What Does it Mean When Your Dog Throws Up Blood?

Dr. Jason Gagné, DVM, DACVIM
By Dr. Jason Gagné, DVM, DACVIM
Updated: 5/9/20242-4 minutes
A woman with a dog

A dog throwing up blood can feel like cause for panic. After all, as a pet owner, supporting your pet’s health is a major priority. (It doesn’t help that the site of vomit with blood is dramatic, even if the cause isn’t necessarily an emergency.) 

It’s important to stay calm, though. In order to understand the causes and get your dog the treatment they need, try to carefully assess the situation. The more details you can provide to your veterinarian, the better they can assist you. (Knowing different types of dog vomit can also help.) 

Here’s some background information on blood in dog throw up as well as actionable tips to help you care for your canine companion.   

Hematemesis in Dogs

Hematemesis is the formal term for vomiting blood. It’s a non-specific symptom, meaning it could be related to a number of diseases or conditions.  

To identify what’s behind your pet’s hematemesis, consider your dog’s overall health and diet. If they’ve been diagnosed with an illness or tend to scavenge for scraps—including non-food items—these factors could help explain why they’re vomiting blood.  

Why Is My Dog Throwing Up Blood? 

Here are some possible reasons why your dog is throwing up blood: 

  • Stomach ulcers or erosions 
  • Irritation of the digestive system 
  • Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis 
  • Viral and bacterial infection. Viral diseases such as parvovirus and bacteria like salmonella may be factors.  
  • Cuts in the mouth or bleeding gums 
  • Internal cuts from swallowing a foreign object 
  • Blood clots 
  • Kidney disease or pancreatitis 
  • Respiratory conditions 
  • Parasites. Giardia in particular can cause bloody vomit, especially in dogs who aren’t on deworming medication. 
  • Toxins 
  • Cancer 
  • Addison’s disease. Also known as Hypoadrenocorticism, this rare but dangerous condition may cause a dog to throw up blood.  

Digestive Reasons Why a Dog Might Vomit Blood

Perhaps the most common reason dogs vomit blood is an upset stomach. It’s usually characterized by a disturbance to the upper digestive tract, which includes the esophagus and stomach.  

If significant irritation occurs in these areas, it may trigger bleeding and cause your pet to throw up. 

Then there’s hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, a condition caused by a dietary indiscretion, disease or other factor. In addition to vomit, your dog may suddenly develop symptoms such as bloody diarrhea. 

Signs of Blood in Dog Vomit

If your dog throws up blood, one obvious sign is streaks of red in the vomit. To determine what’s ailing your pet, though, pay attention to other factors as well.  

Color

The particular shade of red can be revealing. If the blood is bright red and in liquid form, it likely emanates from the esophagus. It’s also possible it originated from the mouth, was swallowed and then vomited back up.  

Vomit with dark blood may come from the stomach.  

If you see traces of pink or small specks of blood, it might suggest intestinal irritation. Foam may also be present. 

Texture

Blood that’s clotted or resembles coffee grounds often indicates partial digestion. This can mean a disturbance in the upper intestinal tract or stomach.  

Vomiting vs. Coughing Up Blood

While they may look similar (and have similar results), throwing up and coughing up blood are different. With vomiting, dogs often experience abdominal contractions or heaving beforehand.  

Coughing up blood is often preceded by the extension of the neck along with a honking sound. It’s usually related to a respiratory condition. 

If you’re not sure if they’re vomiting or coughing, try to note or record your pet’s behavior and describe it to your veterinarian. 

What to Do if Your Dog Is Throwing Up Blood

If your dog vomits blood, contact your veterinarian. Even if you only see traces of the substance, it’s a good idea to report it and get feedback.  

Ask your veterinarian if you should withhold any oral medications. Smaller, more frequent meals with water may benefit your pet.   

Additionally, while it may be unpleasant, collect samples and take photos. Your veterinarian can examine them to determine why your dog throws up blood. 

If you see a lot of blood or your pet is throwing up consistently, seek veterinary care immediately.   

Other Symptoms to Watch For

Sometimes throwing up blood is accompanied by other symptoms as well. Contact your veterinarian right away if you see any of these signs, as they can indicate a serious medical condition: 

  • Tarry stools. Black, thick stool could mean blood is passing from the upper digestive tracts through the digestive system. 
  • Bloody diarrhea. This might suggest a disturbance to the lower digestive tracts. 
  • Lethargy. Low energy and weakness may be signs of illness. 

Dog Vomiting Blood but Acting Normal 

It’s not necessarily uncommon for a dog to act normal after vomiting blood. In particular, less serious cases may not cause them much discomfort. Plus, many dogs are good at hiding their pain.  

That said, the presence of blood in vomit should be taken seriously. Have the animal checked by your veterinarian. Even if their problem is not life-threatening and requires minimal treatment, it’s good to have peace of mind.  

Veterinary Treatment for a Dog Who Is Vomiting Blood

When a dog throws up blood, treatment will vary depending on their condition. First, your veterinarian may perform a fecal or blood test, X-rays (for foreign objects), or testing for infectious diseases. 

Based on your pet’s individual needs, treatment for vomiting blood can include: 

  • Antacids to reduce irritation from stomach acids 
  • Medication to kill parasites 
  • Intravenous fluids for dehydration 
  • Surgery to remove a foreign object 
  • Hospitalization for serious infections or disease 
  • A highly digestible therapeutic diet  

Remember, if you have a dog throwing up blood, try not to panic. Pay attention to factors like the color and consistency of vomit, note any other unusual symptoms, and contact your veterinarian.  

For more dog health tips, learn more from our experts on our Pet Expertise page.  

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