If your dog has fresh or dark blood, mucus, or a blood-like consistency and color in the stool, a detective search for the cause is called for. Because the symptoms can have a wide variety of causes, from poor nutrition to injuries, infections, or poisoning to tumors in the digestive tract of your favorite.
A terrible idea for every dog owner: you go for a walk with your four-legged friend, you have the plastic bag ready to hand and then you discover that the “business” of your favorite dog is red and looks suspiciously like blood. Bloody stool? Keep calm, it doesn’t have to be a serious illness. Nevertheless, you should react to this warning signal immediately. Nevertheless, the following applies:
See a vet within 24 hours!
Blood in the Feces: Dangerous or Harmless?
Is the blood in the stool light or dark, colored almost black, covered in slimy green or yellow, soft or rather hard? Is it diarrhea or is it constipation with difficulty getting out? The first information gives the consistency and color of the excrement.
Dangerous: Dark blood in the stool
- Fresh, light-colored blood in the stool is more indicative of acute, superficial bleeding.
- Dark blood in the feces usually comes from deep down. Therefore, dark blood in the dog’s stool is an important warning signal: it indicates bleeding in the stomach, small or large intestine.
Harmless: Food that stains the feces
A harmless variant of discolored bowel movements can result from food secreting color during digestion. Beetroot, for example, contains the natural pigment betanin, which gives the stool a reddish color; blueberries, in turn, ensure a slight black color. At this point, a reminder, in case the colored droppings could be related to it: All plant-based feed components may only be administered in pure form.
Common Causes of Blood in Feces
One thing is clear if you see “red” in the legacy of your favorite dog, it is already a sign with a signal effect. Here you will find out how you can draw the first conclusions from the color and consistency of the stool and support the vet with his anamnesis and diagnosis.
Diet, Allergies, Constipation
Has the feed been changed recently?
Wrong diet, a recent change in diet, e.g. to BARF or grain-free food, or allergies can put such a strain on the gastrointestinal tract of your four-legged friend that it can lead to bleeding or slimy excretions with blood. Long-term allergies have often already led to sequelae such as chronic stomach and intestinal irritation.
It is important to get to the bottom of this. Start with a diet of eliminating the suspect foods. To do this, you need a little patience and the ability to observe whether your darling is feeling better after a short time and when the consistency and color of the excretions have normalized again. If it is necessary to change the feed, the consistency of the feces can initially deteriorate. Dog poop in a slimy shell is also not uncommon. The dog’s gastrointestinal system takes some time to get used to the new ingredients and changed nutrient levels.
Therefore a slow change of feed is recommended. In addition, a transition phase of at least 5 days should be observed. By the way, a healthy diet is an important part of disease prevention. For us humans, the idea of eating the same thing every day seems rather unattractive. Wholesome and not too one-sided, but also not too adventurous food has proven to be the best and most tolerable feeding strategy for dogs. In addition, please avoid too many treats, leftover food, and unhealthy calorie bombs, especially if you have symptoms such as blood in your stool.
Constipation and excessive pressing
Constipation, for example from feeding only dry food or eating whole bones, can lead to bleeding. Very dry, hardened feces, so-called “bone feces”, can lead to tears during excretion. Therefore, you should also take a look at the bottom and anus for clarification and check for blood on the fur to make sure that this is not the cause of the symptom.
Eaten Spoiled or Poisoned Food?
Has your fur nose eaten something spoiled or poisoned? If you have a four-legged friend by your side who is agile and has a fine nose, it happens faster than you think that he will eat carcasses or rotten food by the wayside without you noticing. A short-term, actually harmless stomach upset can be the result. Here, however, the symptoms should subside quickly.
Food vessels made of heavy metals can provide another reason for symptoms of poisoning. Zinc, copper, or lead can accumulate in the feed over a longer period of time and cause symptoms of poisoning. It’s even worse if it’s deliberately placed poison bait that got into your companion’s stomach. Some poisons directly attack blood vessels and can cause bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract. Quick action is the order of the day. If you suspect poisoning, see your vet immediately.
