If you notice your dog pooping blood it can be pretty scary, although it can be a symptom of a serious condition, don’t panic, it could be because of something pretty innocuous too. Finding blood in your dog’s stool is not something that you can ignore as it is actually a symptom that something is wrong with your pooch and not an ailment in itself.
There are a variety of conditions that might be causing it, some of the more common ones I’ve discussed below, but the only way to find out for sure what’s wrong with your best friend is to have him examined by a vet.
Blood in dogs’ stools can be bright red, technically known as hematochezia, which would suggest a bleed from the lower intestines, usually the rectum or colon. With hematochezia, you might notice fresh red blood mixed in with your dog’s stools or perhaps notice a few drops of blood whilst your dog is pooping.
On the other hand, blood can also make your dog’s stools look black and tar-like, this is because it is digested blood and probably originates from the upper intestine – the medical term for this sort of bleeding is melana.
Melena can be harder to spot, especially if your dog’s poops are sometimes dark anyway, in fact often it can only be confirmed by analysis at the vets. It’s sensible to ensure you are aware of the normal colour and consistency of your dog’s poops so that if you notice anything unusual about them you can take a closer look.
Sometimes your pooch has just eaten something that has caused his stools to change colour, but it could be symptomatic of something much more serious and the quicker it’s picked up the better.
Along with blood in his poop your dog might be presenting with other symptoms too such as lethargy, being off his food, vomiting or have bloody diarrhoea. Obviously, if you are worried your pet is unwell and suspect that your pooch has blood in his stools it’s important to get him checked out, immediately if he is pooping large amounts of blood or is vomiting as well.
As explained above blood being present in your dog’s faeces is a symptom that something untoward is going on with your pooch and there’s a comprehensive range of conditions it could indicate, some serious and some less so.
Parasite infestations such as hookworms, whipworms and roundworms are one of the most common reasons. If your dog has worms, he will probably present with other symptoms too, such as scooting across the floor to relieve an itchy bum and you might notice that he has lost a little weight and/or a change in appetite.
A rectal injury could also be the culprit, maybe your dog has swallowed something like a stick or bone and is either straining to pass it or it has cut him on the way out.
Blood in your dog’s stools can also be a symptom of colitis, the typical colitis poop also has a jelly-like appearance as it often contains mucus. IBS or anal gland problems could also be to blame and sometimes it’s down to a food intolerance, allergy or a dietary indiscretion aka scavenging.
Parvovirus is a serious condition that can be fatal, symptoms often include diarrhoea with blood in and vomiting. Fortunately, most of us vaccinate our pups against this horrible virus but if your dog is a young puppy or unvaccinated he could be at risk. If you are worried your pooch has contracted parvo get him to the vets straight away.
Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis, or in lay man's terms bloody diarrhoea in dogs, with or without vomiting definitely won’t occur without you noticing. This condition usually appears suddenly and is commonly caused by your four-legged friend being infected with bacteria such as salmonella or E. coli but there are several other reasons that your pooch could be affected including stress, ulcers, parvo or a sudden change in diet.
It’s important to take your pet to the vet as soon as possible as hemorrhagic gastroenteritis requires medical treatment.
Cancer or another type of tumour is the one possibility that would probably frighten us all, but as you’ve read above there are so many other reasons it could be. Even if it is this worst-case scenario the sooner your pet is diagnosed the greater his chances of being successfully treated – just as in us humans.
If your dog has blood in his stools you really need to have him checked out by a professional, it’s helpful to take a sample or photograph of the poop to your appointment as it may help your vet figure out what’s causing it.
The treatment your pooch receives at the vets will, of course, depend on his diagnosis, but there are some conditions that you can help to prevent once you get him home. Regular worming and keeping your furry friend's vaccinations up to date is imperative to protect him from contracting a parasite infection or parvo respectively.
You also might find that addressing your dog’s diet can help, what we feed our canine companions has such a huge impact on their health and some ailments can be greatly alleviated by simply transitioning your dog to a more natural, low processed diet.
If your dog has been diagnosed with colitis for example, which simply put is an inflammation of the colon, he may do better on a diet that has low to moderate fat content and is gentle on the stomach. Dog’s that routinely suffer from anal gland problems can also be helped by a change of dog food.
Pure is fantastic for dog’s that need a bit of tempting to eat if they are recuperating or feeling a bit under the weather and since it only contains human-grade meat along with nutritious vegetables, fruit and essential vitamins, you can be sure that you are feeding your dog healthy food.
There are a number of illnesses that can cause blood to be found in your dog’s stool. Feeding your pup a good quality diet is key in preventing most of the conditions which cause this frightening issue.
Blood in dog stool can be caused by gastroenteritis, colitis, IBS, or anal gland problems, which are triggered by poor nutrition. You can prevent many gastrointestinal illnesses by feeding your dog a highly digestible diet, which puts less strain on their digestive tract and allows more nutrients to be absorbed into the body. Digestible foods also produce less waste, keeping your pup toileting regularly without overworking their bowels.
You also need to avoid irritation to your pup’s gut. Avoiding foods with common allergens is a great start. Better still, steer clear of food containing any additives like artificial colours, flavours, and preservatives to minimise the potential irritants your dog is ingesting.
Just like humans, a dog’s digestive system isn’t evolved to handle high amounts of highly-processed foods. Giving your pup fresh food containing natural ingredients is more suited to their digestive system, and less likely to cause stomach upset or trigger any chronic health conditions.
Finally, it’s important that your pooch is eating enough fibre to make sure their digestive system is in good health and their bowel movements are regular. Pure curates tailored recipes which pack in all the dietary fibre your pooch needs, as well as a limited list of natural and highly-digestible ingredients. This means a more nourishing way of feeding, with maximum nutrients going in and minimal waste coming out.
Pure has been recommended by vets for dogs like Reggie, who have suffered from a sensitive stomach and bouts of colitis. A whole pack of owners have found their pup’s poorly tummies recover on a Pure diet. So well in fact, that the conditions often don’t reoccur!
If you find blood in your dog’s stool you should always take them to the vet for a check-up. But by feeding them a natural diet proven to prevent many of the health problems which cause blood in dog stool, you’re well on the way to preventing the problem.
Written by: Dr Andrew Miller MRCVS
Andy graduated from Bristol University in 2010 and sees nutrition as a foundation for our pet's wellbeing and takes a common-sense approach. We are what we eat, and it shouldn't be any different for our pets.