Any sight of blood coming from your beloved canine can make you fear the worst. If your dog is vomiting blood, should you rush him to a veterinary clinic? Are there steps you should take to give him emergency treatment? How serious is it? Read on to find out what you need to do when Fido throws up and there’s blood in his vomit.
What steps should you take if there’s blood in your dog’s vomit?
Firstly, do not panic. A small amount of blood in your dog’s vomit may only be a minor problem that does not need emergency medical attention; it could be serious, yes, but you should calmly assess the situation.
This involves looking closely at his vomit. If there’s only a thin thread or a few streaks or flecks of red blood, there may be bleeding anywhere between his mouth and his upper gastrointestinal tract. Bright or light red blood usually means the bleeding is somewhere in his mouth or throat; a darker red means the bleeding is somewhere in his gastrointestinal tract. If the vomit has both mucus and blood, the problem is in his stomach or upper intestines.
If he’s still eating and more or less behaving normally, and if the vomiting, his digestive upset, and the bleeding do not get worse, you can continue observing him and giving him home treatments for a day. You should take him to the vet if his condition does not improve or becomes worse the next day.
If the blood is larger in volume and the vomit is very red, or if the vomit is mixed with something that resembles coffee grounds that has a fecal smell, you should take him to the vet or emergency clinic right away.
Vomit that is red means there is heavy bleeding; dark brown or black blood that looks like ground coffee is dried and partially digested blood and indicates that there has been internal bleeding for quite some time
Secondly, take note of your dog’s behavior. If Fido still behaves like his usual self after vomiting, then the presence of a small amount of blood may be nothing serious. But if he seems lethargic, refuses to eat, looks very sick, or is in pain, he should see a vet immediately even if there are only a few drops or a single streak of blood and no matter what time it is.
If your dog is also bleeding from his nose or mouth, if there’s also blood in his stool, or if you notice any bruising, he may have ingested something poisonous and needs emergency medical attention.
What may be causing the blood in your dog’s vomit?
If you do take Fido to the vet, he may perform some diagnostic tests in addition to a physical examination in order to identify the cause of the bleeding and to determine how much blood has been lost. You can expect any of the following tests to be performed on your dog:
- Complete blood cell count, or CBC
- Fecal analysis, to look for parasites
- X-rays, to look for possible internal injuries or abnormal growths
- Clotting profile, which determines your pet’s ability to form blood clots
- Internal organ function screening, to check normal organ functions
The presence of blood in your dog’s vomit can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Chronic or severe vomiting
- Trauma to the gastrointestinal tract, which may have been caused by ingestion of something sharp (such as bones)
- Ingestion of foreign objects
- Bacterial or viral infection, such as parvovirus
- Stomach inflammation
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Respiratory tract disorder
- Ingestion or exposure to a toxic substance, such as from certain plants or heavy metals
- Stomach ulcers, which are typically associated with certain medications, including aspirin, steroids, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Clotting disorders, which may also be caused by ingestion of rat poison
- Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, which is characterized by severe blood vomiting and bloody diarrhea
- Hormonal imbalance, kidney disease, liver disease, pancreatitis, or another underlying condition
The course of treatment will depend on what is causing the vomiting and bleeding, and may include:
- Intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration and for nourishment
- Anti-vomiting or anti-nausea medication
- Gastric protectants
Dog Vomiting Blood - Final Thoughts
Blood in your dog’s vomit can be very alarming. The best course of action is to take your pet to the vet or emergency clinic as soon as possible so a proper diagnosis can be done and the appropriate treatment be given.
Pay close attention to what the vomit and blood look like; collect a sample and show it to your vet. A small amount of blood that may be in the form of flecks or streaks is usually not too serious. You should still call your vet and describe his symptoms and he can let you know if you should observe Fido for a few hours or if you need to bring him to the clinic soon. Typically, you will have to withhold food and water until your dog’s condition improves; again, confirm with your vet how your best bud can be given treatment at home.
But if the vomiting gets worse or does not improve within 24 hours, if the rate or volume of blood loss increases, or if there are other symptoms, the condition can become life-threatening if it’s not addressed immediately. There may be serious damage to his organs, which could prove fatal if left untreated.
If the vomiting with blood occurs in the middle of the night and your dog seems otherwise fine, you still need to check in with your vet first thing in the morning. Always err on the side of caution. It’s better to seek veterinary care and find out it’s nothing serious, than to wait it out and risk serious complications.