Dog Blood in Stool

" Dog blood in stool can be caused by a number of underlying problems. The blood supplies nutrients like water and electrolytes to cells of the body; which are absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract, in a complex mechanism, followed by digestion. Problems of blood in dog stool may refer to “melena” and “hematochezia”, the passing of dark or fresh blood in the stool.  Abnormalities in the functioning of the hematopoietic system (formation of blood cells) may be either qualitative or quantitative. The severity and/or volume of blood in the stool refer to the quantitative timpace while the underlying cause refers to the qualitative aspects of the condition. Passing of dog blood in stool may be related to as a quantitative problem, although the underlying cause may be of any kind. Different causes, such as bacterial or viral infections, trauma, parasites, inflammation, allergy, ingested sharp objects, and tumors can leave a dog with blood in its stool. Some dogs may experience mild to severe anemia, due to blood loss. The underlying cause should be treated along with symptomatic and supportive therapies."

Forms of Dog Blood in Stool:

Blood may pass in a dog’s stool in two different forms; it may be fresh blood or may be tarry and dark in color. Melena is the term used for dark, tarry blood in dog stool. Dark blood indicates problems in the small intestine and underlying conditions which are considered to be chronic (serious). On the other hand, hematochezia refers to fresh blood in dog stool, which is acute in nature (comes on suddenly) and mostly refers to problems in the large intestines.

Causes of Dog Blood in Stool:

There are numerous causes related to dog blood in stool. Sometimes it is hard to describe the exact cause; as many of them are correlated (seen together). Almost all causes for dog blood in the stool, are linked with gastrointestinal disorders. The following are some causes:

  • Bacterial and Viral Infections; Bacterial agents, such as Salmonella, Clostridium, E. coli etc, and viruses like Parvovirus, Coronavirus etc, can cause a severe infection in the gastrointestinal tract. These microbes cause inflammation in the intestines and damage the epithelium (surface) of the gastrointestinal walls, leaving a dog with severe enteritis (inflammation of the small intestine). Blood may  pass in the dog stool, along with diarrhea.
  • Parasites; Different types of worms, protozoa and parasites can infest the digestive tract such as whip worms, ring worms and coccidian, all of which can cause bloody diarrhea in dogs. Mild or severe anemia (lethargy, paleness due to a decline in red blood cell volume) will occur; as all parasites, either cause damage to the walls of the gastrointestinal tract or suck blood.
  • Trauma and Injury; Any physical damage to the walls of the intestines, stomach or any part of the digestive tract, can cause bleeding. Blood  passes in the stool and can be identified as fresh blood, with no mucous in it. Internal injuries due to accidents, ingestion of sharp objects, such as bones, needles, metal, plastic, hard fiber etc are some examples.
  • Allergies; Some dogs, particularly some breeds can be sensitive towards the components of food such as certain proteins. These food components can either  cause increased bowel movements or  cause blood to escape from the capillaries, due to the osmotic threshold. Food additives found in commercial foods and foods with a high fat content can  leave dogs with blood in their stool.
  • Tumors; Mostly malignant tumors (cancerous) can cause cellular damage in the intestines or in the abdomen. Blood may pass into the feces as the result of a severe and extended form of cancer. Blood in the dog stool, due to tumors are mostly diagnosed in latter stages, making these types of tumors hard to cure.
  • Inflammation; Inflammation in different parts of the gastrointestinal tract can also cause increased blood supply to that part of the body. In severe inflammation, blood may escape from the tract and pass into the stool. Bacterial or viral infections in the small intestines, anal sacculitis (inflammation of the anal sac) and colitis (inflammation of colon), are some examples.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Dog Blood in Stool:

Diagnosis usually requires a thorough clinical examination of the dog and the content of the stool. The appearance of blood can help to identify the possible causes. However, laboratory testing is required in most cases.

Stool examination in the laboratory and blood biochemistry, can help in diagnosing the cause and possible outcome of the disease. Anemia and fluid levels should also be confirmed for dogs with blood in their stool.

Specific treatment of the underlying cause is compulsory, as per the diagnosis and requirements outlined by the veterinarian. Infections should be treated with anti-biotics, anti-inflammatory drugs and supportive supplementation. Tumors, traumas, and disruptions, may require surgical proceedings, along with post surgical management.

Support with fluids and blood transfusions, may be required in severe cases. It is dependent upon diagnostic results for anemia, dehydration and the degree of severity.

Home Remedies for Blood in Dog Stool

Mild, particularly non-pathological and veterinarian recommended cases can be managed at home, by managing nutrition and nursing. Garlic is the best-known home cure for this condition, if 1–2 cloves are added to a dog’s meal once a day. Affected dogs, must not be given commercial foods; as these may contain artificial food additives, and should be fed homemade food, served in small meals, several times a day. High fiber diets with low fat are a good choice, and should be thoroughly blended. Rice, boiled potatoes and cottage cheese is also safe   to serve.

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The Merck Veterinary Manual

M. C Sharma, et all. Dogs: Breeding, Nutrition & Health Management (C.B.S Publishers, India. 2005)

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