Vomiting is a mechanism of purging things the stomach is not happy with.
With most dogs, their stomachs get plenty of reason to complain. Therefore, in general, when my dog throws up once, I don’t panic.
Profuse or consistent vomiting is a problem in itself. However, the problem grew tremendously if you found blood in your dog’s vomit.
Finding blood in your dog’s vomit
Blood belongs in blood vessels, nowhere else.
When talking about blood in the vomit, what you usually 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 be the scarier scenario of the two.
Fresh versus digested blood
The appearance of the vomited blood depends on where it came from and how long it remained in the GI system.
Like fresh blood in the stool, it can result from direct damage to the lining tissues, whether from irritation, inflammation, or injury. In addition, profuse vomiting itself can do enough damage to cause bleeding.
Some direct reasons for fresh blood in vomit include:
- foreign objects
- or severe enough inflammation
That 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 could do it as well.
Other potential causes include:
- metabolic issues
- infections, liver failure
- kidney disease
- cancer, etc.
Don’t forget that is possible that for any blood you do see, there can be further 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 apparent symptoms in the mix.
Seek veterinary attention
A problem severe 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, and pale gums, and you have a dire emergency on your hands.
My Dog’s Vomiting: Why Is My Dog Throwing up?
Vomiting of Blood in Dogs (Hematemesis)