This article was updated on May 1st, 2023
Every morning, you take Fido out for a pee on the grass. But today, something weird happened. After relieving himself, you noticed a murky discoloration in your dog’s urine. Bending down to have a closer look, you realize with mounting fear that it is…blood, or a blood clot (if you are not sure – read our article: “Is this blood in my dog’s pee?“)
Suddenly, anxiety creeps in. Your dog is acting 100% normal and showing zero signs of discomfort or distress. So, why on earth are they peeing blood out of nowhere? Our veterinary team at Senior Tail Waggers is here with answers!
Common Causes of Bloody Dog Pee in Otherwise Normal Dogs
Imagine the following scenario. Your dog woke up happy, ate his breakfast kibble, played with his favorite toy, and now it’s time for a morning walk. Everything seems ordinary. He’s not licking at his genitals or crying out in pain. Yet when he lifts a leg to pee, your eyes go wide with shock. Is that blood in his urine? Yes.
Stay calm! Believe it or not, there are many reasons why a dog’s pee might contain traces of bloody liquid discharge. Even though this can be quite alarming to see (especially if it is unexpected) otherwise healthy dogs can and do develop urinary issues. If your dog acting normal but peeing blood, it could be for any of the following reasons.
1. Lower urinary tract issues
Approximately 54% of cases of blood in a dog’s urine are due to lower urinary tract disease or infections. Physically speaking, this part of a dog’s body contains the bladder and urethra, and in males, the prostate. When any of these become inflamed, the result could be rusty red or bright orangish blood mixed in with yellow urine. And because your dog is acting normal, you might not even know until you spot it. Here are illnesses/diseases to be on the lookout for:
Lower Urinary Tract Infections
Also known as UTI’s, these can occur in both male and female dogs, with the latter making up the majority of cases. Basically, it’s an infection in the bladder. UTI’s are easy to treat with antibiotics but tricky to recognize, particularly for dog owners who don’t watch their pups go potty. If your dog has free backyard time and no daily walks, days or even weeks could theoretically pass before you notice they are struggling to pee or peeing little amounts much too frequently. Thus, a dog could appear normal inside the house. When really, their urine is bloody during bathroom breaks. Left untreated, this can result in excruciating bladder stones, or worse…
Upper urinary tract disease
Another reason why your dog may be peeing blood but acting normal has to do with the upper urinary tract. It’s estimated this is the cause of roughly 30% of bloody urine incidents. It affects the kidneys and ureter tubes. Remember, dogs have a different pain tolerance than humans. Whereas we can drive ourselves to the doctor when our bodies feel off, a dog relies upon you to notice any subtle changes in their behavior. For example, a dog with kidney stones might experience abdominal discomfort but act normally for the most part. Until they feel the urge to pee, they might show no signs of an upper urinary tract disease. They will still drink, eat, sleep, and play as usual. And if they do show pain, it might not be what you’d expect. Abdominal pain in dogs may show up as a slight hump in their back or a little stiffness in their walk.
Again, this is why paying attention to your dog’s pee and bowel movements is so very important! Both are excellent indicators of any health issues.
2. Urinary Stones
Urinary stones form in the kidneys or urinary bladder. They may be brought on by an infection or due to an imbalance pH, salt concentration, or immune response. The most common sign of urinary stones is bloody urine because the stones cause irritation of the kidney or bladder walls that causes bleeding. This may be the only sign.
Occasionally, smaller stones may become lodged in the ureters or urethra, where they block a dog’s ability to pee. This is an emergency and should be treated right away to prevent the rupture of part of the urinary tract, as well as kidney failure..
A veterinarian will be able to diagnose urinary stones using ultrasound or x-rays. Some stones can be dissolved using medications, while others will require surgery to remove them.
3. Blood Clotting or Cancer
In addition, abnormal platelet function – or coagulopathy – can make blood show up in dog urine. When the blood doesn’t clot properly, there can be red blood cell hemorrhages.
Similarly, cancer can manifest itself as bloody pee. Urine might appear mostly yellow with streaks of red or entirely pink/orange. Different types of cancer affecting the thyroid, hormones, urinary system, and digestive system can all make an otherwise normal-acting dog urinate blood.
Is Blood in Dog Urine an Emergency If My Dog is Acting Normal?
Now the main question is, “If my dog is acting fine but peeing blood, should I whisk them off to the 24/7 emergency clinic?” Not necessarily.
Consider a wide range of factors. A trip to the emergency veterinary hospital is warranted in some situations, whereas booking an appointment a few days out is perfectly acceptable in others.
How to tell the difference?
Disclaimer: This content is not a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your vet for health decisions. Learn more.
First, observe the color of your dog’s urine. Brown urine is a signal that something is seriously wrong (like toxin ingestion or muscular damage). Furthermore, any sort of trauma (like a car accident, huge amounts of blood loss, collapse, fainting, or whining and howling from pain) indicates you should rush to the vet.
On the other hand, urine that is merely a darker shade of yellow could mean that your dog is perfectly healthy, just dehydrated and in need of a bowl of fresh water.
To view a chart with visual examples, please see: My Dog is Peeing Blood! What Should I Do? 2 Vets Explain.
WATCH: 3 Important Tips To Care For an Old Dog [VET VIDEO]
When in doubt, phone your veterinarian. They will know best.
Does My Dog Need a Urine Sample If They Have No Other Symptoms?
Okay, blood keeps showing up in your dog’s urine.
You are officially worried.
A pup who acts normal might just be in the very early stages of whatever illness/disease has taken hold. Therefore, a wise course of action is to get a urine sample assessed. Even if they have no other symptoms, doing so will rule out possible causes. It will also give you time to mentally (and financially) prepare for whatever treatment a vet recommends, which can range anywhere from $50 – $100 for a basic urinalysis to well over $2,000 for bladder stone surgery.
The goal is to catch problems early.
Animals are skilled at hiding signs of discomfort and illness. Oftentimes, it isn’t until a physical abnormality is noted that pet owners realize their fur babies may be in trouble. This is especially true for dogs with bloody urine. A pup who pees blood might act totally normal, except for when they go potty.
The moment you see blood, act.
The longer you assume your dog is fine, the more time passes before they receive a proper diagnosis. In some cases, a trip to the vet can, in fact, end up saving their life! Whether it’s a tiny amount of blood or a dark and heavy stream, Senior Tail Waggers encourages you to contact your veterinarian immediately.
This will ensure your pup heals fast and also gives you peace of mind.