Top 8 Causes of Bloody Diarrhea in Dogs and Available Treatments

Bloody diarrhea in dogs can be scary, knowing that this could be the symptom of a life-threatening condition.

But, in many cases, it’s something far less severe and will work itself out at home.

Either way, bloody diarrhea in dogs needs to be addressed by a veterinarian.

The best thing that you can do for your dog when he has bloody diarrhea is to be astute.

Pay attention to changes in his behavior and eating habits.

Research his symptoms, and as soon as you become worried, seek immediate veterinary help.

Until then, do not panic.

Diarrhea In Dogs

Diarrhea will happen to every dog, no matter the age.

If your dog has diarrhea, most of the time, it isn't life-threatening, so there is no need to doom scroll.

I have to remind myself not to. I know how it is.

Just schedule a quick visit with your vet and get it sorted out.

Dogs just sometimes get diarrhea, and it's usually caused by the following:

  • Food allergies
  • Stress/anxiousness
  • Drinking stagnant water
  • Ingesting food that has expired
  • Ingesting something they weren't meant to ingest (toys, seeds, sticks, pieces of fabric)
  • Ingesting something toxic or poisonous
  • Some medications
  • Viral, parasitic, and bacterial infections
  • Kidney and liver disease
  • Certain cancers

The typical diagnosis is keeping an eye on the diarrhea and maybe some prescriptions to help pass the diarrhea.

If it is an infection, whether viral, bacterial, or parasitic, a dewormer or antibiotic will come with it.

Usually, diarrhea is very treatable and will clear up in a matter of days.

Bloody Diarrhea in Dogs Symptoms and Causes Infographics

What is Bloody Diarrhea in Dogs?

Frequent bowel movements with loose and liquid fecal matter characterize bloody diarrhea in dogs.

As I said, a bout of diarrhea isn’t unheard of and can occur from something as simple as a change to your dog’s diet.

It may also happen if he has eaten something that he shouldn’t have.

A small case of diarrhea is nothing to worry about. But, when blood begins to appear, there could be something more sinister afoot.

First, let me run through some of the causes, symptoms, and treatments of bloody diarrhea in dogs.

One of the most serious diseases that shows itself as bloody diarrhea in dogs is something known as Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE).

This is the most common serious canine bloody stool condition, but that doesn't necessarily mean this is what your dog has.

Even if you’re on a tight budget, call your vet first.

They will be happy to listen to the symptoms over the phone and give you a quick opinion on what this may be.

This is whether your dog requires any medical attention or if this is something you can solve at home by yourself.

Bloody diarrhea is a soft, runny stool that can have varying amounts of blood within it.

It can potentially be life-threatening in cases of HGE in dogs or if the diarrhea is severe and accompanies other symptoms.

Mild cases will often resolve themselves and may be caused by food intolerance or a rectal injury in your dog.

Let's take a closer look at this.

ALSO READ: The Best Dog Food for Dogs With Diarrhea and Loose Stools

Causes of Bloody Diarrhea in Dogs with dog in check-up

Symptoms of Bloody Diarrhea in Dogs

If your dog exhibits any of the following symptoms, he may suffer from something more serious than an upset stomach.

Other than the mentioned Hemorrhagic Gastro Enteritis condition, the illness may also include Parvovirus or parasite infestations.

There are some remedies for a dog's regular diarrhea, but when there's blood in your canine's stool.

It's time to watch out for some other symptoms (which are likely to accompany bloody stool in your dog) and seek your vet's guidance.

Symptoms to watch out for:

If your dog is experiencing these symptoms, head to or phone your vet immediately.

They will be able to weigh up the different symptoms, make a diagnosis over the phone, and judge whether further medical treatment is required.

Do not rely on internet articles for the assessment.

RECIPE: Homemade Dog Food for Diarrhea

Common Causes of Bloody Diarrhea in Dogs And its Treatments

There are numerous reasons for bloody diarrhea in dogs to be present, many of these are harmless but some can be life-threatening.

