Your dog is a constant, loving companion and member of the family. As a dog owner, you probably worry about your pet’s health as much as your own. You want them to be comfortable and live a long, happy life, so when they are ill, you suffer too. Even a doggy tummy ache can cause you concern. An injury can bring you to tears.
No health symptom is more disturbing than blood in your dog’s stool. If you spot this issue, you may be instantly panicked. After all, blood in the stool is a serious symptom for humans. And while in some instances, it is a sign of serious illness, in others, it indicates a temporary and treatable condition. You can have a calmer reaction to this symptom if you familiarize yourself with some common causes of blood in the stool. Anytime you see blood, you should call your vet and accurately describe the stool. The vet may well want to see your pet for a complete examination.
If you notice a small amount of blood in an apparently healthy dog’s stool, you probably don’t need to worry. You should save the stool sample, however, in case your vet wants to test it. Also, you should take a look at other recent stools if possible. If your dog hasn’t passed a number of bloody stools, is energetic and is eating and drinking well, you probably have little to worry about. Still, let your vet make that determination.
However, if your dog lacks energy, has no appetite or has passed a large quantity of blood, you need to take them to the vet immediately. Do take a stool sample with you then as well. It will help the vet make a speedier diagnosis.
Types of Bloody Stools
When calling your vet, you should be prepared to accurately describe the blood in your pet’s stool. There are two types: hematochezia and melena. Hematochezia is bright red and lets the vet know that the bleeding is occurring in the lower digestive tract or colon. Only certain conditions cause this type of bleeding, so your vet can instantly eliminate some issues.
The other type of blood is melena, which results in a dark, tarry stool that may look a bit like blackberry jelly. This type of presentation indicates bleeding from the upper digestive tract. If you are unsure about your dog’s dark stool, you can wipe a bit on a paper towel. If the stain color is reddish, it indicates upper digestive tract bleeding.
Conditions Causing Hematochezia
Bright red blood looks scary, but it sometimes indicates relatively mild conditions. Some of these health problems are:
- Colitis (colon inflammation)
- Trauma (cuts or tears)
- Anal impactions or infections
The above conditions usually respond well to treatment and can be cured with proper procedures and medications. They do need to be addressed, however. Ignoring them can lead to more serious symptoms and a number of complications.
Hematochezia does occasionally indicate a real health problem. More serious conditions that can cause bright red blood in the stool are parvovirus, cancer, bacterial infections, and hemorrhagic gastroenteritis. All of these conditions require prompt treatment by a veterinarian as they can be life-threatening.
Conditions Causing Melena
No one enjoys studying dog feces for signs of disease, but it’s important that you do so. You need to pay attention to any variation in your dog’s stools because melena is easier to miss than hematochezia. These dark, tarry stools may be caused by the following conditions:
- Kidney failure
- Liver disease
- Clotting disorders
- Reactions to medications
- Addison’s disease
Melena is often a reason for concern because it shows that the blood has been through the digestive process, which means it wasn’t simply caused by straining or a cut. A dog with melena may be vomiting, have diarrhea, be lethargic and have blood in the urine as well as the stool. They may exhibit weakness and rapid weight loss.
Treatment for Hematochezia
If your dog has upper digestive system bleeding, it can be treated in several ways. Slight trauma, perhaps from straining, will simply heal on its own. A little blood in one stool may just be an anomaly.
Colitis can cause your dog to have loose stools that contain mucus as well as blood. Your vet may treat your dog’s colitis by ordering a day or two of fasting followed by a change in diet. They may also recommend increasing fiber in your dog’s diet through supplements. In some cases, your vet will prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs to treat the condition. Dogs with colitis have an excellent prognosis, although you will have to continuously watch what they eat.
Dogs can suffer from anal sac disease. This occurs when their anal sacs clog up and cause such serious dryness that they cannot defecate normally. You may notice them scooting across the floor, emitting an awful odor, biting their behinds and straining to defecate. Straining can cause bleeding. Fortunately, this unpleasant problem is easy to treat. Your or your vet can “express” the glands by gently squeezing them. This action should cure the digestive issue.
Intestinal parasites can really harm your pet, causing them to lose weight and develop poor overall health. Hookworms, tapeworms, and whipworms are just a few of the parasites that can make your pet ill. In many cases, you will be able to spot the worms in your dog’s stool when you spot the blood. Your vet will prescribe medications to rid your dog of these worms. They will also recommend preventative treatments to you so this problem doesn’t happen again.
Treatment for Melena
Treatment for melena will vary widely depending on the disease or condition causing the bleeding. Some treatments are simple and affordable. Others can be quite complicated and expensive. Here are some of the possibilities:
A dog with a stomach ulcer may have a lack of appetite, lose weight, vomit and have a bloody stool. To treat this condition, the vet may prescribe antacid, extra hydration and a change in diet. If the condition is caused by bacteria, the vet will prescribe antibiotics. Most dogs recover nicely from an ulcer in much the same way as a human does.
Adenocarcinoma is a tumor that can cause melena in dogs when it appears in the intestinal tract. Once diagnosed, surgery is the usual treatment prescribed by vets. However, the prognosis for this type of cancer is bleak. It commonly metastasizes, leaving your pet with a short lifespan. However, continued treatment can give your pet more quality time with you.
Liver disease is another serious condition that can cause melena along with a host of other symptoms. If your dog does have this issue, the vet will likely prescribe a special diet, supplements such as SAM-E and medications. If your dog has a cyst, surgery may be necessary. With careful management, your pet can live with liver disease for many years.
When a dog has Addison’s disease, their adrenal glands are not producing enough hormones to adequately control the sugar, salt, and water in their body. Young female dogs are more likely to get this disease than other dogs. These pets often become dehydrated and have digestive issues that can lead to melena. The treatment includes a daily hormone pill or shot and a reduction in stress. The condition can be managed successfully so that your pet can live a normal life.
Any time you spot melena in your dog’s stool, you need to contact your veterinarian. It is a sign of a number of serious conditions.
Blood in your dog’s stool should never be ignored. Both hematochezia and melena can indicate a life-threatening disease or injury. However, many dogs have this symptom due to a treatable condition. The real danger is in ignoring the blood and hoping it goes away on its own.
Sometimes, pet owners fear to call the vet due to the expense involved. Treatments for serious diseases can be expensive. Investing in affordable pet insurance can ease those fears and allow you to seek professional care for your pet whenever necessary. You should never have to deny your dog the care they deserve due to your financial situation. PetInsuranceQuotes.com offers you a variety of plans that provide protection for you and your dog.