What to Know About Your Dog’s Stool

Kevin Gardner

Canine maladies

It is never a pleasant experience when a member of one’s family gets sick. It can get even worse when the cause of the illness is unknown to the rest of the family. When the family pet gets sick, it can be even harder on the family as the cause and symptoms can both be terrifying and unnoticed due to not recognizing them. One of the most frightening symptoms a canine companion can have is a bloody stool, which can be caused by a number of different maladies.

Types of Blood

There are, in fact, multiple types of blood that can appear in a dog’s stool. One is called hematochezia, which is a bright red blood. This type of bleeding occurs in the lower digestive tract and the colon. This can be caused by ailments like toxins, colitis, parasites, and inflammatory bowel disease. Melena is a type of dark, sticky, and tarry stool that appears almost jelly-like. This type of blood has been digested or swallowed, which indicates a problem in the upper digestive tract. In order to check for melena, the dog’s owner is required to wipe the dog’s stool on a paper towel before checking if the color of the stool is reddish. Like with hematochezia, this can be caused by parasites, but there are also many other causes of this like ulcers, tumors, hormonal imbalances, and liver disease.

Time to wait

If bloody stool is the only symptom that a dog has, it is suggested that the dog be watched for twenty-four hours by his human family, though younger dogs should be taken to a vet immediately. It is also suggested that the dog does not eat for twelve to twenty-four hours before being reintroduced to a bland diet. If the dog begins to have more symptoms, like vomiting, lack of appetite, and continued blood in the stool, one should seek the advice of a vet immediately. Additionally, if the dog does not cease excreting bloody stool after the twenty-four hours, even if no other symptoms are seen, a vet visit is still needed.


Some of the causes of blood in dog stool are diseases like inflammatory bowel disease, colitis, and liver disease. These can range in terms of seriousness and needed treatments. One such ailment is called the parvovirus. Parvovirus is a common disease that is fatal to dogs if it is not treated early on. Parvovirus causes bloody diarrhea along with lethargy and bloating. It can be treated with medication and there is a vaccine that new dog owners can apply to their companions.


Another potential cause of bloody stool in dogs is parasites and hookworms in particular are a common cause. Hookworms are a type of parasite that can travel through the bloodstream to the lungs before being coughed up and swallowed to make its way to the small intestine. A hookworm infection is easily passed from one animal to another. The larvae can pass through the skin to infect the animal. A dog can also be infected by ingesting infected fecal matter and the eggs inside it. Most treatments for hookworms, as well as many other types of parasites, involve giving the infected animal anti-parasite medications.

Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis

Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis is an infection that is most recognized by vomiting and large amounts of bloody diarrhea. This infection is most common in small and toy breeds like French poodles, miniature schnauzers, and Yorkshire terriers. It is unfortunate to say, but the exact cause of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis is not known as of this time. Theories involving the cause range from stress to ingesting non-food items to allergic reactions.


Colitis is another potential cause for a dog’s bloody stool. Colitis is an inflammation or irritation of the colon or large intestine. There are a number of potential causes of this ailment, including, but not limited to: stress, bacterial infection, bowel cancer, parasites, and pancreatitis. Dogs with colitis may, on top of having bloody stool, straining to defecate, have a loss of appetite, and general lethargy. Depending on the severity of the ailment, an infected dog may be hospitalized for treatment or, if it is less severe, simply be given medications and instructions for the owners to follow.


There are a few simple ways to minimize the chance a dog could develop an illness. Keeping the dog’s bowl clean and refreshing the water often is a good start, along with ensuring the dog doesn’t ingest any excrement. Also, minimizing the amount of human food or items from the household garbage that a dog eats would help to lessen the chances of an infection.

It is never easy and always scary when a member of the family is sick, perhaps especially so when it is the family’s canine companion. When a dog is defecating bloody stool, it is especially understandable to be worried as there are many ailments, some of which are quite serious, that causes that symptom. That is why, prior to seeking professional advice, all symptoms most be noted so that a vet can best help the ailing canine.