First Walk is on Us!

✓ GPS tracked walks
✓ Activity reports
✓ On-demand walkers
Book FREE Walk

Jump to Section

What is Coughing Up Blood?

It is alarming to watch your dog cough up blood, and there are several reasons he may be doing do.  The underlying causes of coughing up blood can be severe and life-threatening.  It is important to determine the cause and seek treatment as soon as possible.  Some of the causes of coughing up blood include:

  • Tuberculosis
  • Pulmonary vascular disease
  • Hematemesis

Blood that is coughed up is usually associated with the lungs and respiratory system, but you may also see your dog vomit up blood with a cough.

Book First Walk Free!

Why Coughing Up Blood Occurs in Dogs

Passing blood, either through a respiratory cough or by vomiting can point to a serious medical condition.

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection affecting the respiratory systems.  It is spread through inhalation and can pass from people to dogs.  In advanced stages, your dog will show signs of jaundice and will cough up blood.  The disease mostly affects young dogs who have not yet built up healthy immune systems as well as dogs with suppressed immune systems.  

Pulmonary Vascular Disease

Pulmonary vascular disease encompasses several potential conditions where blood can be passed into airways and coughed up.  Heart disease associated with blood clots may cause your dog to cough up blood whereas a heartworm infection can push blood into the airways.  Pulmonary hypertension, or high blood pressure, can develop when the arteries are narrowed or blocked, leading to coughing and spitting up blood from the lungs.  

Hematemesis

Unlike blood that is spat up from the lungs, blood that originates in the digestive tract and is vomited up is associated with hematemesis.  Afflictions of the stomach and esophagus may cause blood to be vomited up, such as stomach ulcers or possibly gastric cancer.  Gastric cancer more commonly affects dogs 8 to 10 years of age or older.

What to do if your Dog is Coughing Up Blood

If you notice your dog is coughing up blood, either from his lungs or in vomit, you should seek immediate medical assistance to rule out an infection, such as tuberculosis.  Tuberculosis, in its advanced stage, can be fatal and will result in death.  Unfortunately, tuberculosis is not usually treated, and dogs are euthanized for public safety.

Your veterinarian will ask you a serious of health questions concerning your dog, including any contact with humans or other animals that might have tuberculosis.  Tuberculosis is usually confirmed post-mortem, so diagnosis is made based on exposure to the bacteria.  

If tuberculosis, which is rarely seen in dogs, is ruled out your veterinarian will run blood work to determine if your dog is suffering from heartworm disease.  An X-ray of the chest may also show an enlarged heart and can predict the possibility of complications related to the treatment of heartworms.  

An injectable drug is administered after confirming your dog is suffering from heartworm disease, and you veterinarian will develop an injection schedule according to your dog’s condition.  Antibiotics are also usually given to treat secondary infections caused by bacteria inside the heartworms.  The medication will kill the heartworms within a few days of treatment and as they break up the worm fragments will be carried by the bloodstream to the lungs where they are eventually reabsorbed into the body.  

It is essential to keep your as calm as possible for the first month, post-treatment, and not be allowed to exercise.  You must follow your veterinarian’s strict instructions and return for a follow-up injection to kill the “baby heartworms,” known as microfilariae, to prevent a new heartworm cycle.  

Your dog may be vomiting up blood for a number of reasons.  Your veterinarian will ask you when you first noticed the symptoms as well as the color and quantity of the blood.  You will also need to give your vet a full medical history including any medications your dog has taken or chemical exposures.  Other symptoms, such as an accompanying fever, diarrhea, or shock will also help the veterinarian diagnosis the reason your dog is vomiting up blood.  Treatment for hematemesis will depend on the cause of the bloody vomit.  

A significant loss of blood will require a blood or plasma transfusions and well as fluid therapy to balance shock or dehydration symptoms.  Chronic occurrences where small amounts of blood are vomited up may indicate ulcers or gastritis, and your veterinarian will treat your dog with antacids to help manage the condition while developing a plan to treat the underlying condition.

Prevention of Coughing Up Blood

The underlying causes of coughing up blood are vastly different, and prevention of each of these possible conditions should be a regular part of your dog’s healthy lifestyle.  Preventing bacterial infections, such as tuberculosis, requires reducing your dog’s potential exposure to the disease.  You must keep your dog away from any member of your family or another person who is known or suspected to have tuberculosis.  Additionally, do not allow your dog to feed on the carcass of dead animals, both wild or livestock, as animal remains may be infected with the bacteria.  

Some pulmonary vascular diseases, like hypertension, cannot be easily prevented, but a healthy diet and exercise can help keep your dog trim and possibly prevent plaque from building up in his arteries.  Conversely, heartworm disease is a preventable condition through the use of medication.  

Unfortunately, you may not be able to prevent some of the diseases associated with hematemesis, such as gastric cancers.  However, with a healthy diet designed specifically for your dog based on his food intolerances and sensitivities, you can help prevent ulcers and gastritis. 

