What Are the Causes of Black Dog Poop?

Is black dog poop ever normal or should you get your dog to the vet ASAP if you notice that your dog's poop is black? Let's look at the causes of black dog poop and what to do about it.

A puppy on a grass green area, squatting / pooping.
A puppy on a grass green area, squatting / pooping. Photography © DieterMeyrl | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

When it comes to your pet’s health, sometimes the proof is in the poop. Most pet parents will schedule a visit with the veterinarian if their pet’s droppings suddenly change size or consistency. But what about when your dog’s poop suddenly turns an unusual color, like black? Is black dog poop normal or a cause for concern?

Why Black Dog Poop Happens

A dog squatting or pooping and peeing in a grass field.
What might cause black dog poop? Photography © winyoo08 | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

“A normal stool for a dog should be firm and dark brown in color … and the color of the stool should be fairly consistent from day to day, providing the dog eats a regular diet,” explains Dr. Dawn M. Spangler, assistant professor of shelter medicine at Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine in Tennessee.

Though it’s a relatively rare occurrence, when the color of your pet’s poop suddenly takes on a black, tarry appearance, it can actually point to a number of digestive conditions. According to Dr. Ramon Nieves, owner of Del Mar Veterinary Hospital in Florida, that tarry black dog poop is known as melena, and is typically a result of digested blood in your dog’s poop. Though it’s not actually a condition itself, melena is a symptom of some other underlying health issue, such as a blood clotting disorder or an ulcer.

“A common complaint by pet owners is that they’ve spotted some blood in their pet’s stool, and as veterinarians we can pinpoint where the bleeding is occurring in the GI tract based upon the color they describe … whether it’s dark or bright red, or even black,” Dr. Nieves explains. He notes that black dog poop typically occurs as a result of bleeding in the upper portion of the gastrointestinal tract; the dark color and tarry consistency of the feces signifies the digestion of blood as it has passed through the intestinal tract. It may also occur if your dog has ingested a significant amount of blood from the respiratory tract — such as if he’s been coughing and swallowing blood from his lungs, or even if he’s had a nosebleed.

So, Why Is Black Dog Poop … Black?

Whatever the cause, black or tarry stools indicate that there is bleeding in the stomach or small intestine of the dog, Dr. Spangler confirms. “The stool is black because the blood has been digested, causing it to change color,” she says. The causes of melena vary widely, and can mean anything from exposure to toxins or a foreign body in the gastrointestinal system to pancreatitis and kidney failure. “A few of the more common causes of black dog poop are cancer, foreign bodies, parasites, and viral or bacterial pathogens,” Dr. Spangler adds.

What to Do About Black Dog Poop

That’s why if you notice black dog poop — or you suspect that your dog is experiencing any sort of gastrointestinal upset — call your veterinarian as soon as possible. Symptoms such as your dog refusing his food or water for more than 24 hours — or if he or she is experiencing persistent vomiting or diarrhea — are always a cause for concern, Dr. Spangler notes. “Dogs can quickly become dehydrated, so it’s better to see a veterinarian sooner rather than later to get them the care and treatment they need,” she adds.

Pet owners should also tune in to their dog’s overall behavior, such as if your normally perky pooch is suddenly spending the entire day on the sofa. “Another symptom to notice is if you pick up your pet and they whine or cry … dogs and cats get stomach cramps and pains just like we do when something isn’t right,” Nieves says.

If you’ve discovered that your pet’s droppings have turned from their usual brown to black, Spangler explains that your pet’s veterinarian may check your dog’s stool samples for intestinal parasites, assess abdominal x-rays, and run blood work to help determine the definitive cause of the black color in your dog’s poop. “Treatment will depend upon the diagnosis,” she says, “but could include things such as anti-parasitics, antibiotics, antacids or anti-nausea drugs.”

Tell us: Has your dog ever experienced black poop? What was causing that black dog poop?

Thumbnail: Photography © DieterMeyrl | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

Read more about dog poop on Dogster.com:

23 thoughts on “What Are the Causes of Black Dog Poop?”

