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When Dogs Vomit Blood – Causes, Prevention, and Treatment

Overview of Hematemesis (Vomiting Blood) in Dogs

Vomiting blood in dogs is one of 21 symptoms that should never be ignored.

The medical term for vomiting blood is hematemesis, which is the presence of flakes, streaks, or clots of fresh blood in the vomitus, or the presence of digested blood in the vomitus. Digested blood can be described as looking like coffee grounds. There are various causes for vomiting blood and the effects on the animal are also variable. Some are subtle and minor ailments, while others are severe or life threatening.

Hematemesis may be the only clinical sign, or it may be accompanied by other clinical signs. It can be difficult for the pet owner to distinguish between true hematemesis, which involves bleeding within the gastrointestinal tract, from secondary hematemesis, which involves the vomiting of swallowed blood. Sneezing or coughing blood, and/or blood dripping from the mouth are signs of bleeding that may be swallowed into the stomach, and then secondarily vomited. A careful history and thorough physical examination will help distinguish between them.

True hematemesis usually indicates a serious underlying disease, and generally warrants hospitalization, extensive diagnostic testing, and supportive care. It is best to determine the underlying cause, and treat the specific problem, rather than solely attempting symptomatic therapy.

Causes for Vomiting Blood in Dogs

Here are the many causes of vomiting in dogs and some specific potential causes for hematemesis. The most common causes are usually diseases or disorders of the upper gastrointestinal tract, although in some cases, clotting disorders (coagulopathies) may result in bleeding even though the gastrointestinal tract is essentially healthy.

Potential Causes of Hematemesis

What to Watch For

Diagnosis of Hematemesis in Dogs

Obtaining a complete medical history and performing a thorough physical examination are necessary in order to create an appropriate diagnostic plan for a patient with hematemesis. A history of recent toxin exposure or administration of certain medications may be of paramount importance. Your veterinarian may also recommend the following tests:

Additional Testing Options

These are selected on a case-by-case basis:

Treatment of Hematemesis in Dogs

The vomiting of blood that represents bleeding within the gastrointestinal tract is a serious condition. It generally warrants hospitalization, the performance of numerous diagnostic tests, and at the very least, supportive care. Treatment of severe clinical signs is necessary while diagnostic testing is underway. The following nonspecific (symptomatic) treatments may be applicable to some pets with hematemesis. These treatments may reduce the severity of symptoms or provide temporary relief. Nonspecific therapy is not a substitute for definitive treatment of the underlying disease responsible for your pet’s condition.

Symptomatic Therapy Options

Home Care and Follow-up Care for Dogs with Bloody Vomit

Optimal treatment for your pet requires a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Follow-up evaluations are critical, especially if your pet does not rapidly improve.

Prevention Tips

FAQs About Vomiting Blood in Dogs

Some frequently asked questions about vomiting blood include the following:

Is a little blood in vomit normal?

Blood in the vomit is never normal. If you see this abnormal symptom in your dog, please call your veterinarian or local veterinary emergency clinic.

When is a dog vomiting an emergency?

Vomiting in dogs is an emergency if your dog is lethargic, weak, not eating, or when the vomiting is not productive.

What should I do if my dog throws up blood?

If your dog vomits blood, call your veterinarian. Read the above information on possible causes and treatments.

What causes my dog to cough blood?

Coughing up blood, also known as hemoptysis, can be caused by infections, bleeding disorders, toxins, heart failure, and tumors. It is always abnormal.

What could cause my dog’s vomit to be black?

Black vomit is caused by ingestion of something black (such as pigmented mulch) or from vomiting of digested blood (often resembling coffee grounds).

My dog is vomiting blood and it is also in their stool.

This can occur due to bleeding disorders, liver disease, bleeding ulcers, and conditions such as Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis.

Please see your veterinarian if you notice any abnormal symptoms in your dog to determine the best options for treatment.