Dog Poop: What You Should Know
As dog owners, we know our dog’s personalities and habits pretty well. For a lot of us, that means we even knows the ins and out of their poop.
So when our dog has a stool that seems unusual – rather it’s diarrhea or a bit of blood, we tend to notice quickly and think the worst. There is a lot that can be learned from a dog’s stool, some of which you can start to understand on your own. While many conditions require help from a veterinarian, you can start to put together some of the story on your own from visual cues given when your dog has loose stools or when you see blood in the stool.
This is a topic we’re asked about often, so we’ve put together some overviews of our most popular posts on dog poop and included links to the full articles.
Finding Red, Fresh Blood in Dog Stool (Hematochezia)
The presence of bright red, fresh blood in a dog’s poop is called hematochezia. This usually occurs with bleeding in the lower intestines (colon, rectum). Hematochezia should not be confused with melena, which is the passage of dark, tarry, black feces.
The presence of hematochezia may be a symptom of either a minor problem, or a potentially more serious problem in the animal. One occurrence of hematochezia may be a minor and transient event. Repeated or persistent hematochezia is more serious and should not be ignored. There are several possible causes. The most common cause in older pets is cancer and in younger pets are parasites.
There are many potential causes of hematochezia. The most common causes are usually associated with the gastrointestinal tract, although in some cases, the cause is completely unrelated (e.g. clotting disorders or coagulopathies). It is important to determine the cause of hematochezia, as specific treatment is often necessary for these patients.
Finding Black, Tarry Blood in Dog Stool (Melena)
The presence of digested blood in a dog’s poop that appears black and tarry is called Melena. Melena is different from fresh blood in the stool, which is called hematochezia. Melena may represent a severe, life-threatening illness, and should not be ignored. It must especially be addressed if it persists or worsens.
Melena develops when bleeding occurs into the stomach or small intestines. The bleeding must be high in the intestinal tract in order for the blood to be digested and become discolored.
There are many potential causes for melena. The most common causes are usually diseases of the gastrointestinal tract that create ulcerations or cause bleeding into the tract. Ingestion of blood or bleeding from clotting abnormalities can also cause melena. It is important to determine a cause, as specific treatment is necessary to successfully treat patients with melena.
There are lots of treatment options and long-term health issues that your veterinarian should look into if your dog is showing signs of melena. Review our thorough look at how to care for your dog and what to watch for.
Dealing with Dog Vomiting and Diarrhea
Often, diarrhea in a dog is accompanied by vomiting. Acute vomiting and diarrhea are characterized by a sudden onset and short duration of less than two to three weeks. Acute vomiting, a reflex act that results in the forceful ejection of gastric (stomach) and/or duodenal (intestinal) contents through the mouth, and diarrhea, an increase in fecal water content with an accompanying increase in the frequency, fluidity, or volume of bowel movements, are both extremely common in the dog.
An occasional bout of vomiting and diarrhea is quite common in dogs however, severe, acute vomiting and diarrhea is not normal, and can be associated with life threatening illnesses. It can cause extreme fluid loss, acid-base imbalance, and electrolyte disturbance.
There are lots of reasons dogs vomit and they can be very minor or more problematic. The severity or concurrence of other signs will determine the recommendation of specific diagnostic tests. Important considerations include monitoring the duration and frequency of the vomiting. If your dog vomits once then eats normally with no further vomiting, has a normal bowel movement and is acting playful, then the problem may resolve on its own. If the vomiting continues after your pet eats or if your pet acts lethargic, or doesn’t want to eat, then medical attention is warranted.
When Dog Vomiting and Diarrhea is an Emergency
If the vomiting and/or diarrhea continue after your dog eats, if your dog doesn’t want to eat or if your dog acts lethargic, medical attention is warranted. Please see your veterinarian.
If your dog is losing weight, if you see blood in the vomit or feces, or if your dog has ineffective vomiting (he is retching but unable to product vomit), this is an important medical emergency. It can be caused by a life-threatening emergency called Bloat. Your pet needs the professional care your veterinarian can provide.
If your pet is having the clinical signs mentioned above, expect your veterinarian to perform some diagnostic tests and to make treatment recommendations dependent upon the severity and the nature of the clinical signs.
Home Care for Dog Vomiting and Diarrhea
For less severe bouts with diarrhea and/or vomiting, there are home care remedies you can try
One of the key ways to combat it is to temporarily withhold your dog’s food, then prepare a bland diet for them. Most veterinarians recommend that you withhold food and water for a couple hours after vomiting or diarrhea. If there is no more trouble after that period of time, water can be started. Only offer small amounts at a time. If there is no vomiting or diarrhea of the water after 2 to 3 hours, then you can slowly begin the bland diet.