  1. We’ve had our dog for about a year, he’s about 5 years old. Since we’ve had him, he throws up a lot. We no longer give him any human food, which helps. Today he has dark runny black stool. He is house trained, but has accidents. When he’s not feeling well, he poops in the house. He’s got a vet appointment on the 29th.

  2. My toy poodle’s poop has been black for the past 2 days, but she’s still active, still eating and drinking her water. No blood in the stool or anything like that. I give her raw carrots and blueberries every other day, could that be the cause? . .Should I wait a few days before going to the vet to see if anything changes?

  3. So my pit bull was having seizures. She’s been on medication. Now all of a sudden her poop is black and watery

  4. Our pooch unfortunately has been diagnosed with gastric carcinoma and one of the symptoms was these small, black, tarry poops (amongst a lot of other stuff). Get your dog in quickly and find out. Sadly for us, it was too late…

  5. Keith Richard Weiss

    So I have a Husky, according to the info I got he would be six now, and about a month ago he got bloated. Took him to the vet and she got him on a steroid and antibiotic. The bloating went down and he was fine. Then it came back and she gave him different meds but the bloating isn’t going down.

    I also noticed he’s having issues pooping, eating, having energy, and pees a bit when in the house. I just realized today that the black poop may say something as to his condition but he doesn’t go enough for me to get a real good sample. Also been told by my vet that she won’t drain the fluid in his abdomen because it would risk further infection. Even though I believe it would help him go to the bathroom among other things.

    Would you happen to have any suggestions or ideas on what to do?

    1. My dog is having the exact same symptoms as yours. It all came about so suddenly. She will be having blood tests tomorrow. I have a bad feeling about this. How’s your dog now? I hope all is well.

    2. Dandelion root is a natural diuretic helps flush the system of excess fluid. And cbd will help with that too. If your pet is bloating it means its retaining water and usually is due to some underlying issue needs a vet check

  6. My dog is vomiting and pooping blood the vet is still closed what can i do for him to survive until the vet opens

  7. Chasitity Aplicano

    My baby is 2 she just started whining every day now for the past 2 days friday i seen she had pooped very little and at the end of part of it was a little black and next to was a small lime diarrhea black spot that was dry now every since then she has not ate or pooped but drink water. So today i gave her some chicken gravy to eat and she ate some of it but i have not seen her dri k any water today he gum color is fine he nose is cold and wet breathing is good doesn’t cry when i touch her stomach.stops whining and crying when she gets next to me.im really scared and worried abput her she is my life. What should i do.

  8. My 15 month shih Sui was treat eaten for worms on the 22nd October ,she has to have the rest of the pills on the 3rd of November but she did bring up bike two days ago now her stool is black is it really serious or normal ,she seems fine otherwise.

  9. I’m not feeding my dog with black or dark-colored food but still, she poops black dog poop. I am a bit concerned about that and I have read in another article and the findings are almost the same. I’ll be bringing my dog to the vet for that. This is what I meant:https://drmartypets.com/dog-poop-guide/

  10. I just started feeding my dog Ziwi Peak it’s an air dried raw food and his poop is now black. Is this common with raw air dried kibble? I’ve been reading alot about how black poop is normal for raw diets but i was just curious if anyone else is feeding their dog ziwi peak who also has black poop…

  11. Pingback: Dog Pooping Blood? Here's What to Do Next | MyDoggyTips

  12. My female dog julie experience the same for the last few days. She is in her last days, Doctors confirmed that she got Kidney Failure. Because of this her nose bleed for 1 week.

    I suspect this is the cause of Black stool.

  13. I have been feeding my dog about 1 & 1/2 cups of chopped carrots & broccoli a day along with her dry dog food for about 3 years. Can it be the cause of black stools?

    1. Hi Lisa,

      Thanks for reaching out! We suggest asking your vet if this is what’s causing your dog’s black stools.

  14. I’m feeding raw, train free & was told by the company that it’s normal to have less stool, could be dark then turns white.

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