sick dog

Dog Vomiting Blood: Ultimate Guide for Pet Owners

Anant Shastri
By Anant Shastri
Medically reviewed by Ivana Crnec, DVM
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What does it Mean if a Dog Vomits Blood?

What does it Mean if a Dog Vomits Blood

Dog vomiting blood means there is internal bleeding in the dog’s gastrointestinal tract or respiratory tract. In both cases, it is vital to seek immediate veterinary help.

It should be noted that a dog vomiting blood is not a diagnosis – it is a symptom indicating an underlying issue. The event is scary for the owner and unpleasant for the dog. Plus, it quickly progresses and worsens unless taken seriously.

A dog vomiting blood is at risk of developing secondary issues. Common complications of hematemesis in dogs include:

  • Dehydration. A dog vomiting blood will quickly dehydrate. Dehydration in dogs manifests with lethargy, sunken eyes, a loss of skin elasticity, panting, and a dry nose or gums.
  • Electrolytes/Acid-Base Imbalance. A dehydrated dog experiences an imbalance in the electrolyte status and acid-base balance, which can be life-threatening.
  • Severe Blood Loss. Significant blood loss results in anemia (reduced number of red blood cells), causing pale gums and breathing difficulties. Anemia is potentially fatal.

What is Hematemesis in Dogs?

Hematemesis is the medical term indicating dog vomiting blood. Hematemesis in dogs can be caused by an array of issues – some more serious than others.

However, before you panic because of your dog vomiting blood, ask yourself if it ate any red foods (such as beetroot or too much red forest fruits).

If you identify blood in your dog’s vomit, pay attention to its stools. A dog vomiting blood is likely to have bloody diarrhea.

Is Hematemesis in Dogs Serious?

Yes, hematemesis is a serious condition that needs immediate medical attention. It could be indicative of a serious gastrointestinal injury, bacterial infection, ulcers, and even tumors.

The amount of blood in the throw-up fluid might vary depending on the condition. Intense of prolonged hematemesis can cause anemia (due to the large amount of blood loss).

In such cases, the ill dog is facing two life-threatening issues – the hematemesis’ underlying cause and the anemia as a direct effect.

What Can Cause a Dog to Puke Blood?

What Can Cause a Dog to Puke Blood

There are several causes for your dog to puke blood like severe respiratory tract infections, intestinal tract blockages, inflammatory bowel disease, blood clotting disorder, liver failure, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, foreign objects, even tumors.

Here is a detailed list of the common causes of hematemesis in dogs.

  • Dietary indiscretion (sudden diet changes, ingestions, eating something bad)
  • Obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract (foreign bodies like bones or toys)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease or inflammatory bowel syndrome
  • Heavy parasitic infestations in the digestive tract
  • Ingesting poisons and toxins (from foods, chemicals, plants)
  • Systemic diseases and organ failures (pancreatitis, kidney or liver failure)
  • Reaction to medications (certain types of pain relievers like NSAIDs)
  • Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) and severe forms of GI tract inflammations
  • Fungal, viral, and bacterial infections (parvovirus, coronavirus, distemper) 
  • Ulcers and tumors in the gastrointestinal tract
  • Peritonitis (a life-threatening infection of the peritoneum).

The way blood in dog vomit looks can say a lot about where it comes from and what is causing it. Here is a more thorough explanation.

  • Bright Red Blood. Fresh blood is bright red and usually in the form of speckles, strains, or small blood clots. The presence of red blood in the vomit indicates the source of the bleeding is in the upper GI tract (esophagus and mouth) or the respiratory system.
  • Dark Tarry Blood. Digested blood is dark in color (brown or black) and tarry (looks like coffee grounds). The presence of dark blood in the vomit indicates the issue is located in the stomach or lower parts of the gastrointestinal tract.

What Should I Do If My Dog Vomits Blood?

If your dog is vomiting blood, visit your trusted veterinarian or nearest emergency vet clinic. Hematemesis in dogs is a potentially life-threatening issue and requires a serious approach.

However, before calling the vet, it is advisable to make a quick assessment of the situation. This is because the more information you give the veterinarian, the easier it will be for them to give proper advice.

