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Puppy With Black Poop: Is It Serious? Vet Shares What to Do

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puppy doing his business on the grass

New puppy owners frequently have questions, some relating to their youngster’s poop. So, it was no surprise to get periodic calls from owners asking if they should be concerned when their puppy had black poop. I would explain the reasons for black feces and how to know when the color could point to a serious condition.

In this article, we’ll help you understand why your puppy could have black poop, signs that it’s serious, and when you need to see your vet.

When is black poop in my puppy a cause for concern?

Usually, black-colored stool means there’s digested blood in the poop, which can point to internal bleeding. If you notice your puppy passing a black stool but it’s firm and has a normal consistency, watch him closely. As long as he doesn’t have other symptoms and the poop returns to a normal color with the next bowel movement, it’s probably nothing to worry about. 

On the other hand, contact your veterinarian immediately if:

  • The stool is watery or tarry
  • Your puppy continues to pass black stools, even if they’re normal
  • Your puppy is vomiting
  • Your puppy has a tender/painful abdomen
  • Your puppy is acting weak or lethargic
  • Your puppy has pale gums
  • You notice bruising

What are the common causes of black poop in puppies?

The main reason you find black poop in puppies is internal bleeding, but it can also occur if your furbaby ingests blood, is on a medication that causes stool discoloration, or eats something black. 

Ingesting blood, perhaps by licking a wound, and eating something black usually results in isolated black poop. If your veterinarian gives your puppy medications that can turn the stool black, he will probably advise you about the potential side effect. 

There are several reasons that puppies can have internal bleeding that causes black poop. 

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1. Internal injury from foreign body

Puppies are notorious for eating just about anything. If your puppy ingests something sharp such as a broken piece of plastic or a pointy stick, it can injure or poke through the stomach and cause bleeding. With foreign body trauma, you may notice:

  • Repeated black stools
black poop on ground
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tender abdomen
  • Lethargy
  • Pale gums

Foreign body injuries are potentially serious and should be seen by a veterinarian. If your puppy has a punctured or lacerated gut, he can lose enough blood to become anemic. The damage to the intestinal tract can also cause secondary infections or peritonitis.

If you suspect your puppy ate a foreign body, you should take him to the veterinarian. He can examine your pooch and take an x-ray or ultrasound to confirm the presence and location of the object. Treatment may include

  • Removal of the foreign body by endoscopy or surgery
  • Antibiotics
  • Fluid therapy
  • Transfusions if your puppy has severe anemia
  • Pain medications or anti-inflammatories

2. Stomach ulcers

When the stomach produces excess acid, it can damage the protective barrier in the stomach or duodenum causing ulceration. Common causes of ulcers in puppies include bacterial infections, eating a toxin such as pesticides or ethylene glycol, and foreign bodies in the stomach. Symptoms of ulceration include:

  • Black, tarry stool
black tarry dog poop on grass
  • Vomiting blood
  • Abdominal pain
  • Hypersalivation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy

Ulcers require veterinary treatment. They can lead to blood loss or perforation, both of which are life-threatening for puppies. When you take your puppy to the clinic, the doctor will examine your pooch and run diagnostic tests including blood tests, fecal screening for occult blood, and endoscopy. 

Treatment for stomach ulcers may include:

  • Drugs like famotidine or cimetidine that block H2 histamine receptors
  • Sucralfate
  • Misoprostol or other prostaglandin analogs
  • Proton pump inhibitors

3. Infections of the stomach or upper intestine

Certain bacteria, fungi, or viruses can cause gastrointestinal infections and bleeding. When this happens, you may notice:

  • Dark, smelly diarrhea 
very dark dog diarrhea 
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy 

If your puppy is showing signs of an infection, you should contact your veterinarian. While some minor viruses may be self-limiting, puppies have weaker immune systems. Prompt treatment improves your youngster’s chances for a rapid, complete recovery. 

To diagnose the source of the infection, your veterinarian will examine your puppy and run diagnostic tests such as fecal cultures and blood work. Depending on the diagnosis, the doctor may treat the infection with

  • Antibiotics or antifungal medications
  • IV fluids
  • Antidiarrheal/antiemetic drugs

4. Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis

Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) causes a sudden onset of bloody diarrhea. When the stomach is also involved, the stool can be dark and tarry. Symptoms of HGE include:

Disclaimer: This content is not a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your vet for health decisions. Learn more.

