Does coffee-ground looking vomit and fresh blood in vomit both mean bleeding?


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Our question this week was:

What is the difference if you see fresh blood vs. coffee grounds in vomit – do they both mean bleeding?

Sarah M, Grove City, Ohio


Hi – thanks for your email. You wrote asking ....what does blood coming from the stomach look like when vomited? If there is bleeding in the stomach, and vomiting occurs immediately – the vomit can have fresh looking blood. If the bleeding occurs and the blood is exposed to digestive enzymes – the blood will become digested and appear as "coffee-grounds". It will look like small specks or flake of black. As the digested blood works it way though the digestive tract – it will appear be eliminated as a tarry black bowel movement.

A couple articles that might be helpful to you are Hematemesis (Vomiting Blood) in Dogs, Melena (Blood in Stool) in Dogs and Hematochezia (Blood in Stool) in Dogs

By the way...

Hematemesis = blood in the vomit
Melana = digested blood in the feces
Hematochezia = fresh blood in the feces

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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debra-primovic Dr. Debra Primovic

Debra A. Primovic, BSN, DVM, Editor-in-Chief, is a graduate of the Ohio State University School of Nursing and the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine. Following her veterinary medical training, Dr. Primovic practiced in general small animal practices as well as veterinary emergency practices. She was staff veterinarian at the Animal Emergency Clinic of St. Louis, Missouri, one of the busiest emergency/critical care practices in the United States as well as MedVet Columbus, winner of the AAHA Hospital of the year in 2014. She also spends time in general practice at the Granville Veterinary Clinic. Dr. Primovic divides her time among veterinary emergency and general practice, editing, writing, and updating articles for, and editing and indexing for veterinary publications. She loves both dogs and cats but has had extraordinary cats in her life, all of which have died over the past couple years. Special cats in her life were Kali, Sammy, Pepper and Beanie.