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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.

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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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Coughing Up Blood Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Pit Bull

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Five Months

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Coughing, Lethargic

hi, my puppy has been somewhat lethargic today & has been coughing pretty regularly. he is still playful when awake, but i noticed a few splatters of blood after he coughed. he isn’t finished with his shots due to COVID complications with his vet. I looked online which wasn’t a good idea so I just want to check with a vet.

Aug. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. It is possible that your puppy has a viral disease or a tracheitis, but if he is coughing blood, that does need to be seen by a veterinarian. They will be able to examine him, assess his cardiovascular system and listen to his lungs, and see what treatment might need to happen for him. Most veterinarians are seeing patients for preventive care and unexpected illness, and covid-19 should not be a reason that you cannot have him seen. I hope that all goes well for him.

Aug. 29, 2020

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Four Years

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Coughing

Coughing up bright red blood. Blood every where. After the last cough of alot of blood. No more blood some cough with a little saliva. Gums were very pale, now pink is coming back.

Aug. 20, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question, I'm sorry that your dog is having this problem. It is possible that she has a fungal infection, a pneumonia, or a problem with her heart or lungs. That is definitely not normal, and it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian as soon as you can. I don't think that that is something that is just going to resolve on its own, and it would be best to try to find out what the cause of that was so that you can have it treated. I hope that everything goes well for her and she is okay.

Aug. 21, 2020

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Shepard/husky

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Two Years

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Light Pink Blood/Mucus Vomit

My dog puked up some light pinky vomit and it seemed mucusy, should I be concerned?

Aug. 15, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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Hello- Thank you for your question. Vomiting with blood present can be cause for concern. It indicates that there is significant irritation in the stomach or esophagus. I would recommend taking her to your veterinarian to have an exam performed and consider having some blood work and x-rays taken to attempt to figure out the underlying cause. They can also administer anti-emetics to help settle her stomach. I hope she feels better soon.

Aug. 15, 2020

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Old English Bulldogge

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One Year

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Vomiting Mucus And Blood

Hello our dog just threw up her dinner in along with some mucus with red blood stains I think she ate a rubber band she threw up along with her food

July 31, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Ellen M. DVM

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Hello, thank you for your question. I am sorry to hear that your dog vomited! Without examining your dog, it's hard for me to know how serious this might be. We do recommend having your dog examined by the veterinarian right away if you ever see blood in their vomit or stool. Hopefully it's just some mild irritation from the rubber band, but I recommend calling your veterinarian and letting them know what is going on. I hope that your dog starts feeling better soon! Have a great weekend!

July 31, 2020

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Cough Up Blood

Bright red blood coughed up

July 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. Your pup may have a parasite, a lung infection, or an infectious disease. Coughing up blood is concerning, and it would be best to have him/her seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. They will be able to see what might be the cause of this, and get treatment. I hope that all goes well.

July 28, 2020

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Minnie

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Pug

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Shaking
Loss Of Balance
Loss Of Appetite
Coughing Up Blood
Wheezing
Loss Of Mass

My 17-year-old pug recently died from what seemed to be pneumonia, but we think it was caused by bacteria. She was wheezing, shaking, and couldn't walk correctly, she also walked into walls and down the stairs without hesitation. She would get lost outside and wouldn't pee. She wouldn't eat or drink and, just recently, coughed up a terrifying amount of blood before she sadly passed just minutes later.

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Monty

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Smooth coat collie

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9 Years

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Coughed Up Blood

My dog has just coughed. Then I noticed spots of blood on the bed he didn't throw up he coughed. I'm panicking now. It's the first time this has happened but he's panting now

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zack

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Chihuahua

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8 Years

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Coughing

dog is randomly coughing like he is forcefully blowing out air in a cough but sometimes i find blood on his blanket and when he coughs its usually for a couple of seconds following by other coughs

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Uma

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Siberian Husky

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3 Years

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Mild severity

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Coughing Up Blood
Coughing Up Blood & Wheezing

My Dog Uma has been coughing a lot for 2 days a few times she’s coughed up blood. She is not acting like her self very sluggish and wheezing ever so often. She does have heart worms and we doing the slow kill method.

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Kiki

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Yorkie/malteese

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13 Years

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Throwing Up With Blood In It

My dog is a 13 yr. Old Yorkateese, this morning she threw up and it was like phlem with quite a bit of bloody streaks in it. It scared me so I called my vet. Shes acting normal now that she thrown up! What do you think?

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