Here is a list of the questions you need to answer before making the call.

  • Did your dog eat or drink anything that it shouldn’t have? (Look for spills, open packets, vermin traps, garbage, or anything out of the ordinary).
  • Have you recently changed dog food or started giving your dog different treats? Maybe feeding “people food” or table scraps?
  • What does the vomitus look like? What does the blood in the vomit look like? Is it bright and red or dark and tarry?
  • How many times has your dog thrown up, and with what regularity? Did it eat or drink anything in between throwing up?
  • Why is my dog acting differently? Can you notice any other symptoms, such as lethargy, bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss, or anything else out of the ordinary?

Is Dog Vomiting Blood an Emergency?

Yes, absolutely! A dog vomiting blood is an emergency.

If your dog throws up just once, this may be an isolated issue. However, if the vomiting is an ongoing problem (occurs more than once in a 24-hour period) or is tainted with blood (red or digested blood), you need to seek immediate veterinary attention.

Many underlying causes of a dog vomiting blood are life-threatening. Therefore, if your dog is vomiting blood, do not take the “wait-and-see“ approach.

How do You Treat Hematemesis in Dogs?

How do You Treat Hematemesis in Dogs

The treatment for a dog vomiting blood depends on the underlying cause. However, dogs with hematemesis usually need additional supportive therapy for stabilization and symptom management.

Here is a short overview of the different treatment approaches (which are often combined together) for a dog vomiting blood.

  • Fluid Therapy. A dog vomiting blood will become dehydrated and experience acid-base imbalance or electrolyte abnormalities. Fluid therapy through an oral rehydration solution or intravenous fluids helps correct these imbalances.
  • Antiemetics. Antiemetics (Reglan, Cerenia) are drugs that stop vomiting. Such drugs are only prescribed if the underlying cause of vomiting is known. This is because sometimes vomiting is beneficial (like, for example in intoxicated dogs).  
  • Antacids. The veterinarian will prescribe antacids like Famotidine (drugs that counteract stomach acid) if your dog suffers from a stomach ulcer, acid reflux, or gastritis. Antacids are often given in conjunction with oral protectants.
  • Oral Protectants. Being highly acidic, vomit can damage the dog’s stomach lining. In such cases, vets prescribe oral protectants. Some are conveniently available in the form of mouth sprays and special toothpaste.  
  • Antibiotics. If the hematemesis is triggered by infectious agents, antibiotics are critical to managing the problem. Frequently prescribed dog antibiotics are Enrofloxacin (Baytril), Metronidazole (Flagyl), Amoxicillin/Clavulanic Acid (Clavamox).
  • Surgery. If the blood vomiting episodes are triggered by a condition that needs surgical correction, the vet will evaluate the dog’s overall health and recommend surgery. This is only after your pet qualifies as an anesthesia candidate. 

How do You Prevent Hematemesis in Dogs?

How do You Prevent Hematemesis in Dogs

Sadly, you cannot prevent all blood vomiting events. However, there are several things a pet owner can be cautious about that decrease the risk of a dog vomiting blood:

  • Mindful Dietary Choices. Always stay on top of your dog’s diet and pay attention to all it eats. Do not share processed human foods, and never feed your dog table scraps as they can be particularly harmful.
  • Updated Vaccine Status. Some causes of hematemesis are infectious and easily prevented with regular vaccination. Make sure your dog is up to date on its vaccination status.
  • Regular Deworming. Your dog also needs to be up to date on its deworming meds. Talk to your veterinarian in terms of choosing the best de-wormer and how often it needs to be given.
  • Responsible Use of Meds. Certain human medications (for example, non-steroid anti-inflammatory – NSAIDs) can be dangerous for dogs, especially if misused. Therefore, you must never medicate your dog without consulting with a vet first.
  • Keeping Toxins Away. Many household chemicals (antifreeze, pesticides, cleaning products) and plants (flowers and grasses) act as potent toxins for dogs. It is advisable to keep them out of your dog’s reach.
  • Pet Insurance. Regular veterinary care can be expensive. The OneVet pet insurance plan gives you 24/7 online access to vets and up to $3000 in emergency funds for only $19.99 per month.