Seeing your dog vomit is upsetting enough, but vomiting blood can be downright scary. So what are the possible reasons for vomiting blood? When should you take your dog to the vet? This article is written by a veterinarian to help you understand the most common causes for vomiting blood in dogs, how it’s treated, and when to seek veterinary attention.
The medical term for vomiting blood is hematemesis and its causes range from mild to life-threatening. Anything from a minor mouth injury or irritation from repetitive vomiting after a tummy upset could cause your dog to vomit small amounts of blood. Many of these conditions are easily treated by your vet.
Unfortunately, some extremely serious medical conditions can also cause hematemesis, including deadly toxins, cancer, or a perforated bowel after swallowing a sharp object. These conditions are an emergency requiring urgent veterinary care. But how do you tell the difference and what should you do?
Is Blood in Your Dog’s Vomit an Emergency?
As previously discussed, there are many reasons why your dog might be vomiting blood and they vary from minor health issues to serious medical conditions. This is why it’s extremely important that pet owners seek veterinary advice whenever they notice blood in their dog’s vomit, no matter how small the amount.
Blood may appear in the vomit as fresh blood, blood clots or digested blood, which resembles dark coffee grounds. The appearance of blood in your dog’s vomit or feces can help your vet determine where the blood might have come from and narrow down underlying causes.
Hematemesis is not uncommon in dogs, so if you’ve noticed that your dog has vomited a small amount of blood and is otherwise bright in themselves, start by calling your regular vet first for advice.
Monitor your pup closely for any changes and if you have any concerns, update your vet as soon as possible. It’s also important to know when vomiting blood is an emergency and requires an immediate trip to your nearest emergency vet clinic. Signs that your dog needs urgent veterinary attention include:
- Pale or white gums
- Collapse or severe weakness/lethargy
- Vomiting large amounts of blood (or severe blood loss of any kind)
- Difficulty breathing
- Pain or distress
- Diarrhea, especially if it has blood
Tip: If you can, take a picture of your dog’s vomit to show to your vet. It may help them to narrow down the list of possible causes.
Why is There Blood In Your Dog’s Vomit?
The blood in your dog’s vomit may have come from their digestive tract, including the stomach, esophagus, or small intestines. It can also originate from a bleed in the mouth, nose, or lungs when blood is swallowed and then vomited back up.
Any sort of injury or disease that causes inflammation to these body systems can cause hematemesis, as well as certain toxins or conditions that cause problems with blood clotting.
Some of the most common causes for vomiting blood include:
- Infections (bacterial and viral e.g canine parvovirus)
- Repetitive and prolonged vomiting
- Traumatic injury to the digestive tract, mouth, nose, or respiratory tract
- HGE (hemorrhagic gastroenteritis), a medical condition causing a sudden onset of bloody diarrhea and vomiting
- Gastrointestinal foreign body (swallowing items they shouldn’t like a skewer or corn cob)
- Stomach ulcers
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Toxins such as rat bait or certain medications (NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories)
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Conditions that affect blood clotting (coagulopathy)
- Snake bites
Because these causes are so varied and can range from mild to life-threatening, it’s important that you seek veterinary attention even if you only notice a small amount of blood in your dog’s vomit.
How to Find Out if Your Dog’s Blood in Vomit is Serious?
A veterinarian will likely ask you some of the following questions to help work out why your pup is vomiting blood. Though these questions can be a little unpleasant, they can really help your vet get to the bottom of the problem:
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- What did the vomit/blood in the vomit look like?
- How much blood was present in the vomit?
- What color was the blood in the vomit (bright red, dark brown etc.)?
- Was there an even mixture of red in the vomit, or was it limited to streaks of blood?
- How many times has your dog vomited/vomited blood and when did it start?
- Has your dog shown any other signs of illness (e.g lethargy, diarrhea)?
- Could your dog have had access to anything toxic such as rat bait or medications?
- Is your dog likely to have chewed up or swallowed any inedible items?
These questions may vary depending on your dog’s medical history and their unique situation.
What Will my Veterinarian Do?
Your veterinarian will start by taking a thorough medical history and checking your dog over carefully. They will then determine which diagnostic tests they need to run to find out why your dog is vomiting blood. These diagnostic tests may include:
- Blood tests including blood clotting (coagulation) tests
- Testing for infectious diseases such as canine parvovirus (CPV)
- Urine or fecal tests
- X-rays (radiographs)
- Abdominal ultrasound
What Should My Dog Eat After Throwing Up Blood?
Always follow your veterinarian’s instructions closely as they may vary depending on the underlying cause. In some cases, your pup may need to withhold food and water for a short period of time. When it is time to feed your pup, small, frequent meals are usually recommended of a highly-digestible and low-fat dog food. Your vet will have specific foods available at their clinic, specially designed for patients recovering from vomiting and other digestive issues, or will be able to recommend one. Boiled chicken breast (without any skin) is another common recommendation your vet may suggest to feed your pup when they’re recovering.
What are the Treatment Options?
Once your veterinarian has determined the reason why your dog is vomiting blood, they will recommend the best treatment options for your pup. These options may include:
- Medication to help protect the gut and prevent further vomiting or diarrhea
- Pain relief
- Anti-parasite treatment
- Dietary management
However, some of the more serious causes may require your dog to stay in hospital for more intensive treatment including:
- Placing your dog on a drip if they are dehydrated or in shock (intravenous fluid therapy)
- Blood transfusions if there has been significant blood loss
- Surgery to remove a foreign object from your dog’s gut
How Much Will It Cost?
The cost of veterinary care will vary greatly depending on the underlying cause and severity of your dog’s condition. It could range from $150 to over $2,000 depending on the situation. Your veterinarian will discuss their plan of action including diagnostic tests and likely treatment options for your dog first to give you a rough estimate of costs.
Dog Owner’s FAQ with Dr. Joanna Woodnutt
- What if my dog is vomiting blood but acting normal?
Read our article: “Help – my dog is vomiting blood but acting normal“.
- Are there any home remedies that can help? How can I help my dog to feel better?
If your dog is vomiting blood you should always seek advice from your veterinarian before attempting any home remedies or treatments. Your vet may be able to give you advice over the phone or will recommend bringing your dog in for an exam.
- What does blood in my dog’s vomit look like?
Blood may appear as fresh bright red blood, blood clots, or dark red digested blood that resembles coffee grounds. Blood may be mixed into the vomit so it appears red or pink or might be separate as streaks or clots.
- What if my dog is vomiting blood and mucus at the same time?
Vomiting blood and mucus can be caused by inflammation or ulceration of the gut lining by conditions such as ulcers or canine parvovirus.
- What if my dog is vomiting and pooping blood at the same time?
If your dog has blood in their vomit and feces you need to seek veterinary attention. Common causes may include infection (such as canine parvovirus), gastrointestinal foreign bodies, IBD, stomach ulcers, and HGE (hemorrhagic gastroenteritis).
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Disclaimer: This website's content is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult with your veterinarian to determine the best course of action. Read More.