How dangerous it is when a dog threw up blood?
Do dogs vomit blood before death? Or dog vomit blood is just a sign of an underlying disease? How worried should you be when you see your Fido vomiting blood?
Responsible dog owners know that seeing a dog throwing up some blood is beyond stressful, but how dangerous this occurrence is?
To help you understand better what causes a dog to throw up blood you will find up to 15 different reasons why your Fido might vomit blood.
Common reasons for vomiting blood include:
- Irritation to the oesophagus Parvovirus infection if your dog ate a foreign object
- Bacterial infection in dog’s stomach or due to internal trauma following an accident
Some underlying reasons are emergencies, others are less worrisome, so let’s find out more about what to do if your dog vomits blood so you can be fully prepared.
My Dog Threw Up Blood – What Does It Mean? Why Is My Dog Vomiting Blood?
Vomiting in dogs is often caused by dietary indiscretion, which pretty much means that some dogs will eat anything out of curiosity, poor judgment, and sometimes hunger. This includes trash, causing them to feel sick and vomit.
Usually, it is nothing to worry about, and the dog recovers uneventfully and quickly at home. However, vomiting can sometimes signify a more serious underlying condition, especially if there is blood in the vomit.
In this article, we will take a look at the signs and causes of vomiting blood in dogs, as well as how it is diagnosed.
We will also take you through, step-by-step what you should do if your dog throws up blood and if it is common for a dog to vomit blood before death.
When your dog vomits blood, it is always a good idea to get an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible, so they can start ruling out the underlying causes and treating your dog’s problem.
Clinical Signs Of Dogs Throwing Up Blood
Hopefully, you aren’t too queasy, as this article will talk a lot about blood! As we mentioned above, vomiting blood can be caused by a variety of problems and diseases.
Common clinical signs which might be associated with a dog throwing up blood include:
- Reduced appetite
- Tummy pain
- Vomiting food/ water /bile (green/yellow)
- Blackish feces (melena)
Before we jump to list common reasons why do dogs threw up blood, let’s explain what blood in dogs looks like. This way you will be ready to react much better.
What Does The Blood Look Like?
You might not know that the blood that a dog might threw up can appear in different forms and even colors!
For example, it might be fresh blood that looks bright red or blood clots that are red clumps.
Digested blood is darker in color and looks more like coffee grounds. The color and appearance of the blood can help to figure out which part of the digestive tract it came from.
The blood can appear in spots or streaks mixed with vomited food or froth, or when there is a lot present a pool of blood.
The fresh red blood that has quite a lot of mucus present, is most likely from the mouth, esophagus (the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach), or stomach.
It may be an indication that one of these areas is ulcerated and actively bleeding. Very dark red blood usually means that the blood has been partially digested in the stomach.
Blood that is nearly black and looks similar to coffee grounds, usually means that it is older and has been digested. (1)
The appearance of blood in the vomit can help you (and your vet) to figure out where the problem has started.
Quick Tip: It is a good idea to note the appearance of the blood, take a photo and take a sample to your vet if possible.
What Can Cause Your Dog To Threw Up Blood?
Some of the underlying reasons for your dog throwing up blood are less worrisome, such as a cut in his mouth from chewing a bone or a lose tooth.
However, blood in the vomit might also be a sign of other more severe conditions such as:
- Internal trauma
- Stomach ulcer
- A foreign object
- Internal bleeding
- Parvovirus infection
- Or a problem with the dog’s blood clotting process
Let’s take a look at some of the causes in a little more detail.
1. Chewing Bones
Any sharp object that your dog chews has the possibility to cause trauma and bleeding in his mouth or oesophagus (the tube which carries the food from the mouth to the stomach).
The most common object that causes this problem is bones.
Lots of owners give their dogs bones, without knowing the dangers that they can cause, such as obstructions or trauma. Bones can easily break or splinter into sharp bits when the dog chews them.
These sharp edges can scratch, tear or puncture the soft tissues in the mouth or further down the gastrointestinal tract. This can cause inflammation and bleeding.
The dog starts to feel sore and nauseous which leads to vomiting the blood (and sometimes the shards of bone get vomited too, which can do further damage when they are vomited back up again).