  • Black or dark red bloody diarrhea that may look like raspberry jam
dog soft stools that looks like jam or jelly
  • Repetitive vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shock

Puppies with HGE become very ill, and they can die if they’re not treated. However, with supportive care, most puppies recover quickly. If you suspect your puppy has HGE, take him to the vet.

When you take your puppy to the vet, he will conduct an examination and run diagnostic tests such as bloodwork, fecal screenings, and imaging tests. Diagnosis is usually based on the symptoms and by ruling out other possibilities. Treatment may involve:

  • IV fluids with electrolytes
  • Antiemetic drugs
  • 24-hour fast followed by a bland diet
  • Probiotics
  • Antibiotics if indicated
  • Sucralfate or other gastrointestinal protectants  
  • Pain killers

5. Post-surgical complications

If you spay your female puppy or she has surgery for a foreign body, and there are complications, she may develop internal bleeding. Possible signs include:

  • Black poop (Similar to this)
  • Fever
  • Vomiting with blood
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy

If you see dark or black stool after your puppy has surgery, contact your veterinarian.  Left untreated, Internal bleeding can cause anemia or death. 

At the clinic, the vet will examine your pooch and take radiographs or an ultrasound to confirm the issue. Your puppy may require corrective surgery to stop the bleeding. Other treatments may include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Antiemetic drugs
  • Pain killers
  • Anti-inflammatory medications

Are home remedies for black poop in puppies effective?

If your puppy has an instance of black feces but no other symptoms, you may be able to try a few things at home. 

 First, think through his recent history. Ask your sefl if there’s anything he may have eaten that turned the poop dark? If so, you can prevent your furbaby from continuing to eat the item, monitor him, and check his poop to see if the color returns to normal.

If you can’t identify anything your puppy ate to turn the poop black, and the stool is firm, you can try fasting him for 1-2 meals, but no more. That will give the digestive tract time to rest and hopefully heal.

However, if the poop continues to be black, contact your veterinarian immediately. Home remedies are not generally effective if the color is caused by internal bleeding. The sooner you seek veterinary care, the better.

What other symptoms should I watch for if my puppy has black poop?

If your puppy has black poop, the following signs indicate trouble:

  • Stool consistency – tarry, soft, or liquid poop 
  • Multiple/continuing black stools
  • Appetite – a decreased or non-existent appetite
  • Attitude – depression or lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Pale gums
  • Excessive drinking/urinating

When you observe any of the additional signs above, it’s time to contact your veterinarian.

When should I seek veterinary attention? 

You should seek veterinary attention if your puppy exhibits the signs listed in the section above. Other reasons to take your puppy to the vet are if your furbaby stops drinking, appears weak, or becomes unresponsive. These are potential signs of shock or serious disease.

What are the veterinary treatment options for puppies with black poop?

Depending on the symptoms and underlying cause of your puppy’s melena, your veterinarian may use the following treatments:

  • Discontinuing any corticosteroids or anti-inflammatory drugs that may irritate the gastrointestinal tract
  • Putting your puppy on a 1-2 meal fast if he’s vomiting
  • Switching your puppy to a bland diet that’s gentle on the digestive system
  •  Giving your puppy medications such as sucralfate and misoprostol to coat the stomach and block acid production
  • Surgical intervention if your puppy has a foreign body, bleeding ulcer, or another condition requiring surgery

Why should I take my puppy’s black poop seriously?

Black poop usually points to bleeding in the upper intestinal tract. Internal bleeding should always be a cause for concern, but it’s usually more serious in puppies because they are vulnerable to disease. 

Young puppies have immature immune systems, so any disease has more potential to cause your fur baby harm. Additionally, young puppies aren’t fully grown. Therefore, their blood volume is less than a mature dog. Blood loss can quickly lead to life-threatening anemia.

Frequently asked questions

Can I treat my puppy’s black poop without my vet’s help?

If your puppy has an isolated case of black poop with normal consistency, and there are no other concerning signs, you may be able to take care of him at home. Try fasting him for 1-2 meals then feed him a bland diet to rest the digestive tract. However, if the black poop continues to occur, or you notice other symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Can black poop in puppies indicate a very serious and potentially fatal condition?

Yes. Black poop often suggests internal bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract. Some causes of bleeding that may be fatal include foreign bodies that injure or puncture the stomach, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, and perforating stomach ulcers.

Related post: Adult Dogs & Black Poop.


  • Dr. Liz Guise, Veterinarian

    Dr. Liz (Elizabeth) Guise graduated from the University of Minnesota with a doctorate in Veterinary Medicine (DVM). She worked as a veterinarian for two years before working for the US Department of Agriculture for 13 years.

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