What is Difficult Defecation and Blood in Stool?
Difficult defecation and blood in stool are both common in dogs and almost all dogs have had at least one bout of dyschezia or hematochezia in their lifetime. However, if your dog is constantly having trouble defecating or has bright red blood in his stool often, you should call your veterinarian and make an appointment. If you ever notice that your dog has black stool that looks like tar, that is a medical emergency and you need to take your dog to the veterinarian or animal hospital as soon as possible.
Difficult defecation (dyschezia) and blood in stool (hematochezia) are caused by rectal, anal, colon, or intestinal disease. There are many individual causes of each type of dyschezia or hematochezia, Dyschezia alone can be caused by a variety of illnesses and conditions from constipation to cancer. Hematochezia can be a symptom of something minor, such as hemorrhoids or something more serious like cancer. These are not diseases or disorders on their own; they are symptoms of an underlying disease or disorder.
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Symptoms of Difficult Defecation and Blood in Stool in Dogs
The symptoms of difficult defecation (dyschezia) and blood in stool (hematochezia) will vary depending on the area that is affected, such as the rectum, anus, colon, and intestinal tract. These are general symptoms so your dog may have one or more depending on the problem:
- Large amount of bowel movements compared to normal
- Passing stool more often (more than four times a day)
- Weight loss
- Increase in appetite
- Red spotted feces
- Excessive gas and stomach noises (i.e. gurgling, rumbling)
- Swollen abdomen
- Difficulty in passing feces (i.e. straining)
- Howling or crying when trying to pass feces
- Swellings in the anal area
- Feces in hair by anal area
- Outer intestinal disease
Causes of Difficult Defecation and Blood in Stool in Dogs
The causes depend on the area that is involved, which are the rectum, anal area, colon, and the outer intestinal area. Each have their own set of causes:
- Physical wounds, fractures, skin injuries (surrounding anus)
- Foreign body obstruction (in rectum)
- Bowel impactions
- Anal sac infections
- Bacterial infections
- Narrowing of the anus
- Colon stricture
- Foreign body obstruction (in colon)
- Parasite infection
- Inflammatory bowel disorder
- Bacterial infections
Outer Intestinal Disease
- Trauma in hind end
- Prostate disease
- Perineal hernia
- Perianal fistula
- Bacterial infections
Diagnosis of Difficult Defecation and Blood in Stool in Dogs
The first thing your veterinarian will do is give your dog a thorough physical examination including body temperature, weight, blood pressure, and heart rate. The veterinarian will also need to do a rectal examination which may require sedation if your dog is in a lot of pain. You will need to provide your veterinarian with your dog’s medical history including any recent injury or illness, immunizations, any medications your dog is currently or was previously on, changes in diet or behavior, what symptoms you have noticed, when they started, and whether they have gotten worse. The veterinarian will then need to run some tests such as a complete blood count (CBC), stool sample examination, blood chemistry panel, coagulation test, urinalysis, colonoscopy, and digital radiographs (x-rays) of the abdomen. He may also need to do further tests such as an ultrasound, CT scan, and maybe an MRI.
Treatment of Difficult Defecation and Blood in Stool in Dogs
Your veterinarian will treat your dog for the symptoms of dyschezia or hematochezia as well as the underlying disorder or disease. Each of these will include their own treatment.
Some of the problems, such as injuries, impactions, foreign body, hernia, and fistula can be treated there in the office immediately or may require a minor operation that only takes a short time. With these cases, your dog will normally be back home with you that evening. The veterinarian will probably prescribe antibiotics and anti-inflammatories.
Infections will be treated with antibiotics and possibly IV fluids if your dog is dehydrated. Other issues, such as polyps, major obstructions, and anal or colon stricture will require treatment or surgery and a short hospital stay. Your dog should be home within 24 to 48 hours. If your dog has cancer, he may require surgery, chemotherapy, and possibly radiation treatments.
Recovery of Difficult Defecation and Blood in Stool in Dogs
For the best chance of a successful recovery, you need to follow the veterinarian’s instructions and give all prescribed medications as they are directed. You should watch your dog for any changes in behavior or if the condition seems to be getting worse. Most likely, the veterinarian will recommend a new diet for your dog depending on the cause of the dyschezia or hematochezia and it is important to follow this recommendation for the health of your dog. You should also try to keep your dog free of stress and offer plenty of exercise. It may also be necessary to keep track of the number of times your dog defecates for several days to make sure everything is working right. It is also essential that you bring your dog back to the veterinarian for the follow-up examination to be sure the treatments are working as they should. At this time, the veterinarian may give you further instructions or medications if he feels the original treatment is not working as prescribed.
Difficult Defecation and Blood in Stool Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
got annual rabies shots and since then has had black tarry stools and no appetite and lethargic
Sometimes a dog may have a reaction to a vaccination which may include symptoms of vomiting, diarrhoea, skin irritation (especially at injection site), loss of appetite and fever; black tarry stool isn’t a normal reaction to rabies vaccination, if it has been present for more than a day I would recommend visiting your Veterinarian as there are other causes for black tarry stool including infections, poisoning, foreign bodies and tumours. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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