Your job as an owner is to read the signs, recognize changes in your dog’s behavior, and seek veterinary treatment as soon as you suspect that something is wrong.

1. Parvovirus

Canine Parvovirus is a highly contagious viral infection that usually attacks the intestinal tract, but other forms of this disease can attack the heart muscle itself.

The most obvious signs of a dog suffering from parvovirus are:

  • Vomiting
  • Severe bloody diarrhea in dogs
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Hypothermia
  • Noticeably red mouth and eyes

As this disease is highly infectious, your dog can pick it up either through direct contact with another infected animal.

He may sniff at an infected canine's excrement or from the fecal matter of an infected dog being trodden on, and brought into the home on shoes.

Treatments for Parvovirus in canines include:

  • IV Fluids
  • Antibiotics
  • Injectable vitamins
  • Colostrum in puppies

2. Hookworms

Especially dangerous to young puppies and older dogs with weakened immune systems, these parasites clamp onto the wall of the small intestine and suck blood from their host.

Symptoms include:

  • Anemia
  • Pale gums
  • Lethargy
  • An unhealthy coat and flaky skin
  • Coughing

The hookworm is usually passed on from mother to pup through her milk.

Another way that a dog can contract hookworm is through direct skin penetration from the larvae.

Treatments include a parasitic dewormer for dogs and iron supplements.

3. Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE)

This condition baffles veterinarians as little is known about how it is caused.

Known to attack young small breed dogs predominantly, this condition is caused by the body reacting adversely to food or bacteria.

This reaction causes proteins, red blood cells, and fluids to leak through the lining of the intestinal tract.

Perhaps most confusing is the fact that this takes place even when no inflammation is present.

If your dog suffers from Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis, catching it quickly will help greatly, according to case studies from other vets and research.

Keep an eye out for the following symptoms:

  • Sudden vomiting
  • Bloody diarrhea in dogs with a foul odor
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss

Most prevalent in young small breed dogs are highly strung and stressed canines.

The unfortunate reality is that all dogs can develop this affliction, and well over ten percent of dogs will suffer from at least one bout of this illness in their lifetime.

Common treatments include antibiotics, IV fluids, and potassium and electrolyte supplements.

ASK A VET: Does Hypoallergenic Dog Food Really Work, and Why?

4. Whipworms

The whipworm is especially dangerous as its eggs can survive in just about any environment, from water and food to soil and bedding.

The eggs can survive for years without a host.

One of the more sly parasites, there are often few outwardly visible symptoms of whipworms.

However, extreme cases can lead to serious infection and death.

Most veterinarians advise whipworm checks to take place at least once annually.

Symptoms of this parasite include:

  • Dehydration
  • Anemia
  • Bloody diarrhea in dogs

Any age, breed, and size of dog can contract whipworm.

It’s for this reason that hygiene must reign supreme when trying to prevent a case of whipworm.

The treatment for whipworm is a parasitic dewormer.

5. Roundworms

Bloody Diarrhea in Dogs - Helminths ClassificationThe roundworm can produce up to 85,000 eggs per day.

Initially, the eggs are ingested by the dogs, where they will progress into larvae before making their way to the digestive tract.

It’s here that these light-colored worms roam freely, feeding off of the partly digested matter.

This may seem less dangerous than a blood-sucking parasite, but when the number of these worms grows, it can cause a life-threatening blockage.

Symptoms of a roundworm infestation in your pet can include:

  1. Lethargy
  2. Vomiting
  3. Bloody diarrhea in dogs
  4. Coughing
  5. Anorexia

Most commonly, puppies are infected by their mother, either just before birth or whilst nursing.

Roundworms are tricky little devils and can live dormant in dogs for their entire lives.

They could also attack and cause incredible health issues.

Similar to other types of worms, the treatment for this parasite is a parasitic dewormer.

RELATED: Can Humans Get Worms From Dogs?

6. Changes in Diet

A change in diet can cause health issues, most notably when changing to a nutritionally deficient food.