If a sharp piece of bone punctures a hole in the gastrointestinal tract it could lead to a very serious condition called peritonitis, which is infection and inflammation of the peritoneum lining of the abdomen.
2. Tooth Infection
An infected or lose tooth will often bleed a little, as the gums will be sore and sensitive.
The tooth pain may cause the dog to have a decreased appetite, dribble (with some blood) or even vomit.
Although a tooth problem usually only causes a little bit of blood to be present in the dog’s vomit or saliva.
3. Eating A Foreign Object
Lots of dogs are guilty of loving to play with things they shouldn’t, such as socks, batteries kid’s toys and coins, or whatever they happen to find in the home.
Puppies are more likely to try to eat these objects, but some older dogs never grow out of the habit of wanting to gulp down something they shouldn’t.
Foreign objects can cause irritation and bleeding of the oesophagus, stomach, and intestines if they pass that far. They can also cause an intestinal obstruction.
4. Dietary Indiscretion
One of the most common reasons for vomiting in dogs is due to dietary indiscretion.
This is a fancy way of saying, that lots of dogs will try to eat something they shouldn’t (usually from the garbage)which then makes them sick.
It is similar to a dog eating a foreign object, but in this case, the cause of vomiting blood is more food-based. This usually causes acute gastritis or sudden inflammation of the stomach.
Common causes include spoiled or rotten food, cat litter, plants, household cleaning products, and human food leftovers.
It usually starts with the dog being lethargic, vomiting, and having a decreased appetite (anorexia).
Further signs may include blood in the vomit or feces, dehydration, and tummy pain.
It is often self-limiting, with the dog recovering within 24 hours. However, sometimes veterinary treatment is required especially if dehydration is present, or a lot of hazardous material has been eaten.
5. Parvovirus Infection
Canine Parvovirus (CPV) is a very contagious viral infection of dogs. It mainly affects puppies less than 6 months of age, and every vet dreads it, as it is often fatal.
This severe infection usually causes vomiting, often bloody vomit, lethargy, fever, decreased appetite, and bloody diarrhea.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for this deadly viral infection, and the dog needs intensive supportive treatment as soon as possible to try to recover from this disease.
6. Rat Poison Ingestion
A common type of rat poison which if ingested by dogs can cause vomiting blood is the anticoagulant group of rodenticides.
However, there are lots of different types of rat and mouse poisons available, which contain different active ingredients and come in different forms (pellets, blocks, powder or liquids) and colors (often blue, green, or pink).
The effects of the rat poison on the dog which eats it depends on the active ingredient and how much the dog has eaten.
Anticoagulant rat poison may include the following ingredients: warfarin, brodifacoum, bromadiolone, chlorophacinone, coumatetralyl, or diphacinone.
These kill pests by preventing the synthesis of vitamin K, an essential part of the normal blood clotting process. This leads to spontaneous and uncontrolled bleeding.
Signs may not appear until 5-7 days after the dog has eaten the poison.
Clinical signs may include dullness, reluctance to exercise, coughing or vomiting blood, bruising on the skin, pale gums and eventually collapse and death.
Hookworms are officially known as Ancylostoma caninum, is a common type of worm which lives in a dog’s intestines.
These small worms attach to the lining of the intestines, causing damage and sucking the dog’s blood.
Adult dogs can get infected from sniffing or licking infected dog poop or soil, and puppies can become infected as the immature worms pass from their mum’s milk.
A high number of these parasites can cause a dog to vomit blood, and have bloody diarrhea, weight loss, and weakness.
8. Blood Clotting Disorders
There are a lot of different blood clotting disorders that can affect dogs, too many to mention here.
Two of the most common types, which may cause your dog to vomit blood as one of the possible clinical signs, include:
Thrombocytopenia is a condition where there is a reduced level of platelets in the blood.
Platelets are necessary for the blood to clot to stop bleeding. Thrombocytopenia may be present at birth (congenital) or develop later in the dog’s life.
If it develops later in the dog’s life it has been linked to certain drugs, cancer, vaccinations or immune system disease.
Von Willebrand Disease
Von Willebrand disease is caused by a deficiency of a certain protein (vWF) needed for platelets to bind together in the normal blood clotting process. This can lead to excessive and uncontrolled bleeding following an injury or surgery.