Foreign Body Swallowed
Unfortunately, it is sometimes not so easy to avoid protecting your four-legged friend from foreign objects in the form of bitten plastic toys, balls, socks, sticks, fishhooks, stones, sausage packaging, leftover bones, wood splinters, or fish bones. Often our friends are too nimble and the dangerous parts end up in the animal’s throat before we can react. Damage to the mucous membrane in the mouth, gagging, and vomiting can be the first signs. If the parts get into the stomach and intestines, inflammation, colic, and intestinal bleeding can occur. Sometimes the foreign body is excreted without major problems, but it can also lead to intestinal blockages or injuries to the digestive tract, which must then be surgically corrected as quickly as possible.
A less common cause of blood in stool is external injuries to the dog that can occur while playing, fighting, or from accidents. Nevertheless, you should have this option on your checklist in order to gain clarity in the search for clues and to be able to give your vet information.
Inflammation of the Anal Gland
Advanced inflammation of the anal glands can develop into tears, which is shown by light-colored blood in the feces. For emptying of the anal glands and treatment, they should see the veterinarian.
Worms, Parasites, Giardia
In particular, infestation by hookworms, whipworms, and roundworms is widespread in Central and Southern Europe. Bloody diarrhea can result, which is then usually dark in color. Regular deworming and modern worming agents can usually avert the danger in good time. If you have been abroad with your dog, other types of worms and parasites are possible. In this case, it is imperative that you consult your vet before using wormer products yourself if you suspect it.
Giardia is a microscopic, unicellular small intestine parasite that can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and bleeding. Giardia infection always occurs orally. When swallowed, the parasite ends up in the small intestine, where it attaches to the cells of the intestinal mucosa with the help of a kind of suction cup. During this process, the intestinal wall is damaged so that blood can be seen in the stool. The dog has diarrhea, again and again, slimy, greasy, also mushy to watery, often yellow-green, often its “business” is foul-smelling, sometimes foam-like.
Stomach, Small, Colon Diseases and Infections
Dark to black blood in the feces, sometimes with diarrhea, vomiting, or mucus indicates bleeding in the stomach, small or large intestine. The most common conditions behind this symptom include chronic colon inflammation, small bowel inflammation, gastroenteritis, and gastritis. The triggers are varied and complex. There is no alternative to going to the vet and absolutely urgent to save your beloved four-legged friend further pain and bleeding. This also applies to serious infectious diseases such as leptospirosis and toxoplasmosis. They can lead to an intestinal ulcer and thus to intestinal bleeding and must be treated by the vet without hesitation, which is usually done by giving antibiotics that kill bacteria.
Polyps, Ulcers, Tumors
Polyps, ulcers, colon tumors, and colon cancer are also common and extremely dangerous triggers of blood in the dog’s stool. The development of intestinal tumors is initiated by a disruption of the immune system of your favorite, many factors such as stress, environmental pollution or chemical agents can contribute to the growth of cancer – above all the wrong diet.
Blood in the Stool – What is Needed for a Diagnosis?
Since symptoms with blood in the stool are serious signals, it is important to see the vet quickly and to be able to provide as detailed information as possible at the first appointment. This begins with the previous medical history and known intolerances, eating habits, or the changed behavior of your dog.
- What is the current diet like?
- Was there a change in a feed recently?
- Are there any allergies?
- Do you suspect poisoning?
Describe the consistency, color, and smell of the excrement to your vet. It is best to take a stool sample with you to the first appointment, the sterile tubes for this are available in every pharmacy. Your vet will then arrange for tests for viruses, bacteria, and parasites so that infectious agents can be identified quickly and usually successfully combated. Ultrasound examinations of the digestive tract, X-rays with or without contrast media, or, if necessary, a rectoscope can detect injuries, inflammations, irritations, polyps, or tumors in the digestive tract of your four-legged companion.
What Does Your Dog Need Now?
Treatment options for blood in your dog’s stool are as varied as the triggers. In the best case, your darling will be fine again after a few days of fasting, light food, and exclusion diet, or omitting the allergy trigger. The addition of digestive aids can support this process very favorably. Even in the case of parasite or worm infestation, if the type of pathogen is determined quickly, there is a good chance of a cure.
If you are diagnosed with chronic inflammation of the digestive tract, ulcers, or tumors, you should patiently do everything you can to help your darling recover. On the one hand, this includes medical care through to surgery and regular follow-up care, but also rest, light movement, psychological and physical pats and, above all, high-quality food, because the wrong diet is often the beginning of diseases in the digestive tract.