool is formed and has a normal consistency, it's probably normal. You can take a closer look by wiping a small amount of the stool on a white paper towel—melena will have a dark red tone. Dogs given drugs that contain bismuth (like Pepto-Bismol) may pass dark-colored poop, but that's just a harmless side effect and not actually digested blood.

If you're unsure whether or not there's blood in your dog's poop, collect a sample and contact your veterinarian for advice.

Determining If Bloody Diarrhea Is an Emergency and Getting a Diagnosis

If your dog's poop is a normal consistency, but you see a small amount of blood just once, then make a mental note and watch your dog closely. Contact your veterinarian if the blood continues or if your dog shows signs of being sick, like lethargy, vomiting, or diarrhea.

If you are regularly or frequently seeing blood in your dog's stool—whether it's red or black—it's important to contact your veterinarian. This applies even if your dog seems normal and healthy. It's also a good idea to get a small sample of your dog's poop to bring to the vet.

Certain circumstances constitute an emergency. Bring your dog to the nearest open veterinary facility if you notice any of the following:

  • Profuse bleeding from the anus
  • Extreme lethargy
  • Collapse or loss of consciousness
  • Pale or white gums
  • Possible toxin exposure
  • Vomiting blood or a dark substance that looks like coffee grounds (digested blood)

Your vet will begin by discussing your dog's history and performing a physical examination. Next, the vet will run diagnostic tests to determine the cause of the bleeding. This usually begins by analyzing the dog's stool for parasites and other abnormalities. Additional diagnostics may include blood tests and abdominal imaging like ultrasound and X-rays. More information may be needed to make a diagnosis, so your vet may recommend an endoscopy, or colonoscopy so the GI tract can be visualized and sampled. This may involve a referral to a veterinary internist.

Blood in Dog Poop Treatment and Home Remedies

The exact treatment for blood in dog poop depends on the diagnosis, but it usually involves supportive care to relieve symptoms. This may include anti-diarrhea drugs, antiemetics for vomiting, and fluids to rehydrate.

Dogs with suspected infections may be prescribed an antibiotic while those with parasites will be treated with the appropriate deworming medication. Many dogs with diarrhea are treated with metronidazole, an antibiotic that is known to ease diarrhea and also treats some parasites. In addition, your vet may recommend a temporary diet change or a trial period with a special diet.

Chronic conditions that cause bloody poop in dogs, like inflammatory bowel disease, may lead to periodic flare-ups that require veterinary attention. These dogs may need treatment with long-term medications and therapeutic diets.

The treatment for bleeding in the upper GI tract often includes drugs like famotidine (Pepcid) to control stomach acid. Additionally, vets may prescribe sucralfate, a drug that coats the lining of the upper GI tract and can protect ulcers from further irritation, which promotes healing. Your vet will develop a specific treatment plan to address the source of the GI bleeding.

Home remedies and natural treatments can be helpful for some dogs under a vet's guidance. Your vet may recommend temporarily feeding a bland diet of plain boiled chicken and rice. There are also cases where it's appropriate to give dogs canned pumpkin, vitamins, supplements, or electrolyte drinks like Pedialyte. However, some home treatments can do more harm than good, so be sure to check with your vet first.

Preventing Your Dog From Pooping Blood

Some conditions simply can't be prevented, but early detection can help your dog get treatment before the signs become severe. Look at your dog's poop so you can detect abnormal stool when it starts. Contact your veterinarian if your dog is experiencing vomiting, diarrhea, or any other abnormal symptoms.

There are some situations that you can prevent: dogs sometimes get sick after they've eaten something they shouldn't. Keep hazardous items out of reach, including human foods, garbage, caustic substances, and small parts that may be swallowed. When outdoors, watch your dog closely to prevent exposure to toxins, wildlife, and other dangers.