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Why is my dog pooping blood?

Yorkshire pooping in garden advice
© Shutterstock

A dog’s stool matter is a great visible indicator of your pooch’s health. It’s obviously very worrying if your dog poops blood, but don’t be too alarmed, it could be one of many reasons.

By Dawn Parrish

Dog pooping blood is a serious condition

There are various reasons why your dog should produce a bloody bowel movement. Is your dog stressed, or have parasites in his body, or probably had a recent change of diet? He could have serious digestive problems, or did he recently swallow a sharp object? Regardless of your own diagnosis, it’s important to take your dog to the Vet for examination and confirmation of any underlying health issues.

Appearance of blood in dog poop

Any change in the appearance, frequency and consistency of your dog faeces can bring cause for concern. If your dog has tar-like or black blood in his stool, this requires urgent attention from your Vet. Any poop colour other than brown, indicates blood anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract of the dog. Your vet will investigate for possible anal gland problems, colitis, foreign objects or bleeding ulcers. You need to inform him of any further symptoms that aren’t normal, especially any diarrhoea containing blood. Your vet will probably ask for a stool sample from your pet to analyse, especially if there is  jelly like mucus present in the dog stool but the dog is acting as normal.

Parasites and worms causing blood in dog’s poo

If you don’t consistently worm your dog, he is more at risk of harbouring dog worms that can also be one cause of blood in canine faeces. Whip-worms and hook-worms are the two species of dog worms that will make your dog poop blood. Hook-worms cause anaemia and bleeding stools, whereas whip-worm infestation will present as anaemia, slimy bloody stools and bleeding rectum.

Health risks for dogs with blood in their faeces

Any blood that you discover in your dog’s stools should be a red flag that something isn’t quite right. Above all, common sense should alert you to this if you notice any bright red blood, or jelly like mucus in your dog’s poo. There are many different health risks associated with this which require examination and diagnosis by your Vet.

Black stools – generally contain digested blood, rather than fresh rectal blood. If accompanied by a low red blood cell count and pale gums, this may be a serious poisoning issue.

Haematochezia –any fresh, red blood passing through the dog’s colon or rectum.

Coccidiosis – primarily affecting puppies, this disease can be fatal if not detected early. A parasite living in the wall of the pup’s intestines produces a mucous-like, watery diarrhoea.

Diarrhoea – this is possibly one of the most common illnesses that affects canines. If it lasts for longer than 48 hours, is accompanied by abdominal pain, severe vomiting, lethargy, loss of appetite and blood in stools, veterinary attention is required.

Dyschezia – the term used to describe painful constipation in dogs. The straining to defecate can cause the dog to poop blood.

Melena  - If your dog’s poop appears to be of a tarry substance, or black in colour, this is linked to bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal area. The haemoglobin in the blood changes colour from red to black with involvement of intestinal bacteria and digestive chemicals.

Mucus in dog faeces – not always an indicator of ill health. Can be caused by various parasites or dog illnesses, but if accompanied by blood is usually a cause for concern.

Colitis – inflammation of the lower bowel. Samantha Coe BVetMed MRCVS explains that the symptoms of colitis may present as blood in your dog’s stool.  “As the problem progresses there are often further signs such as mucus (a slimy, jelly like substance) or blood in the stools. The dog may strain when producing the stools and unproductively afterwards (tenesmus). This unproductive straining or tenesmus can lead to many owners believing their pet is constipated. The straining is due to inflammation of the bowels causing the animal to continue trying to pass a motion even though there is nothing there and must be extremely uncomfortable. In the most severe cases of colitis there may be a reddish brown diarrhoea, vomiting and in the worst cases, dehydration leading to collapse.”

Dog's blood in stool - swollen belly
Is your dog's belly swollen©Pixabay

Check the general state of your dog

Yes, finding blood in your dog’s stool can be quite scary. One or two episodes of diarrhoea don’t usually mean you should panic, but some health situations do need urgent evaluation by a Vet.

  • Is your dog eating normally        
  • Is his appetite normal        
  • Does he have less energy        
  • Is he being sick         
  • The amount of blood in his stool         
  • When you touch his belly, does he cry with pain          
  • Does he have a swollen belly          
  • Do you know he has swallowed something- plants, antifreeze or other          
  • Are his anal glands swollen 
  • Does he have  diarrhoea that is lasting longer than 24 – 48 hours

Finally, if you notice any of these above symptoms in your pet, then an urgent trip to the surgery is required. Your Vet may request that you bring in a sample of your dog’s stool for analysis.