What is Vomiting Blood?
Vomiting on occasion is normal for dogs, but if there is blood present, it is considered to be abnormal, and should be taken seriously. Blood in vomit could be an obvious bright red or dark and coagulated, resembling coffee grounds. There may be only specks of blood or a large amount. There could also be foam or mucus in the vomit.
It is possible for your dog to throw up blood but otherwise act normal. Your pet could also exhibit additional symptoms like diarrhea, fever, and blood in their stool. Dark stools are common in many dogs, so a dark color does not automatically signify blood. To determine the presence of blood in pitch-black, tarry stools, you may put the feces on a paper towel and look for a red color to leach out.
If the blood in the vomit is bright red, especially if there are just specks of blood, your dog may not be throwing up blood at all. You may first check that they do not have a cut or sore in their mouth or other dental problems that may cause blood to combine with their vomit. There is also the possibility that the source of the blood is not gastrointestinal, but in fact, is being ingested from somewhere else (like the respiratory tract) and then regurgitated. There is not always an accompanying symptom of this issue, but coughing, sneezing, and nosebleeds could all occur if this is the case. Possible causes of a dog vomiting blood include:
- Gastrointestinal ulcers
- Medications, like NSAIDs
- Foreign object ingestion
- Poison or toxins
- Coagulopathy (blood-clotting disorders)
- Autoimmune disorders
- Irritable bowel syndrome
Depending on the cause, vomiting blood in dogs is a moderate-to-severe issue, and a vet should be consulted.
Why Vomiting Blood Occurs in Dogs
There are many reasons why a dog may vomit blood, but the most common are related to ulcers, ingestion, blood clotting disorders, kidney injury or disease, and gastrointestinal cancer.
Stomach and intestinal ulcers are acid-induced injuries resulting from the disruption of the mucosa membrane. These kinds of ulcers can be caused by liver disease, neoplasia (abnormal tissue growth), and NSAIDs.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s) are typically prescribed for pain and inflammation (for example, aspirin). Disruption of the gastrointestinal function is one of the most common side effects, so make sure your vet knows if your dog has a history of vomiting, diarrhea, liver or kidney disease. Tell your vet about all medications your dog is taking and be sure not to combine more than one NSAID.
Foreign objects are relatively uncommon as the cause of vomiting blood, though it is often one of the first things a pet owner considers. Toxic substances can harm the gastrointestinal tract, organs, central nervous system, and affect blood-clotting ability.
Illness & Injury
Another cause of vomiting blood is coagulopathy, or blood clotting disorder. While it does not have to be a result of any physical trauma, it can result from injury or medical procedures. There will usually be concurrent symptoms, like nosebleeds or accumulation of blood in body cavities or the skin (small red or purple spots).
Injuries, improper surgical procedures, and illnesses (such as liver and kidney disease) can cause a dog to vomit blood. If a medical issue leads to an infection, it may also result in bloody vomit and would need to be treated as well. Cancerous tumors in the stomach, esophagus, skin, and elsewhere are important to consider as possible causes of vomiting blood.
What to do if your Dog is Vomiting Blood
If your dog is vomiting blood, consult your vet. Depending on the circumstances and the patient’s medical history, the vet may want to see your pet right away. The more information you can provide the vet about your dog, the better. Medical history, medications, exposure to toxins or foreign objects, behaviors, and information about their general health (eating and digestion) can give vital clues to the cause.
The vet will run blood tests to check for coagulopathy, anemia, high levels of white blood cells (indicative of infection), and other diseases, like liver and kidney disease. A urinalysis may also be completed. At this point, if there is not severe blood loss and the vet is confident of the cause, they may start medical therapy immediately.
If the cause is still unknown or the patient has not improved after medical treatment, further diagnostics will likely be performed. The vet may then complete an ultrasound and X-rays to check for masses and ulcers. If a cause can still not be determined, a gastroduodenoscopy can be performed to determine the locations and operability of ulcers and tumors. Exploratory surgery will be the next recommendation if the cause is still unknown.
Ensuring the patient is hydrated will be the vet’s first treatment, and this may include intravenous fluids and electrolytes. The vet may also prescribe antiemetics (anti-nausea and anti-vomiting medication).
If NSAIDs are suspected, they should be discontinued immediately. If an ulcer is determined to be the cause, the vet will prescribe antacids. He or she will use activated charcoal if poison or an overdose is suspected. In case of an infection, the vet will either prescribe antibiotics for a bacterial infection or treat the symptoms for a viral infection. Surgery may be required for foreign objects, tumors, and internal injuries. Chemotherapy may be recommended for gastrointestinal cancer. For dogs with autoimmune issues, a strict diet recommended by the vet will help avoid allergens in food.
There are no appropriate home remedies for a dog vomiting blood unless explicitly recommended by a vet. Even if there is a small amount of blood or the issue does not otherwise seem that serious, it is still worth contacting your vet to ensure it is not something life-threatening.
Prevention of Vomiting Blood
There are several steps pet owners may take to lessen the chance of their dog vomiting blood, starting with routine checkups and preventative care to test and treat parasites, and inoculate for viruses.
Regular screening for diseases can help diagnose a potential cause of vomiting blood before it produces any symptoms. If your dog suffers from a disease, disorder, or illness, treating and managing the issue properly will help decrease the likelihood your dog will vomit blood. If your dog likes to chew and swallow objects, foods, or liquids, secure these in a cabinet, closet or drawer (anywhere that is inaccessible to your pet).
Cost of Vomiting Blood
Depending on the cause of the issue, vomiting of blood can cost anywhere from $300 to over $3500. If stomach ulcers are determined to be the cause, for example, the average cost would be $2200. An intestinal obstruction from eating a foreign object costs an average of $3000.
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Vomiting Blood Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
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My dog has been on metronidazole and a steroid for months. She just started throwing up the last two weeks and hardly eats. She threw up today and there was two tiny little blood clot looking things in it.
Dec. 20, 2020
Dr. Sara O. DVM
Hello, Vomiting blood is never a good thing and he really needs to see your vet. Steroids can cause GI ulcers which can cause your dog to vomit blood. It would be best for your dog to see your vet. They can start him on medications to help with his vomiting blood. Good Luck.
Dec. 21, 2020
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My dog has thrown up about 6 times since 12 am and it’s around 6 pm now. I’m not sure if this is an emergency or a case of him ingesting something he shouldn’t have
Sept. 27, 2020
Dr. Michele K. DVM
Thank you for your question. I am sorry for the delay, this platform is not set up for urgent emails. If he is still vomiting, it would be a good idea to have him seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine him and give him medications to stop the vomiting, if needed.
Oct. 10, 2020
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