Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Bloody diarrhea in dogs: Is this an emergency?

Sometimes dogs can be under the weather and experience uncomfortable illnesses and symptoms such as diarrhea. Our Argyle vets discuss diarrhea and what may be causing bloody diarrhea in your dog as well as when you should call an emergency vet. 

Diarrhea in Dogs

Diarrhea is one of the most common conditions that our vets at Argyle Veterinary Hospital diagnose and treat in the Argyle area.

Intestinal discomfort occurs easily and is one of the main reasons behind mild cases of diarrhea. More often than not this intestinal distress is directly tied to food: whether it be an adverse reaction to your dog eating a small amount of something that doesn't agree with them, such as table scraps, or from switching to a new brand of dog food that isn't right for them.

If your dog is suffering from a more severe case of diarrhea then you will require medical attention.  Diarrhea is a common condition as there are many possible causes behind the symptoms. 

Common Causes of Diarrhea in Dogs

Some of the most common reason behind diarrhea in dogs are:

  • Stress or anxiety
  • Change in diet or treats
  • Eating garbage or spoiled food
  • Ingestion of foreign objects such as toys, bones, and fabric
  • Ingesting toxins or poisons
  • Viral infections such as parvovirus, distemper or coronavirus
  • Parasites - roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, Coccidia, or Giardia
  • Bacterial infections - such as salmonella
  • Pancreatitis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Colitis
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Intestinal cancer
  • Medications such as antibiotics

With such a wide array of potential causes, it can be difficult to know when your dog's symptoms are reasons to contact your vet, read on for advice to help you decide when a case of diarrhea is worth a visit to the doctor.

Causes of Blood in the Stool

If you become aware of your dog's stool showing signs of blood you should consider calling your vet to have them examined.  There are two types of bloody stool to look out for when your dog is experiencing diarrhea

Hematochezia results from bleeding in the lower digestive tract or colon.  It is bright red in color and indicates certain potential medical complications.

Melena is blood that has been digested or swallowed.  This dark, sticky, almost jelly-like blood indicates that a serious problem in your dog's upper digestive tract might be to blame.

Occasional streaks of blood aren't usually a sign to be concerned with. However, if the bleeding is consistently present or if the bleeding is in larger amounts, that is a clear indicator of a much bigger problem, such as a viral or bacterial infection, parvovirus, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, and even cancer.

If you find blood in your dog's stool, in any amount, it is always best to contact your vet, describing exactly what you have observed will allow your vet to give you detailed instructions on what you should be watching for, and if it makes sense for your dog to come in for a visit based on their symptoms.

When You Should Be Concerned About Diarrhea in Dogs

If your dog has a single episode of diarrhea and is otherwise acting normal, it is likely not a cause for concern. Monitor your dog's bowel movements to see if things clear up. More than 2 episodes could indicate a problem, so it's a good idea to call your vet if your canine companion has two or more bouts of diarrhea.

If your dog is straining to pass a stool but only passing small amounts of watery diarrhea, they could be experiencing a painful blockage due to the ingestion of a foreign object such as a toy. This is a very serious concern and needs veterinary attention right away, contact your vet or head to the nearest emergency animal hospital for care.

Recurring bouts of diarrhea over a short period of time could be a sign of a very serious health issue, particularly if your dog is very old, very young, or has a compromised immune system. Infections such as parvovirus are extremely serious, contagious, and life-threatening. Contact your vet right away if your dog is experiencing repeated episodes of diarrhea.

Dogs showing other symptoms as well as diarrhea should also be seen by a vet as soon as possible. If your dog has any of the following symptoms contact your vet right away to make an appointment:

  • Blood in stool
  • Unusual drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Weakness
  • Signs of dehydration (Sunken dry-looking eyes, dry nose, or dry, sticky gums)

If your dog is displaying any symptoms that cause you concern, contact your veterinarian. Your vet will let you know whether your pet's symptoms indicate that an examination is necessary.

Treatment For Diarrhea in Dogs

Human medications are toxic to dogs and can cause serious reactions and even death, do not ever give them to your dog. 

Fasting for a day or two can help to relieve your dog if they have only experienced a couple of soft stools at most. 

A diet consisting of food such as plain white rice with some chicken and some canned plain pumpkin (not pie filling) may help to relieve your dog's stomach issues. Once your dog feels better gradually reintroduce their regular food.

Some other food options that you may want to try to help soothe your dog's upset tummy could include natural yogurt, probiotics, peeled boiled potatoes, cottage cheese, egg with no oil added, specially formulated dog foods, and medications prescribed by your vet.

When it comes to your dog's health it is usually best to err on the side of caution. By taking your dog in for an examination you give your vet the opportunity to determine the underlying cause of your dog's diarrhea and recommend the most effective treatment.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog experiencing diarrhea? Contact our Argyle vets to have your dog diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

Looking for a new veterinarian in Argyle?

Contact (940) 464-3231