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Why Is My Dog Throwing Up Blood?

Medically reviewed byCrystal Leung

Vomiting is unpleasant for your pet, and for you as the pet parent who has to clean it up. But when vomit contains blood, it sparks a whole new level of concern.

So, is vomiting blood serious? What causes bloody vomiting in dogs?

Here are some important things to know.

What Does It Mean If a Dog Throws Up Blood?

The technical term for vomiting blood is “hematemesis.” Depending on where the bleeding originates, episodes may include fresh, bright red blood or partially digested blood that looks more like coffee grounds. Dark, tarry-looking stools may also be present and can be a sign of intestinal bleeding. 

Note: Descriptions like these, or taking a picture with your phone, may help your veterinarian narrow down the underlying cause.

The blood may come from the stomach, esophagus (tube between the mouth and stomach), or upper intestines (the part of the intestinal tract connected to the stomach). Also, occasionally, severe bleeding in the mouth or respiratory tract may lead to a dog swallowing blood and then vomiting it back up. Bleeding may be caused by anything that leads to an injury, irritation, or inflammation of the lining of these organs. 

So which came first? The bleeding or the vomiting?

Either is possible. Vomiting may lead to irritation of the digestive tract, which in turn leads to bleeding. Or, significant bleeding may fill the stomach, triggering vomiting. It’s also possible the bleeding and vomiting may both be triggered by one single factor (such as certain viral infections).

What Causes Bloody Vomit?

In dogs, some of the most common causes of throwing up blood include:

  • Prolonged or severe vomiting of any cause that is left untreated. Significant vomiting can result in inflammation of the stomach, upper intestines, or esophagus that may lead to bleeding.

  • Intestinal parasites (such as Giardia)

  • Viral or bacterial infections.

  • Inflammatory conditions such as IBD.

  • An obstruction in the digestive tract, caused by eating a foreign object (a sock, toy, or corn cob, for example) that got stuck in the stomach or intestines.

  • Swallowing something sharp (like a bone or stick).

  • Acute hemorrhagic diarrhea syndrome (AHDS), a serious condition that involves sudden, severe bloody vomiting and/or diarrhea.

  • Stomach ulcers, which may be caused by digestive conditions, whole-body diseases that increase acid in the stomach (such as kidney disease or liver failure), or as a side effect of certain medications.

  • Toxins.

  • Problems with blood clotting.

  • Traumatic injuries.

  • Cancer.

SEE ALSO: How Can I Tell If My Dog Is Sick?

Is a Dog Vomiting Blood an Emergency?

Any time you see blood in your dog’s vomit, it’s best to seek veterinary care.

Even if it’s just a small spot of blood and your dog is otherwise acting fine, it’s still a good idea to at least call your vet’s office (or an emergency vet office, if after hours). A little blood right now may quickly turn into more blood later, depending on what’s causing the bleeding. And your vet may have recommendations you can implement right away.

If any of these circumstances apply to your pup, emergency treatment should be sought:

  • There’s a large amount of blood in their vomit (or stool/diarrhea). Severe blood loss can be fatal or require a blood transfusion.
  • Your dog is a puppy. Young pups are prone to infections (such as Parvovirus), which can be severe and get worse quickly (and may be fatal).
  • Your dog is ill with other symptoms—such as a fever, listlessness, diarrhea, loss of appetite, inability to keep down food and water, etc.—in addition to throwing up blood.

You may also be wondering if there are any home remedies for a dog vomiting blood. In short, the answer is no.If your dog is throwing up blood, it's crucial to seek veterinary attention immediately. While there might be some home remedies that could provide temporary relief for minor issues, throwing up blood is a serious symptom that requires professional evaluation. Home remedies are not a substitute for proper medical care in such cases.

However, before heading to the vet, you can take some steps to make your dog more comfortable:

  • Hydration: Ensure your dog has access to fresh water. You may also offer ice cubes if your dog is unable to drink water.

  • Rest: Allow your dog to rest in a quiet, comfortable place.

  • Monitor: Keep an eye on your dog's symptoms and behavior, including any changes in vomiting frequency or consistency.

