Thursday, June 7, 2018

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog: Blood in Vomit

In general, when my dog throws up once, I don't panic. Vomiting is a mechanism of purging things the stomach is not happy with. With most dogs, their stomachs get plenty of reason to complain.

Profuse or consistent vomiting, though, is a problem in itself. If there is blood in your dog's vomit, it absolutely is a problem.

Blood belongs into blood vessels, nowhere else.


Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog: Blood in Vomit

When talking about blood in the vomit, what you normally picture is finding what looks like blood--bright red specks, streaks, or clots in the vomit.

That is what it looks like when the bleeding is in the top part of the gastrointestinal tract, usually the esophagus or the mouth (and sometimes from the nose or lungs if it has been swallowed). Partially digested blood, such as from the stomach and further down, doesn't look like blood at all—it is often brown or black. Your dog's vomit would then look like it had coffee grounds in it. While that might look much less impressive, it can actually be the scarier scenario of the two.

The appearance of the vomited blood depends on where it came from and how long it remained in the GI system.


Similar to fresh blood in the stool, it can be the result of direct damage to the lining tissues whether from irritation, inflammation, or injury. Profuse vomiting itself can do enough damage to cause bleeding.

Some of the direct reasons for fresh blood in vomit include trauma, ulcers, foreign objects or severe enough inflammation. Makes sense, right? If that wasn't bad enough, anything that messes with blood clotting or the ability of the body to keep blood where it belongs can do it as well.

Other potential causes include metabolic issues, infections, liver failure, kidney disease, parasites, toxins, cancer, and others. It is also possible that for any blood you do see there can be bleeding you don't see.

For me, blood in the vomit, whether fresh or digested, is a reason to see a vet right away. Even without any other obvious symptoms in the mix.

A problem serious enough to cause blood in vomit is a problem serious enough to require medical attention.


Even with everything else aside, severe blood loss in itself can be life-threatening. And then there is the reason why this is happening.

Before you figure that you might just wait and see, let me ask you this - would you know that your dog hasn't eaten rat poison, hasn't swallowed something sharp that is now poking holes in his tissues, doesn't have liver failure, isn't bleeding internally all over the place, or is safe from any other potential disaster that can lead to blood in vomit?

Throw in other potential signs such as lethargy, pain, severe diarrhea, pale gums and you absolutely have a dire emergency on your hands.


Related articles:
Symptoms to Watch for in your Dog: Vomiting
What Happens in a Dog's Body with Severe Vomiting?
Is Blood in Vomit an Emergency?


Do you know what your dog is telling you about their health?


Learn how to detect and interpret the signs of a potential problem.


Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog now available in paperback and Kindle. Each chapter includes notes on when it is an emergency.

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog is an award-winning guide to help you better understand what your dog is telling you about their health and how to best advocate for them. 

Learn how to see and how to think about changes in your dog’s appearance, habits, and behavior. Some signs that might not trigger your concern can be important indicators that your dog needs to see a veterinarian right away. Other symptoms, while hard to miss, such as diarrhea, vomiting, or limping, are easy to spot but can have a laundry list of potential causes, some of them serious or even life-threatening. 

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog is a dog health advocacy guide 101. It covers a variety of common symptoms, including when each of them might be an emergency. 

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25 comments

  1. Good information to have. I would panic if my dog vomited blood!

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  2. Great post as always and good to remind us as with your posts I become more aware, thank you

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  3. Blood from any where scares me! If I had a dog your book would be on my bookshelf for sure.

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    1. Thank you, Holly. Yes, blood should never leave the blood vessels.

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  4. Our dog will vomit on occasion (not consistently) and thankfully I've never seen blood in it. But now I know what to watch out for. Great information here!

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    1. Sometimes dogs eat something they shouldn't have. And sometimes they might throw up in the morning from acid build-up in the stomach. As long as it is rare, it usually don't mean anything other than that.

      Only when it's chronic or severe you need to look at what the problem is.

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  5. If Bernie's atypical Addison's Disease flares up, he gets specks of blood in his vomit. I've learned to keep white wash cloths on hand so I can sop up the vomit. The white background easily shows the blood. Then I place the wash cloth flat in a gallon ziplock bag. I can show our vet how much blood he threw up without anyone having to touch the sample.

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    1. That is a great technique to be able to evaluate this.

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  6. Our foster dog was throwing up blood and having diarrhea and we rushed him to the ER. It was scary to see. He made a full recovery.

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    1. Very scary to see; glad he made a full recovery. What was the problem?

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  7. Good information to have! Our dog Misha has never vomited(thankfully).

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    1. Misha has never vomited anything at all, not even bile? How lucky she is :-)

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  8. I haven't had a dog vomit blood, but I'm pretty sure I would have taken the dog to the vet right away. Now, if it happens, I'll be sure to.

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    1. Yes, that is the right thing to do. Presence of blood means a serious problem most of the time.

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  9. I love your words blood belongs in blood vessels' if one thing sticks with people after reading your article THIS is it! It should get every dog to the vet without delay.

    Thank you for a great article.

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    1. Thank you, M; yes, I hope it sticks with people.

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  10. Great information. I know that if one of my cats vomited and I saw blood, I'd be on my way to the vet straight away.

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    1. They're lucky to have such a great mom.

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  11. Once again, great informative post! Pinning to my "Bark About" board to share.

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  12. That's a good distinction - blood doesn't always look red. Similar to "flea dirt" which is black but is actually digested blood produced by the hateful flea.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

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    1. Yes, absolutely. Great note about the flea dirt.

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  13. I wouldn't hesitate to rush my girls to the vet immediately if I saw blood in their vomit or their stool! That's nothing to mess with!

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