Bad tummy problems are never any fun. Add blood in the mix and alarm bells should start going off. Find out here why your dog is throwing up blood and what you should do.
Seeing blood in your dog’s vomit is an alarming experience for any pet parent, but we don’t want you to panic!
Hematemesis (hee·muh·teh·muh·suhs) is the umbrella name for the dog's medical condition of vomiting blood. It has many causes along the spectrum. While it is common, hematemesis could signal a serious medical problem that needs to be addressed.
The following chart is to try to diagnose the issue in front of you. It is meant to calm your anxieties and may save you from an unnecessary trip to the emergency clinic in the middle of the night.
Below, you see three options: the wait-and-see approach, wait until morning to contact your vet or take your dog to the emergency clinic NOW.
DISCLAIMER: This chart is not meant to replace or diagnose your official veterinarian. If you have any doubts or questions, immediately call your veterinarian or the emergency clinic.
Keep in mind: The lighter the blood, the lighter the emergency.
The darker the blood, the more chance you need to call your vet NOW!
Dog Vomit Self-Diagnosis Chart
Wait Until Morning
Normal bleeding from daily medication
Medical issues that cause normal bleeding
Recent cut in their mouth?
Mucus with flecks of blood, pink-tinged blood, or bright red mucus
Any other sign of bleeding, such as bruising or stool/diarrhea
Swallowing blood and regurgitating it
If You Need To Go NOW
Take your dog to the emergency veterinarian clinic, which is open 24 hours a day and does not need a scheduled appointment. Ultimately, you should always contact your vet, even if the blood and/or vomit lessens. Describe the blood that you saw and ask if you should come in for tests. Depending on the source/cause of the blood, the veterinarian will know how to heal your dog and if you can continue the recovery at home.
Causes of Hematemesis
Hematemesis in dogs derive from a variety of sources and disorders, including the following:
Ingesting Foreign Object
Your dog might ingest many objects. Vomited blood can derive from a cut in the mouth, a wound in the esophagus, or an ingested toxic chemical. If your dog is choking, use quick home remedies such as removing the object from the opened throat or trying the dog Heimlich maneuver. Call your vet before you induce vomiting.
Vet Solution: Sedate the dog to perform gastrointestinal surgery. Call ASPCA poison control if your dog ingested something poisonous.
Dogs can have an allergic reaction to any dog food due to the ingredients, and do your research before giving human food to your pet as a snack. Allergies can cause bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bloody vomit in extreme situations.
Vet solution: Diagnose your dog’s food allergy with a skin, saliva, or blood test.
Stomach ulcers are extremely painful. They are caused by an excessive amount of stomach acid that erodes the gastrointestinal lining of the stomach. This can cause severe bloody diarrhea or hematemesis that looks like dark coffee grounds, which is a sign of digested blood.
Vet Solution: Prescribe effective medication to reduce stomach acid and treat ulcers. Some medications include Famotidine and Sucralfate.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease resembles stomach ulcers where excessive stomach acid erodes the gastrointestinal lining of the stomach and causes severe pain. It also causes inflammation and swelling. Your dog might also have a pre-existing condition that causes bloody vomit.
Vet solution: Prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Metronidazole, Flagyl, or Sulfasalazine.
Antifreeze, or ethylene glycol, is liquid drainage often used as brake fluid, motor oil, removing wood stains, solvents, and paint. It can be found in the kitchen cabinet and as an automotive radiator coolant. Left untreated for 8+ hours, a dog may develop kidney disease and die. Call your vet!
Vet solution: Send to poison control or prescribe ethanol or fomepizole to flush out the antifreeze.
Tiny parasites like hookworms and heartworms can attach themselves to the dog’s intestinal lining and ingest its nutrients. A significant amount of parasites can cause bloody puke.
Vet Solution: Prescribe a medication with pyrantel pamoate that prevents and controls the parasites in dogs, such as Sentinel and Trifexis.
Leptospirosis from salmonella, campylobacter, or E. coli can result in severe bloody vomiting.