  • Dietary Management: Withhold food for a few hours to allow your dog's stomach to settle. Then gradually reintroduce bland, easily digestible food such as boiled chicken and rice, in small amounts.

  • Keep Calm: Dogs can pick up on their owners' stress, which can exacerbate their condition. Stay calm to help keep your dog calm as well.

Once you've taken these initial steps, contact your veterinarian immediately or seek emergency veterinary care. They will be able to diagnose the underlying cause of the vomiting and provide appropriate treatment. Remember, while home remedies can sometimes offer temporary relief for minor issues, they are not a substitute for professional veterinary care, especially in cases of serious symptoms like vomiting blood.

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How Is a Dog Throwing Up Blood Treated?

Treatment usually includes two phases: Supportive care and addressing the underlying cause.

Supportive Care

Depending on a pet’s needs, supportive care may include some or all of the following treatments:

  • Antacids.
  • Stomach lining protectants.
  • Anti-nausea medicines.
  • Fluid therapy for dehydration and electrolyte balance.
  • A bland diet (such as plain boiled chicken and white rice) or prescription diet for sensitive stomachs.
  • If severe, a blood transfusion (this is less common and only for severe blood loss).

Note: Never give medications to your pet without checking with your vet first, as some are harmful to pets.

Supportive care helps a dog feel better and slows down the bleeding and vomiting. And in severe cases, a blood transfusion will save a dog’s life no matter what caused the bloody vomiting in the first place.

SEE ALSO: Why Is My Dog Not Eating or Drinking?

Addressing the underlying cause 

It’s also important to address the underlying cause, as this will direct treatment decisions and help to prevent reoccurrence.

Diagnostic testing is important for figuring out what caused a dog to throw up blood. Tests may include:

  • A fecal check for parasites.

  • Blood tests and a urinalysis.

  • Blood clotting tests.

  • Infectious disease testing.

  • X-rays.

  • Ultrasound.

  • If indicated, exploratory surgeries, biopsies, or other testing.

After a physical exam to check for abdominal pain and other issues and diagnostic testing, a veterinarian can begin treatment that is targeted at curing or managing any underlying diseases. 

For example, a dog with intestinal worms will receive parasite treatment, and a dog with an intestinal obstruction will most likely need surgery.

Depending on the severity of a dog’s condition, they may be sent home with oral medications, or they may need to be hospitalized for some time. The treatment plan of many pets falls somewhere in the middle.

Can Vomiting Blood Be Prevented?

Unfortunately, some causes of throwing up blood develop with age or genetics, and cannot be prevented. However, many common causes of bloody vomit are preventable. Here’s how:

  • Keep your dog up to date on routine care, including vaccinations and parasite prevention.

  • Prevent access to toxins (especially rat/mouse poisons), human and veterinary medications (especially NSAIDs such as ibuprofen), chemicals, and certain plants/flowers.

  • Feed a healthy, balanced dog food and avoid table scraps like bones.

Bloody vomit can be scary. And certain underlying causes are serious, especially if left untreated. Fortunately, seeking prompt veterinary care will help to provide the best treatment, prevent complications, and get a pup feeling better as soon as possible.

Can a dog be treated for

SEE ALSO: Allergies in Dogs

About the Author

Crystal Leung
Crystal Leung
Medical Director
Dr. Crystal Leung grew up in Hong Kong. As a teenager, she found her calling while volunteering at the local SPCA. As there was no veterinary school in her hometown, she traveled to Australia to attend the University of Melbourne. Upon graduation, Dr. Leung packed her bags again and moved to the United States. She completed a one-year rotating internship in Small Animal Medicine and Surgery at a specialty hospital in Washington D.C. before moving to New York City to practice. Prior to joining Bond Vet, Dr. Leung had practiced at a busy general and urgent care practice in the Upper East Side for several years. Her professional interests include dermatology, internal medicine, and emergency medicine. Dr. Leung lives with her fiancé and their two rescue cats, Sesame and Taro, in Long Island. During her free time, she enjoys cooking, swimming, practicing yoga, music, watching movies, building Legos, and exploring the food scene in her neighborhood.

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