What To Do About Blood In Your Dog’s Stool

Blood in dog stool

One of the least glamorous things about dog ownership is picking up poop. But it gives you valuable insight into his well-being. By knowing what your dog’s stool normally looks, feels and smells like, you can quickly identify any changes or potential problems. One thing that’s scary is noticing blood in your dog’s stool. 

What Does Blood In Dogs Stools Look Like?


Blood in your dog’s stool can appear in several ways. Signs of blood in the stool range from black tarry stools to bright red blood-streaked stools … and they come from different places in your dog’s digestive tract. As well as blood, you might see mucus on the stool, a jelly-like consistency or different color stools.  

Blood in your dog’s stool can appear in several ways. Signs of blood in the stool range from black tarry stools to bright red blood-streaked stools … and they come from different places in your dog’s digestive tract. As well as blood, you might see mucus on the stool, a jelly-like consistency or different color stools.  

Black Tarry Dog Stools

When you see very dark or black, tarry-looking stools, it’s called melana. Melana contains digested blood from the esophagus, upper small intestine or stomach. This can be more serious, especially if your dog feels off-color or acts lethargic. 

Red Bloody Dog Stools

When your dog’s poop is streaked with red blood, it’s called hematochezia … fresh blood from the colon or rectum. Your dog may feel fine, and you probably shouldn’t worry unless your dog has more than one or two bloody stools. 

“Strawberry Milkshake” Bloody Dog Stools

This type of stool can be serious. Strawberry milkshake poop happens when blood gets mixed into the partially digested bowel contents. If you see poop with red or pink swirls in it, it means there’s bleeding in your dog’s small intestine. If the small intestine is bleeding and inflamed, your dog can’t absorb nutrients. It also means food is passing through his large intestine too quickly.

When your dog has strawberry milkshake poop, it will look like poop with red or pink swirls, or you’ll see red flecks mixed in with the stool. 

What Causes Blood In Dog Stools?

There can be many reasons for your dog’s bloody stool, ranging from bacterial infections to parasites to gastroenteritis. 

Causes Of Bright Red Blood In Dog Stool

Fresh red blood can be caused by parvovirus, parasites, stress, rectal injuries, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, or your dog eating something he shouldn’t have. If your dog is acting normally but you see one or two stools with blood, it’s probably nothing serious. But if your dog regularly has bright red blood in his stool, here are some possible causes … 

Parovirus

Parvovirus, typically in puppies, can be deadly. If you notice your dog is lethargic, not hungry, vomiting and regularly has blood in his stools, you need to contact your holistic veterinarian right away. Puppies can dehydrate extremely fast and that’s one reason parvo is so dangerous. You can manage parvo at home but don’t try to do it without help … you must work with your vet. 

RELATED: What to do if your puppy gets parvo

Parasites

Intestinal parasites like worms are a common cause of blood in your dog’s poop. You can take a fecal sample to your vet to confirm the diagnosis … but try to avoid harsh deworming drugs. There are many natural ways to help your dog eliminate intestinal parasites. Read about these at the link below. 

RELATED: Use these natural remedies to get rid of worms in your dog … 

Hermorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE)

HGE is a serious problem that causes jelly-like, dark and bloody diarrhea. It can look a bit like strawberry jam. Often there’s bloody vomiting as well. If your dog is behaving normally and doesn’t show any signs of feeling ill, you might be able to treat this type of diarrhea at home. But if he seems at all unwell, don’t hesitate to go to the vet. 

HGE can come on very suddenly and it can be serious … even deadly. So if your dog is weak or lethargic, not eating, or has abdominal pain, contact your vet immediately.  Dogs with HGE can quickly get dehydrated so he may need extra fluids. If you catch HGE early, your vet may give you subcutaneous fluids to give at home. But in severe cases, your dog might need to stay at the clinic to get IV fluids. 

HGE may also sometimes be associated with pancreatitis. Acute pancreatitis also needs immediate vet treatment and can be a true emergency. 

HGE is more common in small and toy breeds, often around 5 years old. And the cause seems to be random and often unidentified. In some cases it can be caused by a bacterial infection such as Clostridium perfringens. It can also happen if your dog eats something indigestible … like garbage or your shoes. 

RELATED: When to worry your dog might have a gastrointestinal obstruction … 

Rectal Injuries

Rectal injuries can happen if your dog eats something sharp that causes damage. This could be a stick, needle, bone shard or other sharp object.

If your dog’s feeling normal with his usual energy, you can try home remedies to help expel the object. Try giving slippery elm powder mixed with warm water to make a gel. It soothes the digestive tract, and it can coat the object and help it pass. 

If you suspect a bad tear your dog will need a trip to the vet. He could require stitches or even surgery to remove the object. 

RELATED: How slippery elm can help your dog with digestive problems … 

Stress

Stressful situations like a new dog, a new home, boarding or competition can cause your dog to have bloody stool. You’ll see soft stool with mucus and some blood. Stress-related problems should resolve in a day or so. You can give flower remedies like Rescue Remedy to help your dog feel more confident. 

