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Hematochezia (Blood in Stool) in Dogs

By: Dr. Bari Spielman

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Diagnosis In-depth

Obtaining a complete medical history, and performing a thorough physical examination are necessary in order to create an appropriate diagnostic plan for the patient with hematochezia. The physical examination often includes a digital rectal examination. In addition, the following tests may be recommended:

  • A complete blood count (CBC) to evaluate for the presence of infection, inflammation, anemia, and altered numbers of platelets

  • A biochemical profile to assess the overall health and function of various abdominal organs, and to help rule out other disorders

  • A urinalysis to evaluate the kidneys, the hydration status of the patient, and the presence of blood in the urine

  • Multiple fecal examinations for parasites, bacteria, protozoa, and the presence of occult blood (blood that is not visible with the naked eye)

  • A coagulation profile to assess the ability of the blood to clot

  • Abdominal radiographs (X-rays) to evaluate the abdominal organs and assess for the presence of a foreign body or tumor

    Your veterinarian may recommend additional tests, based on results of the above tests and the clinical signs exhibited by the animal. These ancillary tests are selected on a case-by-case basis:

  • An abdominal ultrasound evaluates the size, shape and texture of abdominal organs and helps to determine the presence of tumors. Organs, lymph nodes, and masses can be sampled with a needle or biopsy instrument with the guidance of ultrasound. This test may require referral of your pet to a specialist in veterinary internal medicine or veterinary radiology to perform the procedure.

  • Bacterial fecal cultures may be recommended in those cases where a bacterial cause is suspected.

  • Colonoscopy (lower GI endoscopy) may be of benefit in the patient with hematochezia. Colonoscopy involves the passage of a viewing scope into the lower bowel to visualize the lining of the colon and to allow biopsy of any abnormal tissue. Colonoscopy is performed under general anesthesia, and may require referral of your pet to a specialist in veterinary internal medicine to perform the procedure.

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