If your dog vomits blood, you should call the vet—it’s important to get the situation checked out and avoid a serious issue. Pay attention to details, take pictures if you can, and bring all of the information you gather to your appointment. Getting prompt veterinary attention can make a big difference in the prognosis for a dog who’s vomiting blood, so don’t delay.
Below, you’ll find information on some of the conditions that can cause a dog to vomit blood.
Signs that a dog has vomited blood
Some signs that a dog has vomited blood—vomit that is entirely bright red or contains streaks of bright red, for example—will be obvious, but others may be less so.
Dark red, dark brown, or black vomit, or vomit that looks like coffee grounds, suggests that your dog is vomiting blood that’s been digested. A dog whose vomit looks like this could have a stomach ulcer, an intestinal blockage, or another serious condition causing internal bleeding. While any blood in a dog’s vomit is reason enough to call the vet, these colors and textures are an emergency—you should get your dog medical attention right away.
If your dog is vomiting mucus as well as blood, that could indicate a problem in the stomach or upper intestines. If your dog is having trouble keeping food and liquid down, it may also be a good idea to temporarily withhold food and water while you’re waiting for advice from a vet.
Take note of how your dog is acting aside from their vomiting. Has their appetite changed? Do they seem to be in pain? These details can help your veterinarian make a diagnosis. If you can remember to take photos of your dog’s vomit, or even collect a sample, that might also be helpful to the vet. But the main thing is to get advice from an expert and have your dog examined as soon as possible. Don’t delay your visit because you’re waiting to collect a sample.
Reasons a dog might vomit blood
Hematemesis (vomiting blood) can be a sign of many different conditions. The possibilities include:
- Addison’s Disease
- Bacterial infection
- Blood clotting disorder
- Cuts from a stick, bone, or other sharp object
- Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Intestinal blockage
- Kidney disease
- Medication side effects
- Respiratory tract problems
- Stomach inflammation
- Stomach ulcer
How a veterinarian will diagnose a dog who is vomiting blood
The vet will perform a physical examination, checking for things like cuts in the mouth and abdominal pain. Depending on the results of the examination and other factors, they may run blood tests and urinalysis, or use imaging tests like X-rays and ultrasound to determine the cause and severity of your dog’s condition.
How a veterinarian will treat a dog who is vomiting blood
The exact treatment a veterinarian gives to a dog who’s vomiting blood will depend on the severity of the situation and the reason for the vomiting. But they’ll often deliver intravenous fluids to help the dog rehydrate. The dog may also need medications like antacids, anti-inflammatories, anti-parasitics, or antibiotics. If the vomiting has been caused by a foreign object, injury, or growth, a dog may require surgery. If it’s the result of poisoning, the vet may administer an antidote, offer supportive treatment, give activated charcoal to prevent further absorption, or physically remove poison from the dog’s body.
Sometimes a dog who has vomited blood can be sent back home with their human right after an examination or treatment, perhaps with some medication. In other cases, they may need to spend some time in the hospital.
If you encounter blood in your dog’s vomit, don’t panic—but don’t ignore it, either. Contacting your veterinarian immediately is the best way you can protect your dog’s health and make sure that they receive any care they need.