Some breeds of dogs are predisposed including German Shepherds and Dobermans.
9. Stomach Ulcer
A stomach ulcer is a sore, deep, painful area on the inner lining of the stomach. They are difficult to heal, as the stomach is full of acid to help digest food, which can constantly irritate the sensitive ulcer.
A canine stomach ulcer can cause regular vomiting, often with blood, as well as decreased appetite and signs of tummy pain.
The dog vomit often looks like coffee grounds, as the ulcer is actively bleeding but the blood has been digested.
Canine ulcers are often caused by medications such as NSAID painkillers, steroids or aspirin, but may also be caused by mast cell tumors or liver disease.
10. Antifreeze Ingestion
Antifreeze is the liquid you might spray on your car windshield to de-ice it during winter. This clear fluid is extremely poisonous but is very sweet smelling which entices cats and dogs to want to eat it.
Over 72 hours the dog may vomit, have internal bleeding then eventually develop kidney failure.
It is a deadly toxin, that needs vet treatment as soon as possible. (2)
11. Haemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE)
HGE is a sudden onset of severe vomiting (often with blood) and bright red bloody diarrhea. It most commonly affects small or toy-breed dogs.
The underlying cause is still unknown, but it has been linked to food allergies, toxin ingestion, stress, and pancreatitis.
Bloody vomit may also be a sign of certain cancers in dogs, especially stomach or oesophageal cancers.
A dog with lung cancer may also have bloody vomit, as the blood may be coughed up, then swallowed before vomiting. These cancers are much more likely to affect older dogs.
13. Road Traffic Accident
If a dog suffers a big trauma such as being involved in a road traffic accident, it usually causes internal injuries or internal bleeding.
As well as possible injuries to the bones, a big trauma may cause clinical signs such as tummy pain, vomiting (with blood), and shock (pale gums, fast heart rate, collapse).
14. Bacterial Infection
Another possible reason for a dog to vomit blood includes a bacterial infection in the gastrointestinal tract.
Commonly known as food poisoning in humans, the same bacteria can cause serious bacterial infections in dogs.
The most common bacteria to cause tummy problems to include salmonella, E. coli, Campylobacter and Clostridia bacteria. The dog would usually have a decreased appetite, lethargy and diarrhea too.
15. Chronic Gastritis
Long term stomach inflammation also known as chronic gastritis may also cause a dog to throw up blood. Usually, it would start with intermittent vomiting, with small streaks of blood.
If the vomiting continues this leads to further damage to the stomach lining and therefore more blood in the vomit over time.
The inflammation and irritation of the stomach lining can be caused by many different conditions including:
- Autoimmune diseases
- Metabolic or endocrine diseases (Addison’s disease, diabetes)
- Chronic stress
- Hyper-acidic syndromes
- Food allergies
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Neurological disease
- Kidney failure
Other Health Conditions
Unfortunately, the possible causes of dogs throwing up blood are a very long list of conditions.
Further diseases and conditions of the intestines, liver, kidneys, spleen, and pancreas may also cause a dog to throw up blood.
That is why this can be a very confusing problem to try to figure out by yourself, you really need the help of your veterinarian for this one.
It can be a confusing and frightening experience if you suddenly find your dog vomiting blood.
To help you and your dog, we have compiled a quick checklist for what you should do:
What To Do If Your Dog Vomits Blood?
- Collect a sample
- Call your vet
- Check for poison ingestion
- Bring the packaging
- Go to the vet clinic
The color and appearance of the vomit can often help to figure out where the bleeding is coming from.
It can be very helpful to call your vet, let them know what happened and let them know you are on your way to the clinic, that way that can have a veterinarian or veterinary nurse ready and waiting to admit your pooch
Have a quick look around to check if your dog ingested anything strange e.g. rat poison, household cleaner, foreign objects. Often your dog will have left behind some evidence!
If your dog did eat something toxic or poisonous, it is really important to bring the packaging or write down the active ingredient names. If your veterinarian has all the information straight away it is much easier to diagnose and rapidly treat your dog.
Tell your vet about your dog’s recent clinical signs and behavior.
Allow your vet to carry out diagnostic tests if necessary, to find the underlying cause.
Discuss the treatment options with your vet, and follow the recommended treatment plan.