But, issues can occur in sensitive dogs as well or due to food intolerances and allergies with even the most minor change.

Signs that your dog's new diet is not agreeing with him include:

  • Vomiting
  • Bloody diarrhea in dogs
  • Flatulence
  • Weight Loss
  • Scratching incessantly

Any dog can suffer from an adverse reaction to changes in its diet.

The trick is to work out whether or not this is a temporary change or whether the new food is harmful to your dog.

It's best to speak with your veterinarian about the best way to treat your dog's food intolerance issue.

Some treatment options may include:

  • Revert to old food if possible
  • Allergy testing
  • Conduct an elimination diet

7. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

In essence, inflammatory bowel disease in dogs (IBD) is the doggy version of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) that is found commonly in the human population.

This condition is generally caused by the body reacting adversely to normal bacteria in the gut and instigating a defense response that causes inflammation of the bowel.

Common symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease include:

  • Bloody diarrhea in dogs
  • Lethargy
  • Flatulence
  • Gurgling stomach
  • Dull coat
  • Weight Loss
  • Vomiting

As with humans, little is known as to what causes this condition.

The most likely cause is food sensitivity and allergies.

Treatments include anti-inflammatory medication and diet modification (here's an IBD-friendly recipe).

8. Rectal Injuries

Rectal injuries are usually caused by your dog eating something that he shouldn’t have, for instance, a piece of bone, rock, or part of a stick.

The indigestible object will pass through the digestive tract and may cause injury to the surrounding areas.

Symptoms include:

  • Bloody diarrhea in dogs
  • Pain in stomach
  • Sensitivity to movement or touch
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting

Incredibly playful dogs and those that will put anything in their mouths are the most likely to suffer from this type of injury.

Treatments for rectal injuries will depend on the injury itself but could include surgical removal of scar tissue in extreme cases or antibiotics if an infection takes place.

RELATED: Dog Has Diarrhea? 9 Ways to Prevent and Treat It

Bloody Diarrhea in Dogs with dog in check-up

Sammy's Success Story

With all of these possible reasons for your dog to suffer from bloody diarrhea, one diagnosis that everyone keeps their finger crossed to avoid is Parvo.

This highly infectious disease is painful, scary, and life-threatening to those who have become infected.

One unlucky dog that was struck down with this deadly disease was a happy, bouncy chihuahua/beagle mix named Sammy.

We stumbled upon the story on the blog, run by Hayley Cruz. It was, in fact, Hayley’s little brother who was gifted this adorable bundle of joy for Christmas.

Her brother took to dog ownership like a duck to water.

In the first few days of her arrival, he wouldn’t even let anyone near little Sammy if he believed that they had recently consumed chocolate!

Puppy training began post haste, and Sammy – the big ball of energy that she was – was doing well.

But then, a mere five days after she arrived at the Cruz home, Hayley came downstairs to find something was wrong.

Bloody Diarrhea in Dogs parvovirusAt first, the pup showed signs of lethargy and discomfort.

This was followed reasonably quickly by vomiting. After some serious Googling, the same result popped up – Parvovirus.

That’s when diarrhea kicked in.

Worried about the costs associated with going to the veterinarian, Hayley, her brother, and their mother all tried their very best to research and treat Sammy at home.

But to no avail.

After twenty-four hours with no improvement, they made the decision that would ultimately save Sammy’s life.

They took the dog to the closest veterinarian.

Hayley mentioned how she was nervous that the vet might scold them for not bringing Sammy in sooner.

But she said that as luck would have it – and due in part to their home remedies – Sammy was experiencing very little dehydration.

They were told that she should make a full recovery.

With a thorough plan of action for the next two weeks of treatment, the Cruz family left the veterinarians hopeful for a bright future for this brave young pup.

At first, the whole family detested poking her with a needle to insert the IV.

They knew that they were doing this to help her, but seeing her writhe in pain was somewhat unbearable.

They persisted, and once her treatment was complete, they were overjoyed to welcome the bouncy and energetic Sammy back!