Causes Of Dark Tarry Dog Stool

Black tarry stools can stem from some serious problems like tumors, cancers, blood clotting disorders, post-surgery complications … and medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). 

Note: This section also covers stools with a “strawberry milkshake” appearance as described above. It can have similar causes to black tarry stool because it means the blood is partially digested, and comes from the small intestine. 

Tumors

Tumors and cancers are all too common, with 50% of dogs getting cancer. If your dog is pooping dark, blackish or strawberry milkshake stools, see your vet.  

Rat Poison

Has your dog’s skin turned purplish? If it’s a small area, it could be just a bruise … but it also could mean internal bleeding. Add in black, tarry poop, and it’s possible your dog ate some rat poison. You may see lethargy, pale or bleeding gums, breathing difficulties, a bloody nose or coughing blood.  If you suspect he got into rat poison, or ate a poisoned rat, get him to your vet urgently.

Surgical Complications

If you see black tarry or strawberry milkshake stools within 2-3 days after your dog’s had surgery, this could also mean internal bleeding. Call your vet immediately if you notice dark bloody poop post-surgery.

NSAIDs

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are often prescribed long term for chronic pain like arthritis. But one of the side effects can be gastrointestinal bleeding, ulcers and perforations. Even the FDA warns of these serious side effects. So if your dog’s taking NSAIDs and you notice black or pink stools, discontinue the drugs and contact your vet right away. 

RELATED: Find natural pain relief alternatives instead of giving NSAIDs to your dog … 

Pepto Bismol

Ironically, Pepto-Bismol can also cause black stool, so if you ever give your dog Pepto for digestive upset, that could be the cause. Find out the many other reasons not to give your dog Pepto-Bismol

When Your Dog’s Bloody Stool Needs A Vet

We mentioned above some specific times when blood in your dog’s stool needs a vet visit. But if you don’t really know what’s causing your dog’s bloody stool, use these guidelines …

Take your dog to the vet immediately if you see any kind of bloody stool plus …

  • Lethargy
  • Simultaneous bloody vomiting
  • Other bleeding (gums, nose, coughing blood)
  • Lack of appetite
  • You suspect poisoning, “dietary indiscretion” or blockage

Check with your vet if you see more than 24-48 hours of …

  • Black stool or black “coffee grounds” in the stool
  • Strawberry milkshake stool
  • Continued large amounts of fresh red blood and diarrhea

Take a stool sample with you if you can. If your dog has diarrhea, you might need to use a plastic container to scoop it up. 

When To Manage Your Dog’s Bloody Stool At Home

Some cases of bloody dog poop need a vet visit. If you suspect some of the more serious problems described above (parvovirus, internal bleeding, HGE, poison, tumors, possible blockage), check with your vet right away.

But if you see a bit of blood on the stool once or twice and your dog’s feeling fine, it’s usually nothing to worry about.  And if your dog has a bout of diarrhea with some blood in it, you can likely manage it at home. 

Fast Your Dog

If your dog’s an adult, fasting for 12-24 hours will often clear up the problem. Don’t fast a puppy though. If your puppy has diarrhea it’s best to contact your vet. 

RELATED: How fasting can help your dog’s immune system … 

Probiotics

Give your dog a good probiotic, ideally one that like Bifido For Fido that contains the strains Bacillus subtilis, Pediococcus acidifactici, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Saccharomyces boulardii. That last one is actually a yeast but it’s very effective in helping with diarrhea. 

RELATED: Find out which probiotics will work best for your dog … 

ReIntroduce Food Gradually

Once your dog’s diarrhea stops, start with something gentle like homemade bone broth.  If he has no more diarrhea 4-6 hours after the bone broth, you can start to give small amounts of solid food. 

PRO TIP

Save the meat that fell off the bone when you made the broth and give it as an easily digestible snack or meal. 

Gut Healing Remedies

These are some home remedies that can soothe your dog’s digestive tract and help him heal. 

Slippery Elm – make a gel by mixing the powder with a little warm water. You can stir it into the bone broth or add it to food. Give ¼ tsp powder per 10 lbs body weight. 

L-Glutamine  – This amino acid helps heal your dog’s intestines. It’s OK to give it with other supplements, or as part of an overall gut healing supplement. Daily dose is 500mg per 25 lbs body weight.

Marshmallow Root – This is another soothing herb that lowers inflammation in the digestive tract. Give ½ to 1.5 ml tincture per 20 lbs body weight, twice daily. 

RELATED: Read more detail about how to manage dog diarrhea at home … 

It’s always important to pay attention to anything unusual in your dog’s poop. The appearance and color can tell you a lot about what could be behind it. Then you’ll know if it’s an emergency that needs the vet, or something that will resolve on its own … perhaps with a little help from you.

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