Diagnosing Bloody Vomit In Dogs
The long list of possible underlying causes combined with the fact that many are very serious and life-threatening for your pooch means that you should seek veterinary help quickly if you notice your dog vomiting blood.
The diagnosis may be straightforward if you have witnessed your dog eat something he shouldn’t such as garbage or rat poison.
However, most of the time your dog will throw up blood suddenly without many clues as to how it all started.
The vet will take a history and perform a full clinical examination. Most dogs will require blood tests to check their red blood cell and platelet levels, organ health screening, and blood clotting profiles.
X-rays and ultrasound scans may be completed to check for foreign objects, cancer or internal bleeding.
Urine screens and fecal analysis may be completed to check for internal bleeding, infections or parasites.
An endoscopy (tiny camera passed via the mouth) may be recommended to fully visualize the inside of the stomach and intestines.
The treatment required when a dog vomits blood varies a lot depending on the underlying cause.
Sometimes treatment can continue at home if the cause has been diagnosed and the vomiting is mild with only traces of blood.
The dog will often be sent home with several prescription medications to heal stomach ulcers and reduce the amount of stomach acid being produced, to reduce nausea, and improve the dog’s appetite.
In other cases, the dog may require intensive treatment and hospitalization in the vet clinic to save its life.
In cases of internal bleeding, then the dog may require emergency treatment for haemorrhage or shock, including intravenous fluids and blood transfusions.
Internal bleeding may require emergency surgery to find and stop the source of the bleeding. Surgery will also be required for foreign body removal or intestinal obstruction.
If a clotting disorder is causing your dog to vomit blood, then your dog may need a blood transfusion to give him extra red blood cells or platelets, vitamin K injections, or immunosuppressant’s (e.g. corticosteroids) to stop immune disorders- it all depends on what the underlying condition is!
It can be a scary experience if your dog starts throwing up blood.
Try to stay calm, collect a sample and make your way to your veterinary clinic.
Your veterinarian will be able to work out if your dog has a serious life-threatening condition or something less worrisome like a small cut in his mouth causing the bleeding.
It really isn’t something you should try to diagnose or treat at home, as there are so many possible underlying causes.
Now, let’s see what are the most common questions that dog owners want answers to when it comes to dogs throwing up blood.
Frequently Asked Questions On Why Dogs Throw Up Blood
1. Can Stress Cause A Dog To Throw Up Blood?
Dogs are sensitive beings, but so far there are no records that they may be throwing up blood due to stress-related reactions.
Stress and anxiety can push dogs to have an upset stomach, resulting in diarrhea or vomiting, but there should not be blood.
Know that if your dog ingests something harmful (or toxic and poisonous) vomiting and diarrhea will be the first symptoms.
2. Why Do Dogs Vomit Blood Before Death?
If a dog is affected by some serious condition there might be throwing up blood or some blood traces as a dog apart.
This isn’t something that is commonly seen in dying dogs, as common signs that a dog is reaching the final stage include pain, discomfort, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, dull eye, and strong body odor.
All in all, scenes where a dog threw up blood and died are really rare.
If you witnessed this and you want to know why did my dog throw up blood and died, make sure that you have an honest talk with your veterinarian.
3. My Dog Threw Up Blood Once – What Should I Do?
If your dog threw up blood once you should take it seriously. When this happens it is best to reach your veterinarian and ask for advice.
What if your dog just threw up a small spot of blood, but he acts normal? You should still immediately contact your veterinarian.
No dog should ever throw up any blood (unless you know that Fido suffers from hematemesis) and doing so is a clear indicator of underlying medical issues.
4. Can A Dog Survive Throwing Up Blood?
A dog might vomit blood before death, but a dog throwing up blood doesn’t necessarily mean that the dog is in a deadly situation.
Vomiting blood in dogs (small amounts) might indicate conditions such as kidney disease, cancer, or liver disease.
Whenever you notice your dog vomiting blood contact your veterinarian.
5. What Does Blood Look Like In Dog Vomit?
When a dog vomits blood it will usually be the size of a coffee ground. The color should be dark red, dark brown, or black.
The color will always depend on how severe the situation is.
Dogs might vomit blood when there is a serious health condition, or an intestinal blockage, or when something is causing internal bleeding.