The 8 Causes of Bloody Diarrhea in DogsNow a fully grown Chihuahua, Sammy is happy, healthy, and still full of energy.

Owners like them are the best example of what a dog owner should be.

Immediately aware of irregular behavior, they researched the symptoms and began treatment immediately.

Even on a tight budget, they didn’t care about the cost and ultimately spent as much money as it took to help Sammy.

As Hayley described it, they didn’t care if it meant that they had to survive on beans as long as their pup was going to be okay.

What To Do If I See Blood in My Dog’s Stool

Seeing your blood in your woofer's stool can be a medical emergency, and it’s best to consult your vet right away.

If left untreated, this condition could become fatal to your pooch.

Your vet will instruct you on how to treat bloody diarrhea in dogs, especially at home.

At times, bloody diarrhea doesn’t readily disappear and might need continuous treatment.  

Are Antibiotics Safe?

When your dog has bloody diarrhea and vomiting, one of the most recommended treatments is antibiotics.

They are proven to be very effective when it comes to getting rid of those bacteria. 

However, there are some vets who discourage the intake of antibiotics.

While they are reliable medications, they can also eliminate the “good” bacteria in a dog’s gut and later disrupt their metabolism, nutrition, and immune system.

How to Prevent Bloody Diarrhea in Dogs

The best way to avoid your dog from pooping, blood, and vomiting is to keep them away from toxins, scraps, and any foreign objects.

If you are switching between dog foods, make sure to have a gradual transition for better adjustment.

You also need to monitor what they are eating and ensure that it’s packed with nutrients.

Another way to prevent bloody diarrhea is to stick with your regular vet visits.

Bloody Diarrhea in Dogs: FAQ

Is bloody diarrhea in dogs an emergency?

Bloody diarrhea in dogs or vomiting is an emergency that is potentially fatal if left untreated.

If it is fresh blood (hematochezia), it should be treated as an emergency since your woofer could die from dehydration.

A concern could be present if there are more than 2 occurrences, so you should contact the vet immediately.

Should I feed my dog with bloody diarrhea?

The vet might advise depriving your dog of food and liquids for 24 hours to allow his or her intestines to recover.

A bland diet for a day or two may help your dog friend's condition get better.

Fido might feel better after eating plain canned pumpkin and plain white rice that has been prepared with some chicken.

What color is parvo poop?

As more blood enters the intestines, the parvo stool should initially be a light yellow and gradually turn darker.

In the later stages, it might change from yellowish brown to dark red to almost black.

Parvovirus poop can occasionally contain mucus, which gives it a thick, gooey texture.

Can I give my dog Pepto for bloody diarrhea?

Giving most dogs Pepto-Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate) is safe.

Dr. Jerry Klein, the chief veterinarian for the AKC, claims that he only rarely advises it.

The drug's salicylates have the potential to cause gastrointestinal bleeding.

The bismuth can also cause the feces to turn black, which might mask any subsequent gastric bleeding.

What does bloody diarrhea look like in dogs?

If the blood looks like coffee grounds, then it comes from the lower part of the intestines.

If the blood looks like it's not digested and is still red, then it could have come from their colon.

If it's dark, tarry, or sticky, that is either from their stomach or upper intestines.

Bloody Diarrhea in Dogs: Before You Go

As fur parents, bloody diarrhea in dogs can sometimes be scary.

You may not know what to do at first.

Some dog owners would wait it out and see what happens the next time their dog poops.

However, always remember that bloody diarrhea in dogs is a serious condition, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly.

If the problem continues along with vomiting and low energy levels, you ought to rush your pooch to the nearest vet.

Once treated, the vet will tell you how to treat bloody diarrhea in dogs continuously at home.

Our dogs have less control over what they put into their mouths.

So, the best way to prevent this from happening is to monitor what your pooch eats.


Dana is a qualified veterinarian with background in animal care and training sciences and an avid writer on the topics of dog health. Her range of expertise is wide but her primary focus in on animal nutrition and specifically dog foods.