When your dog has bloody diarrhea, it 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.

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 veterinarian first. A vet visit may not be necessary at all. They will be happy to listen to the symptoms over the phone and give you a quick opinion on what this may be and whether your dog requires any medical attention, or if this is something you can solve at home by yourself.

Bloody diarrhea is 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 a food intolerance or a rectal injury in your dog. Let's take a closer look at this.

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8 Causes of Bloody Diarrhea in Dogs
and available treatments

Causes of Bloody Diarrhea in Dogs

Symptoms of Bloody Diarrhea in Dogs

If your dog exhibits any of the following symptoms, he may be suffering 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 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:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Anemia
  • Lethargy
  • Weight Loss
  • Dullness to the coat

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 or whether this can be something that is treatable at home. Do not rely on internet articles for the assessment.

RECIPE: Homemade Dog Food for Diarrhea

What is Bloody Diarrhea in Dogs?

Bloody Diarrhea in DogsDiarrhea is characterized by frequent bowel movements, with loose and liquidy fecal matter.

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.

Common Causes of Bloody Diarrhea in Dogs

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 as 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 in 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, by sniffing at an infected canines excrement, or from 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. Other ways 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)

Bloody Diarrhea in DogsThis condition baffles veterinarians as little is known of how it is caused. Known to predominantly attack young small breed dogs, 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 is suffering 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, highly strung and stressed canines. The unfortunate reality is that all dogs can develop this affliction, and well over ten per cent 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 their 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 not many outwardly visible symptoms of whipmorms. However, extreme cases can lead to serious infection and death. Most veterinarians advise whipworm check 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 DogsThe 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 grow 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 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 foo. 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 their diet. The trick is to work out whether or not this is a temporary change or whether the new food is harmful for 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)

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

This uncomfortable condition is generally caused by the body reacting adversely to normal bacteria in the gut and instigating a defense response which 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, a 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

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 DogsAt first, the pup showed signs of lethargy, and discomfort. This was followed reasonably quickly be vomiting. After some serious Googling, the same result popped up – Parvovirus.

That’s when the 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 may 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 – including injecting an IV into her once per day and giving her multiple types of medication – the Cruz family left the veterinarians with hope 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 the Cruz’s 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.

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