Cost of Coughing Up Blood

The cost of treating your dog for coughing up blood will depend on the underlying medical condition.  For example, treatment for vomiting up blood associated with hematemesis can cost around $1,100 whereas treatment for heartworms can be around $1,500.

Coughing Up Blood Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Brea
Australian Shepherd
13 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Coughing, blood, bronchitis
Coughing, blood
Coughing

Medication Used

metronidazole
Metronidazole, prednisone

I have a 13 year old Aussie, she has been very healthy up until the last 6 weeks where she developed a dry hacking cough. I had her to my vet and after x-rays, blood work and examination she was diagnosed with chronic Bronchitis. She has been on prednisone, flagell and another medication for bronchial dialator for about 2 weeks now with slight improvement. Today she has coughed up blood clots, a bit of foamy sputum and obvious blood clots (about 2 Tbls spoon size) she doesn’t always cough up blood or sputum but I have found 4 spots where she has coughed it up. I find her energy level much lower today as well. She also vomited up her food today, no blood seen in vomit. I am watching her closely as want to get a sputum sample for my vet (haven’t spoke to her yet as it’s Sunday) just think it might help with further diagnoses. Is blood common with bronchitis? What can I expect for recovery. One other thing, I’ve noticed she started snoring about 6 months ago, could this Illness be caused by heart disease?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1402 Recommendations
I would think that if Brea had heart disease, that would have been something that your veterinarian would have found on her examination. Coughing up blood is not common with bronchitis, and may be a sign of a larger problem. Collecting a sample of the sputum is a good idea, as they may be able to send that sample off for culture or pathology. Without knowing more about Brea, I'm not able to really add much to what your veterinarian has been doing, unfortunately, but having a recheck tomorrow would be a good idea, as this sounds like a new development.

Add a comment to Brea's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Gidget
Chihuahua dachshund
14 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Coughed up blood
Weight gain
Heavy Breathing

My 14 year old chihuahua dachshund mixed dog coughed up a fairly small amount of blood earlier today and I am trying to figure out if this will lead to a serious issue or if it is just a temporary thing.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1402 Recommendations
Coughing up blood is never normal, and in a 14 year old dog can be concerning. It would be a good idea to have Gidget seen by a veterinarian, and they may want to take some x-rays to see what is going on with her. I hope that all goes well for her.

Add a comment to Gidget's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Tiger
Yorkshire Terrier
9 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

coughing blood
Vomiting

My dog threw up, then I noticed a little bit of blood, then about 5 minutes later he threw up again and there was blood in his vomit. Then about 10 minutes later I went to check on him and noticed a little bit of blood on his blanket and I think it is from him coughing. What is happening to him?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1402 Recommendations
Many things may be the cause of his signs, whether it is a GI upset or a problem with his lungs. Since I cannot see him, it would be best to have him examined by a veterinarian, as they can assess his health, determine what might be going on with him, and offer treatment for him. I hope that he is okay.

Add a comment to Tiger's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Killian
American Pit Bull Terrier
11 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Bloody

My dog is waking me up with licking sounds, which is not unusual and he will be licking various areas on his legs but there is a lot of blood showing up everywhere he is licking. I’ve noticed that it is coming from his mouth and it is bright red and in a pretty large quantity. He coughs sometimes and as of lately will throw up his food. Blood just happened.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2985 Recommendations
There are numerous different possible sources of the blood which may include dental disorders, respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract etc… without examining Killian I cannot determine the origin of the blood. It is possible that the blood is coming from the mouth; try to look inside his mouth to see if you can see any abnormalities or issues which may cause bleeding. If you cannot find a cause, visit your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Add a comment to Killian's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Athena
Pit bull
4 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Coughing up blood
vomiting food

I have a 4 year old pit bull who has never had any medical issues. Over night she started coughing up moderate amounts of bright red blood. I decided to just monitor her more closely because I am a nurse and she didn’t appear to be in any distress. She can go up to 18 hours with no coughing up blood, but without reason she will start again. I tried to feed her and she threw up afterwards. There was no blood in her vomit. A few hours later she proceeded to cough up more blood but a scant amount. This has been going on 2 days. Is this likely something that will resolve on its own?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1402 Recommendations
Coughing up blood is not normal for dogs, and isn't something to 'wait and see'. Athena may have a bacterial or fungal infection, or cancer. I don't think that it will resolve on her own, and she should be seen by a veterinarian for an examination and evaluation of her heart and lungs. They'll be able to look at her and determine any testing or treatment that might be necessary. I hope that she is okay.

Add a comment to Athena's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Neville
Great Pyrenees
2 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Coughing up blood
Coughing,

My 2 year old Pyrenees was neutered yesterday and got some vaccinations. I know it is normal to see coughing after a surgery but he is coughing up blood and is making me nervous. Is this normal?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2985 Recommendations
A few specks of blood may occur during coughing if a capillary ruptures which may lead to a little speck or two; however if you are noticing a large quantity of blood or you are generally concerned you should visit your Veterinarian to be on the safe side. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Add a comment to Neville's experience

Was this experience helpful?