I Noticed Blood in My Pet's Poop. Should I Be Worried?
If you see signs of blood in your pet's poop, there's no need to panic. But it does mean you should call your veterinarian and schedule an appointment to discuss this new event.
Blood in your pet's stool is an indication of another, underlying problem. Correct diagnosis of the cause will allow prompt treatment.
Questions You Can Expect at Your Office Visit
When you come in for your office visit being prepared to answer these questions will help us zero in on finding the real problem.
- How long has there been blood in your pet's poop?
- Has this ever happened before?
- Does your pet also have diarrhea?
- If so, how long have you noticed the diarrhea?
- Is your pet vomiting?
- Is your pet lethargic?
- Is your pet still eating and drinking?
- Does your pet roam free?
- Do you know of anything your pet ate that he shouldn't have?
How to Correctly Describe the Blood in Your Pet's Poop
While it may be a bit unpleasant, correctly observing and describing the appearance of the blood in your pet's poop helps determine the source of the blood. Bright red blood comes from the animal's lower digestive system, while dark red/black stools indicate an upper digestive problem.
Bright Red Blood in Stools
Hematochezia is the medical term for bright red blood in your pet's stool. It is fresh blood, most likely from the lower intestines, and often from the colon or rectum. Some causes of hematochezia include:
- Parvovirus - A serious virus often found in puppies. Other symptoms of parvo include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Prompt treatment is critical.
- Parasites - The most common cause of blood in stools. A fecal analysis will identify if parasites are present and the proper treatment based on the organism.
- Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis - Usually accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea, and causes large amounts of blood in stools. Dehydration is a danger in this case, and IV fluids and medications are often needed to treat successfully.
- Rectal injuries - These can be caused by your pet eating a sharp object which scrapes the lower intestine during digestion or elimination. Anal gland injuries and rectal polyps can also result in bright red blood deposited on stools.
- Stress - Changes in your pet's routine or household can induce colitis with blood and/or mucus in the loose stools.
Dark Red or Black Blood in Stools
Melena is the medical term for dark red or black/tarry stools. Since it is darker in color, it's often harder to detect. In these cases, the blood source originates higher up the intestinal tract so that by the time the stools are eliminated the blood is almost totally digested. Melena may be caused by:
- Blood clotting disorders - Several conditions can cause clotting disorders, as well as your pet eating rodent poison.
- Use of NSAIDS - Your pet can develop gastric ulcers from extended use of these medications.
- Post-surgery complication - Call your vet immediately if you notice black, tarry stools up to 72 hours after any recent surgery. This could indicate internal bleeding.
- Tumors or cancer - Bleeding tumors or polyps, especially in older pets, can cause dark stools.
- Ingestion of blood - Your pet may lick a bloody wound or have a mouth injury that causes it to swallow blood.
"Blood in your pet's poop indicates an underlying problem, so it's important to get your pet to the #vet as soon as you notice it." TWEET THIS
Diagnosis and Treatment of Bloody Stools
Depending on your description of the bloody poop and your pet's other symptoms and history, certain tests will help us correctly diagnose the cause so we can come up with a treatment plan. Some of the tests may include:
- Fecal analysis - Bring a fresh stool specimen to your appointment. We will visually evaluate the blood, as well as run microscopic and parasitic testing on it.
- X-rays - To check for anything unusual in the abdomen and digestive tract.
- Blood work - A simple blood draw for a complete blood count, differential and chemical screen to test for inflammation or infection.
- Visual and physical exam and palpation - To check for any abnormalities that can be seen or felt.
- Further testing or surgery as needed
As a pet parent, you know your pet best and you know when something isn't quite right. When you see any signs of blood in your pet's poop it's time to call your vet.
At South Boston Animal Hospital we love helping pet families stay healthy and happy. If you have noticed blood in your pet's poop, call right away so we can find the best treatment plan.
About Dr. Natalie Waggener
Dr. Natalie Waggener has 17 years of experience in emergency work and general practice in Rhode Island, Florida and Massachusetts. She has a special interest in dentistry, wellness care and rehabilitation therapy. She is currently licensed in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island.