It is concerning enough when your dog vomits but to see blood is enough to worry even the most relaxed owner.
While some cases will be mild, this is always an event that warrants looking into.
Pay close attention to your dog and how they are acting and take a photo of the vomit if possible.
Read on to discover why your dog is vomiting specks of blood and what you will need to do.
Causes for Specks of Blood in Dog Vomit
If you see red specks or a pink/red tinge in your dog’s vomit, this is a red flag.
Blood in dog vomit is abnormal and should not be overlooked. Causes are wide-ranging and can include:
- A stomach ulcer
- Inflammation of the food pipe (oesophagitis) or stomach (gastritis)
- A foreign body within the gastrointestinal tract
- Internal parasites – such as was the case with this patient
- A gastrointestinal infection such as Parvovirus
- Recent toxin ingestion of e.g. rat bait, human medicine or a cleaning product
- A blood clotting disorder
- Liver disease (which can affect the body’s ability to clot the blood)
- Kidney disease (which can lead to uraemia and ulcers)
- Cancer of the stomach, food pipe or small intestines
- A food allergy or sensitivity
- An adverse reaction to a medicine such as an NSAID
As you can see, there are a myriad of possible reasons for finding blood in your dog’s vomit.
It is important to mention that red-coloured food or items, such as thread from a sock, can be mistaken for blood.
If there are other colours in the vomit, take a look at this article, which should point you in the right direction.
Why Is My Dog Coughing Up Bloody Mucus?
While it may seem obvious that coughing up mucus and vomiting are two different things, it is often tricky to determine which your pooch is doing.
A hacking cough, as we see with kennel cough, can be confused for the retching that occurs before vomiting.
Similarly, a nasty cough can lead to vomiting in some more sensitive canines.
To help you tell the difference, watch closely what your dog is doing.
Those who are vomiting will be nauseous so may salivate and go off their food.
You will see visible stomach contractions and there may be bile or undigested food in what is brought up.
Coughing dogs generally have a good appetite and act normal before and after the coughing fit.
If your dog brings up mucus that is blood-tinged or contains specks of blood, this is troubling.
We may be dealing with a nasty chest infection or very inflamed airways. Certainly, a vet visit is in order.
Small Amount of Blood in Dog Vomit – Emergency?
Would a small amount of blood in a vomit always constitute an emergency? Good question.
Though we would certainly want these patients examined by a vet, do they need to be rushed in at 3 a.m. when the nearest emergency clinic is 30 miles away and there’s a blizzard outside?
The answer depends on a few factors.
If your dog is showing signs of being obviously unwell, we need to act. This would mean symptoms such as:
- Pales gums
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- A bloated abdomen
- Continued vomiting
- Bringing up a large amount of fresh blood i.e. more than one tablespoon
- Extreme Lethargy
- Choking / difficulty swallowing
Similarly, if you suspect your cheeky canine has ingested a toxin, this would be reason to get to a vet quickly.
Inducing vomiting in these dogs and providing activated charcoal meals can help prevent toxin absorption if done within the first few hours.
Finally, if your dog has other underlying medical issues or is very young or very old, the sooner they are seen the better.
These dogs can be more prone to anaemia and dehydration.
Dog Vomiting Blood but Acting Normal
If your dog seems comfortable, has no other signs, and can settle back to sleep, you may well be able to wait until morning.
If unsure, a call to your local emergency clinic is always a safe bet.
It is advisable to keep a very close eye on them. This would mean them staying in your room if this is an option.
Check on them regularly. Watch out for signs that could indicate the problem is escalating. This would include ongoing vomiting, shallow breathing or restlessness.
Dog Vomiting Blood and Diarrhea
So, what if your furry friend not only has bloody vomit but also runny stool?
This is not uncommon as both symptoms tend to indicate an issue in the gastrointestinal tract.
In fact, these symptoms frequently go hand in hand. For some, the vomiting comes first and diarrhea comes a day or two later.
For others, both signs appear simultaneously; for your cleaning pleasure.
Many of the possible causes of bloody vomit, like an infection or parasites, can also lead to diarrhea.
It is less likely we would be dealing with an obstruction in the food pipe or a foreign body in the mouth if the dog also has diarrhea.
It is worth checking if the diarrhea has blood in it too.
If unsure, place a wet tissue underneath to see if any red colour leaches through. This information can be useful for your vet.
Home Remedies for Bloody Dog Vomit
As owners, our main priority is keeping our beloved pets safe and comfortable. It is only natural that we will want to treat them and make them better right away.
As blood specks in the vomit is a serious symptom, we should only treat at home on the advice of a vet.
Trying to improve things at home before seeing a vet is not recommended.
There are several things that can be done to help alleviate symptoms and make your four-legged friend more comfortable.
- If your dog is an adult, withholding food for 12 hours can help rest the stomach.
- Once eating, offer a bland diet of boiled white chicken or fish and rice. Feed little and often to ensure they keep it down.
- Take away any treats or chews as these may be too rich for now.
- Ensure fresh water is always available.
- Discuss with your vet if some of the antacids you have in your cupboard may be appropriate. Your vet will be able to discuss the correct dose for your doggo.
- Ask your vet if any medicine your dog is on needs to be stopped.
- A course of probiotics can be started, which should improve gut health.
Don’t forget to have a good look around the home and garden in case you find any clues as to the cause of vomiting.
A chewed packet of Acetaminophen or an open trash can could help you solve this mystery.
What Will a Vet Do If My Dog Is Vomiting Blood?
Your vet will ask you all about your dog’s recent history and will examine them thoroughly.
They will aim to provide you with a diagnosis where possible.
This may entail some diagnostic tests such as a complete blood count, biochemistry, stool analysis, and some abdominal imaging.
Remember, as you probably won’t be able to take the vomit along with you to the clinic, a photo on your phone can prove very helpful. This enables the vet to have a better idea of the seriousness of the issue.
Treatment will depend on what is going on. For most, they will need supportive therapy such as intravenous fluids, antacids, an anti-nausea injection and some antibiotics.
Your vet may also issue a prescription diet and an oral rehydration solution.
Hospitalized dogs will get plenty of TLC and round-the-clock care from nursing staff. If there is a lot of blood loss, a blood transfusion might be on the cards.
Is There Any Way to Prevent Blood in Dog Vomit?
While not all causes of vomiting specks of blood can be prevented, there are steps that can be taken.
Owners should keep their pets up to date with the relevant vaccines and parasite prevention.
Do also try to control what goes into your dog’s mouth.
Feeding a high-quality diet and avoiding table scraps and bones is sensible. Keep potential toxins and ‘tempting’ objects like socks and plastic out of reach of curious mouths.
The Bottom Line
Seeing your dog bring up vomit that has some blood in it can be scary. Try not to panic and give your vet a call right away.
Most patients should be seen promptly and will receive supportive care alongside more specific therapy.
The prognosis is generally good but does depend on the eventual diagnosis.