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Help! Why is My Dog Bleeding from His Butt?

Posted Sep 24 2013 7:00am
Dr. Coates is a veterinarian based in the other “Sunshine State” – that's Colorado to the rest of you – where she lives and plays with a varied range of animals. She shares her professional and personal experiences, Monday through Friday, here on petMD's blog, the Fully Vetted. Log in for your daily dose of her insight and wisdom. < Previous Post Next Post > Sep 24, 2013 Help! Why is My Dog Bleeding from His Butt? by Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM     Share       Save to mypetMDToday's post was written by Dr. Jennifer Ratigan, a veterinarian in Waynesboro, VA. I’ve known Jen since before we attended veterinary school together and thought you might like to get her take on the world of veterinary medicine. She’ll be contributing posts to Fully Vetted from time to time.
I have had several friends and family members call me in the evening, or on a weekend, very concerned because their dog has “blood pouring from his rear end.” When I ask a few follow-up questions, it becomes clear that what is really happening is the dog is having frequent episodes of bloody diarrhea.
To most people, this can be very scary. The dog is very uncomfortable and may be depositing this mess in the house or, at the very least, going outside every few minutes and looking pretty miserable. He may also be vomiting and is likely not eating.
This condition is called Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE). It literally means bleeding and inflammation in the digestive tract. The cause is not known, but risk factors include stress and hyperactivity, and it is seen more often in smaller breeds of dogs. The bloody stool is often referred to as looking like “raspberry jam.” The dog can become dehydrated and debilitated very quickly, making this a potentially serious medical condition.
Diagnosing HGE is fairly straight-forward. The description of the stool and acute presentation, along with a simple blood test, called a packed cell volume (PCV), is indicative of this disease. A PCV is the measurement of the number of red blood cells in a volume of blood. The test can be performed with just a few drops of blood. Dogs with HGE usually have a PCV of over 60 percent because they have lost a lot of the fluid component of the blood into the intestinal tract.
The stool is often examined microscopically for the presence of bacteria called Clostridium. Research has failed to definitively prove Clostridium causes HGE, but it is thought to be associated with the condition. Dogs are usually placed on antibiotics to treat for these bacteria. Parasites such as hookworms and Giardia may also cause bloody stool, so it is important to look for these organisms to make the correct diagnosis and prescribe the appropriate treatment.
Treatment usually consists of aggressive hydration with intravenous fluids (IV), anti-vomiting and nausea medications, and antibiotics. Several days of hospitalization are often required for treatment. The good news is that the most dogs will recover uneventfully and return to normal in a few days or so.
Until we know the cause of this condition, we won’t know the best way to treat it. Many veterinarians feel that antibiotics may not be needed and should be reserved for more serious cases (especially those animals with low levels of infection-fighting cells i.e., those who are “neutropenic”) to prevent antibiotic resistance. There also has been recent discussion about the effectiveness of oral electrolyte solutions, for both people and animals with mild diarrhea. However, due to the severity of dehydration in HGE, this is not likely to be an effective treatment for these dogs.
Image: Thinkstock
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Amy Galloway Gill Boxer with this, 09/24/2013 09:53am My Boxer developed this several months ago, they did a few test and said his red cell count was low and that he might need a transfusion. This all happened in a week, I was in complete shock. They never offered him fluids or anything else. They did xrays, that showed nothing, they also did a ultra sound and said they could see bleeding but couldn't explain it. Their final answer was must be cancer, so instead of having him suffer we had him put to sleep. He had never had any other health problems and was always active and played with many toys. I always question this, because the week before all this happened, I was dog sitting a friends dog, that destroys all toys and I asked them if it was possible that he could have swallowed something and it had damaged the intestinal track. This article now makes me wonder more.
Amy Reply to this comment Report abuse 4 Lorraine Rotundo 09/24/2013 11:03am My Maltie had this last month and my vet treated it exactly as you say here.Because I was worried and because it is good to have some xrays and tests on file for future reference, I had them done just to make sure it wasn't anything else, like him swallowing a foreign object.
But my vet was right on the first diagnosis.He was ok the next day but on antibotics for 10 days. It took him 3 days to poop again but vet said it was ok.I had given him a bowl of mac and chees the day before he got sick .Vet said not to do that anymore because these little dogs have sensitive systems and I could be in big trouble someday with chronic digestive problems. Reply to this comment Report abuse 3 Judy Ragsdale-Zeeb 09/24/2013 03:00pm Their pancreas cannot take junk we eat!! Reply to this comment Report abuse 3 Lorraine Rotundo 09/24/2013 11:07am OMG I'm so sorry. You did the best you could with the info you got from your vet. {{{hugs}}}

I hope you get another vet if you get another dog :( Reply to this comment Report abuse 3 Judy Ragsdale-Zeeb 09/24/2013 02:58pm Amy, I am so sorry. My baby girl Dachshund (who is six now) just got over this. We were lucky to be near Flagstaff AZ Animal Hospital at the time. She had to spend a couple days there. She had all the tests too. Except not the one mentioned here, to my knowledge anyway. They did not tell me her diagnosis in the end, but she did get over this. She was on a IV or hydration and came home with lots of meds.

The was about 5 weeks ago, and we are at home now in CA and she is fine. Again, I am so sorry for your loss. I have lost a dog due to a "poor" veterinarian. Reply to this comment Report abuse 3 TheOldBroad Hurry! 09/24/2013 06:40pm Even if the client gives an inaccurate description, it sure seems as if a diagnosis of HGE would be fairly simple once the doctor sees the patient and perhaps runs a few tests.

Regardless, it seems that the first rule of thumb would be to fly/scurry/hurry to the emergency clinic if the regular vet clinic is closed. Surely dehydration would be of utmost concern. Reply to this comment Report abuse 3
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