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Spotted blood in your dog's diarrhoea? Here's what you need to do

Back of a brown dog advice
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So you are worried about bloody diarrhoea in your dog. This can be a common health condition, but in most cases needs urgent veterinary attention

By Dawn Parrish

Updated on the 28/11/2019, 11:59

Diarrhoea in dogs

This common infection that affects most dogs throughout their lifetime, is often not spoken about. The cause of diarrhoea in our pets is almost certainly caused by either an infection, change in diet or an illness. Lasting for a week until as long as several months. Characteristics include liquid or frequent loose bowel movements. Other symptoms include straining to empty the bowel, mucus in the stool and increased flatulence. A bout of diarrhoea is probably not too worrying, apart from the possibility of dehydration, but a dog with diarrhoea and blood in its stool is cause for concern.

Causes of diarrhoea

There are many reasons that bring about a period of this nasty affliction. Here we list just several of the grounds for your dog’s runny poo. If your dog is suffering from bloody diarrhoea, it’s obviously quite worrying, but first, understand what causes the problem.

Parasites and Intestinal Worms – these are definite irritants to your dog’s intestines and bowel. Certainly, young puppies are often affected by these parasites. Hook-worms and whip-worms can both cause an outbreak.

Infections – both bacterial and viral infections will cause a change in bowel habits. Even more so, in young pups, who incidentally, are very prone to Parvovirus, which is a very serious health condition.

Diet change – Changing your dog’s diet from one food type to another, can cause trauma and irritation to the stomach and bowel.

Stress – Likewise with humans, excitement or anxiety will result in an upset of the lower bowel.

Metabolic disease – there are many medical issues that can result in a bout of diarrhoea; thyroid, liver or pancreas disorders may affect the gastrointestinal tract.

Toxins and medications – many pet owners are aware that a course of antibiotics may cause runny dog poos, but other medications and certain toxins can also result in an upset.

When blood in diarrhoea is dangerous

It’s even more worrying if your dog has bloody diarrhoea. The blood component can indicate a serious and very complicated issue. You would be advised to take your dog to the Vet as soon as you can. Diagnosed by Vets as Haemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE). This intestinal condition can be life-threatening in some cases. First of all, the symptoms will show as possible vomiting, then a sudden onset of watery, bloody diarrhoea. Shedding of the lining of the intestine, which is inflamed, will look similar to pieces of tissue in the poop. Referred to as “raspberry jam diarrhoea”, this condition will rapidly dehydrate your dog. In a frighteningly short period, your pet can change from a normal stance to at death’s door. Life-threatening shock can ensue.

Is your dog unwell with blood in his diarrhoea
Is your dog unwell©Ruby.Schmank, Unsplash

Symptoms to look out for when a dog has bloody diarrhoea

Because you have discovered blood in your dog’s bowel movement, you need to check for any other symptoms and ask your Vet’s advice. Your dog will probably have a fever, with possible lethargy and vomiting too. Has he suffered any recent weight loss? Is his normally shiny coat now looking dull? If your dog has any or all of these symptoms, now is the time to take your dog for further assessment and examination. Don’t rely on just your internet research for a diagnosis.

A Dog has bloody diarrhoea but is acting normally

Many pet owners panic when they first see blood in their dog’s stool. Your dog may suffer from colitis, have bloody diarrhoea, but be usually alert and bright with no other symptoms. Likewise, a young dog or a puppy with severe loss of appetite and lethargy needs to see a Vet immediately, as this could be a sign of Parvovirus disease.

Diagnosis of bloody diarrhoea in dogs

Once you have your dog at the Vet’s surgery, he will want to begin an examination and diagnostic tests. Depending on how incapacitated your dog is, and of course how dehydrated, treatment will commence. Blood tests, examination of faeces and possibly x-rays will be required. Remember that not all dogs that show a drop of blood, or an occasional speck when going to the toilet will need urgent care. The majority of these dogs will recover quite quickly and in some cases, the underlying cause of the bleeding is never discovered.

blood in dogs diarrhoea
Dog unwell - does he have blood in his diarrhoea©Ruby.Schmank, Unsplash

The best thing you can do to help your pooch when he has blood in his runny poos is to be astute. Notice any changes to his eating habits, and monitor his behaviour. Of course, research his condition, but the minute you become worried, contact your Vet immediately. In the meantime, don’t panic.