Vet Solution: Send the dog for immediate hospitalization and aggressive treatment. Fluid therapy for dehydration, antiemetic for anti-vomiting, and blood transfusion for hemorrhaging. Prescribe antibiotics, such as Ampicillin, for at least four weeks.
Blood clotting disorder
This can be a pre-existing condition of your dog that causes internal bleeding and throwing up blood. Liver failure, cancer, and ingestion of toxins can cause the dog’s blood clotting ability. Blood clots can cause severe abdominal pain and large amounts of vomited blood.
Vet Solution: Blood or platelet transfusions, but there is no specific treatment.
Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis and other related issues can cause bloody vomit and diarrhea. The cause is bile and mucus buildup that disrupts the intestinal lining. Before taking him to the vet, try to hydrate your pup since he lost an immense loss of water. You can use such digestible products as NaturVet Anti-Diarrhea for Dogs.
Vet Solution: Intravenous fluid therapy.
Bilious vomiting syndrome
A buildup of yellow or green bile can irritate the dog’s gastrointestinal tract and lead to specks of blood in their vomit. This happens if a dog is not fed for a long time.
Vet Solution: Prescribe a medication that improves digestion, such as Metoclopramide, or a medication that protects the stomach lining.
If diagnosed with stomach or esophageal cancer, your dog may experience bloody vomiting, weight loss, and diarrhea.
Vet solution: Critical tests, such as surgical removal, radiation, and chemotherapy.
Canine Parvovirus (CPV) Infection
CPV is a highly contagious viral illness that affects mostly puppies from 6 weeks to 6 months. It can manifest as gastrointestinal or cardiac issues. The resulting dehydration and loss of electrolytes can cause severe bloody vomiting or diarrhea. The survival rate is 70% with veterinary intervention.
Vet Solution: Since there is no cure, the dog requires hospitalization with aggressive emergency treatments such as intravenous fluid, anti-vomiting medications, and antiviral medications.
Steps to Take If Your Dog Is Vomiting Blood
If your dog is vomiting blood, don't panic, but don't delay in seeking medical attention either. It's a scary sign that may indicate a serious illness or injury, but there are many things that can cause it. Knowing what causes vomiting blood and how to tell if your dog's condition is serious can help you decide how urgently you need to visit a vet (and what kind of treatment they might need).
If your dog is vomiting blood, you’ll want to stop feeding her. Remember, the less food she has in her stomach, the less likely she is to vomit up blood. If possible, remove any food that may be left in your dog's mouth by using a paper towel or rag dampened with water and gently rubbing around their teeth and gums. Do not use a sponge or washcloth, as these will increase the risk of bleeding from abrasions caused by rough cleaning materials.
If you can't get rid of all traces of food from your dog's mouth, keep an eye on them for about 20 minutes after feeding time ends (if they're an enthusiastic eater) or one hour after their last meal (if they're more relaxed with mealtimes).
Call your vet right away
If your dog is vomiting blood, don't wait for the next day or week. Call your vet right away! If you can't get in touch with them immediately, try calling on a weekend morning instead of during a weekday rush hour. The sooner they are able to look at him and find out what's going on, the better off he'll be. You want to make sure he gets seen as soon as possible and has his health stabilized so that you can start making plans for treatment and recovery.
Take the dog's temperature
To take your dog's temperature, you'll need a digital thermometer and a little patience. If you don't have one handy, ask your vet for one.
First, brush or comb the hair away from where you want to take its temperature. Some people prefer to use rectal readings because they are more accurate. But if your dog has had previous bad experiences with being poked in the butt (or if they just don't like it), then an oral or axillary reading is a better option.
Take a photo of the vomit and blood for your vet
If your dog is vomiting blood, you should take a photo of the vomit and blood. This is because:
It's easier to send a picture than describe it over the phone.
Your vet will be able to tell if there are any important details that they need to know about, like whether your dog has been eating small bones or large pieces of metal (both of which could cause dangerous injuries).
If it's safe for you to do so, try taking a photo of your dog's face while they're vomiting. This can help provide additional information about what might be causing their symptoms.
