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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.

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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

Radar
Weimaraner
14 Years
Critical condition
1 found helpful
Critical condition

Has Symptoms

Bloody stool
fidgety
drooling more than usual
large pupils
In shock
Puking up blood
Loss of energy

Medication Used

Stool Softeners and green beans

Last night, my 14-year-old Weimaraner just died after puking up a large amount of blood. My mother had a meeting that night. So I had to put him in my room. After I let him out I put him downstairs with my father, a routine. After a while, He threw up blood, and we took him outside and he stood for a minute, then flopped over in the grass. He's usually very energetic when outside. Also, a couple of months ago, he had bloody stool due to a mass constricting his colon. We gave him green beans every meal and stool softeners once a day. We had to put him down, but I just really want to know why. The vets couldn't figure it out, and just assumed it was internal bleeding. So, I'm not sure. Please tell me why you think this happened.

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Dixi
Boxer
13 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Bloody flem Dry cough weazy
Drinks alot
Dry Cough

I have a thirteen year old female boxer, she has cancer for the third time. I have decided no more ops due to her age, apart from old age aches and pains, she has gained a cough. In the evenings mainly when she is settled, she seems really flemy and she does big breaths out like she is trying to clear it and occasionally coughs, when she does cough her flem is red. She always goes and drinks a lot after. She is still eating well has a little play time and still wants her walks every day, although a lot shorter now, I know she is not in pain, I know her signs, is she just getting worse with the cancer..

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Ellie
Golden Retriever
11 Years
Critical condition
0 found helpful
Critical condition

Has Symptoms

Coughing

Our dog, Ellie, was 11 years old and a golden/lab mix. We took her to the vet to get her nails clipped. They gave her a rabies shot and a distemper shot. A few days later she was lethargic and just not herself. Four days after the shots Ellie began coughing up blood and clots. All of the vets were closed or closing and the emergency vet hadn't opened yet but we found a vet who would look at her. Vet said may be kennel cough (she hadn't been in a kennel, just at the vet) and prescribed antibiotics and gave a cortisone shot. On our way home she began coughing up blood and clots again this time it wasn't stopping. By the time we got home I had blood all over me and went inside to clean up and she was outside with my husband. A few minutes later I came out and she was on the ground pretty much brain dead. She was still twitching and stuff. Most horrible experience in my life. What could have happened to a normally healthy dog?

I had a similar experience with my dog when he had more than one vaccine at once. He died at 3.5 years of age. I blamed the vaccinations so now I only do the annual rabies vaccine and if you have to do others, you may consider separating them.

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Harry
Pit bull
Two Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Coughing

I have a 2 year old pit bull I adopted from the spca. He is heart worm positive and is being treated for this. I have absolutely no experience with heart worms, but He chose me and I just couldn’t leave him there. He has no other issues and is generally a pretty happy guy! He is active, which I know it should be kept down, but it is localized to the house only. I walk him several times a day. This morning he started coughing for about an hour and I noticed 2 small areas of blood on my bed sheets, maybe a 1/8 teaspoon on each spot. Could this be from the heart worms? Or should I be concerned about something else?

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Kiki
Yorkie/malteese
13 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

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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Uma
Siberian Husky
3 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Coughing up blood & Wheezing
Coughing up blood

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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Chloe
American Eskimo Dog
13 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Spitting up blood

My dog is a 13 year old American eskimo that has been within the past 2 1/2 years been having seizures and possibly one stroke. The seizures have gotten worse and she frequently pees on herself whilst having one I’ve had every test ran but a cat scan on her brain and she was never diagnosed with anything. Aside from her seizures she comes off as completely healthy she’ll go weeks without having one and is still energetic and completely normal. Vets just ask me if I want to put her down out of being a nuisance but I see no reason to when she still seems fairly healthy aside from her seizures. Recently she’s had a really bad cough that has caused her to spit up red mucus which I believe is blood mixed in with her saliva and I still have no answers as to what is wrong with her or how to help her

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Brea
Australian Shepherd
13 Years
Moderate condition
1 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
1610 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.

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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
1610 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.

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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
1610 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.

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Killian
American Pit Bull Terrier
11 Years
Serious condition
1 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
3320 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

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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
1610 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.

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Neville
Great Pyrenees
2 Years
Moderate condition
2 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
3320 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

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