Clean up the mess quickly to minimize your dog's exposure to it
The next step is to clean up the mess. The best way to do this is with paper towels or a rag. It's important not to use your hands, as they can be infected with the virus too and can transmit it to your dog (and other people) if you touch your face without washing afterward. Don't use bleach or other chemicals that may harm your dog's stomach lining. Just rinse off any blood-stained surfaces thoroughly with water, then throw away all soiled items in a plastic bag outside until you can get them washed later on at home or in the laundry room at work.
Prep for your visit
If your dog is vomiting blood, be prepared before you head to the vet. Write down everything he's eaten in the last few days, and take a stool sample for testing. You can also bring any remaining food with you to give to the doctor. This is especially important if you suspect that his symptoms may be caused by food poisoning.
If you're worried about possible food poisoning or other causes of vomiting (like a toxin), take a stool sample with you when you go to see the vet so they can examine it for signs of trouble.
Kidney disease, Addison’s disease, pancreatitis, respiratory tract disorder, and metabolic/neurological/viral infections. A pet owner may also see blood in a dog’s vomit following a traumatic incident such as heatstroke, head wound, severe burns, major surgery, or interaction with metal toxins or toxic plants.
If the vomit looks like a fruit punch (bright red and a large amount), the source is the esophagus, stomach, or upper gastrointestinal tract. If the vomit looks like coffee grounds (dark and dried), the assumption is that this oxidized blood has been partially digested, and the bleeding has been going on for a while.
Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, allergic reaction, stomach ulcer, or cancer are common results. Your dog needs an immediate visit to the vet or emergency clinic NOW!
Check the color and the amount of blood. If you see light-colored specks of blood in the mucus, use the wait-and-see approach and wait for behavioral change or if the situation worsens. If you see fresh to digested blood (i.e., looks like coffee grounds), go to the vet or emergency clinic NOW.
The color of the blood, any dietary changes, any recent traumas, and any new lifestyle transitions.
It's a good idea to take a sample of the vomit (with the mucus, if available), a picture of the vomit, and provide the details. All can lead to an accurate and speedy diagnosis.
PetCareRx’s Nature's Miracle Stain & Odor Remover is safe for pets and children, eliminates vomit odors and bloodstains permanently, and leaves a fresh citrus scent.
Is a dog vomiting blood an emergency?
Vomiting blood can be a serious issue for a dog, and it is important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible. It is best to consider this a medical emergency and to contact a veterinarian or an emergency animal hospital immediately. The sooner a dog receives treatment, the better the chances for a full recovery. It is important to try to keep the dog calm and prevent it from ingesting anything else while you are waiting for veterinary care.
Why is my dog throwing up blood but acting normal?
It is possible for a dog to vomit blood and still appear normal, depending on the underlying cause of the bleeding. Some possible causes of vomiting blood in dogs that may not cause significant illness include mild gastrointestinal irritation or inflammation, foreign body ingestion, and tumors. However, it is still important to have your dog examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible to determine the cause of the vomiting and to begin treatment. Even if your dog appears normal, the underlying cause of the bleeding should be addressed to prevent further complications.
Why would a dog throw up bloody mucus?
Gastric ulcers or ulcers that develop on the lining of the stomach can cause bleeding and the presence of blood or bloody mucus in the vomit. Ulcers can be caused by several different factors, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), stress, infections, or other underlying medical conditions. If you suspect that your dog's bloody mucus is due to stomach ulcers, it is important to have your dog examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Ulcers can be serious and can cause life-threatening bleeding if left untreated. The veterinarian will be able to determine the cause of the ulcers and recommend the appropriate treatment.
What will a vet do for a dog throwing up blood?
If your dog is vomiting blood, it is important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible. The veterinarian will first perform a physical examination to assess your dog's overall health and to determine the cause of the vomiting. The veterinarian may also recommend blood work, X-rays, ultrasound, endoscopy, and biopsy. Based on the results of these tests, the veterinarian will recommend the appropriate treatment, which may include medications, surgery, or other therapies.
What does pink vomit in dogs mean?
Pink, frothy vomit can be a sign of respiratory distress in dogs. This can be caused by several different conditions, including pneumonia, congestive heart failure, tracheal collapse, or bronchitis.
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.