A dog vomiting.
A dog vomiting. Photography by Kickers / iStock.

Is Your Dog Vomiting Blood? What to Do Next

Is a dog vomiting blood always an emergency? Should you take a dog who’s vomiting blood to a vet ASAP or can you wait? It depends on these factors.
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Picture this: It’s 11 p.m. on a Saturday night. You’re roused from your slumber by the sound of your dog throwing up all over the bedroom floor. With a deep sigh, you crawl out of bed, flip on the light and kneel down to clean it up. But wait, you see something dark-colored in the vomit. Blood. Your heart skips a beat. Your dog is throwing up blood. Is a dog vomiting blood life threatening? Do you need to rush your dog straight to the emergency clinic? 

What to do about a dog vomiting blood

A sick dog curled up in a blanket.
What are the next steps to take for a dog vomiting blood? Photography ©Rasulovs | Thinkstock.

A dog vomiting blood can be a sign of a serious emergency or a minor problem. “It sounds gross, but you should look closely at the vomit,” says Kelly Diehl, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, scientific communications advisor for the Morris Animal Foundation, a nonprofit foundation that funds animal health research. “Is it a just a thread or a few streaks of red blood? Is it a volume of fluid that’s very red, like fruit punch? And is there anything that looks like coffee grounds?”

A small amount of red blood in your dog’s vomit could be caused by simple stomach irritation. “If [your dog has] an upset stomach and [he’s] been vomiting a lot, the stomach becomes so irritated that [he] can have a little bleeding,” Dr. Diehl explains. “Sometimes, we see stomach bleeding in pets that are taking non-steroidal [anti-inflammatory] drugs.” So, a dog vomiting blood that looks like just a few flecks or streaks of red blood is not necessarily very serious. As long as the bleeding and/or vomiting doesn’t get worse, you could potentially wait until the next day to contact your vet.

Is your dog vomiting blood and exhibiting these symptoms?

In some cases, a dog vomiting blood necessitates an immediate trip to your veterinarian (or the emergency clinic, if it’s after hours). A dog vomiting blood that is uniformly bright red signifies a large amount of bleeding. Black or dark-brown blood that looks like coffee grounds indicates the bleeding has been going on for a long amount of time, so that is very concerning. “A lot of people don’t realize that’s dried, partially digested blood,” Dr. Diehl explains. “That is almost always serious, even more serious than a streak of red blood.”

Another factor to consider with a dog vomiting blood is your dog’s demeanor. Is your dog acting fairly normal other than throwing up blood, or is he very lethargic and depressed? A dog vomiting blood who is also acting very sick should go to the vet immediately, even if it’s the middle of the night.

Additionally, a dog vomiting blood should be checked for other sources of bleeding. “For example, if [your dog] ate something like rat bait, that can cause [him] to vomit blood, but [he’s] usually bleeding somewhere else, too,” Dr. Diehl says. “[He] might be bleeding from the mouth or the nose and swallowing it. Any kind of bleeding that doesn’t seem to be slowing down, from the nose or the mouth, or any other signs of bleeding, including bruising on the skin or passing blood in stool, is an emergency. You don’t wait — you go right in.”

The bottom line on vet attention for a dog vomiting blood

The answer is easy with a dog vomiting blood during normal business hours. Call your veterinarian, describe the blood you saw, and ask if your dog needs to come in immediately or if you can take a wait-and-see approach.

However, if your dog is throwing up blood after business hours, consider the appearance and the amount of blood, how your dog is acting, and whether he has any known medical issues or is taking any medications that might be contributing to the bleeding. “If it’s really a lot of red-looking vomit, versus a streak or flecks, you should come in right away,” Dr. Diehl advises. “When you see that much bleeding, you should go in, even if your pet seems to be okay. And if your dog starts feeling really lousy, even if you’ve just seen a little bit of blood, you should go in right away.”

If you choose to wait until morning, always call your vet to report what you saw, even if your dog seems to be feeling better. “Don’t ever just completely blow it off,” Dr. Diehl says. “Even if you don’t see the blood anymore, call and talk with your veterinarian about what your next step should be.”

Tell us: Have you ever dealt with your dog vomiting blood? What caused your dog to vomit blood and how did you treat it?

Thumbnail: Photography by Kickers / iStock.

This piece was originally published in 2018. 

Did you know? Vomiting blood or coffee-like material can be a sign of gastritis in humans. Find out more >>

About the author

Pet expert Jackie Brown has spent 20 years following her passion for animals as a writer and editor in the pet publishing industry. She is contributing writer for National Geographic’s Complete Guide to Pet Health, Behavior, and Happiness: The Veterinarian’s Approach to At-Home Animal Care (April 2019) and author of the book It’s Raining Cats and Dogs: Making Sense of Animal Phrases (Lumina Press, 2006). Jackie is a regular contributor to pet and veterinary industry media and is the former editor of numerous pet magazines, including Dog World, Natural Dog, Puppies 101, Kittens 101 and the Popular Cats Series. Prior to starting her career in publishing, Jackie spent eight years working in veterinary hospitals where she assisted veterinarians as they treated dogs, cats, rabbits, pocket pets, reptiles, birds and one memorable lion cub. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons and miniature poodle Jäger. Reach her at jackiebrownwriter.wordpress.com.

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28 thoughts on “Is Your Dog Vomiting Blood? What to Do Next”

  1. My 2 year old pit mix throw up this morning. It wasn’t a lot but it was light pink. Would that be blood? He is acting normally and eating fine.

  2. Pingback: Why Is My Dog Vomiting White Foam? – yopetshop

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  4. It’s good that you mentioned how dark-brown blood is an indicator that your dog has been bleeding for a while. My 11-year-old dog has been throwing up blood recently and I am not sure what I need to do to help her feel better. I think that I should speak to a veterinarian who can identify the problem quickly.

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  7. Helpful, trusted answers from doctors: Dr. Kobasa on jelly like stool: If you have pencil like stools you either have very very large hemorrhoids (which would be very obvious) or something more worrisome. You should find someone to look and examine you as well as possibly perform a colonoscopy .

  8. My 11 yr old chocolate lab had streaks and splatters of blood in frothy liquid vomit this morning. 5 days ago she ate nearly an entire bag of mini marshmallows that my son took into his room after making a gingerbread house at school. I saw online that’s of concern if the marshmallows contain Xylitol, this bag did not. Could the recent stomach upset be a result of the marshmallows 5 days ago?

  9. My 2 year old terrier mix vomited mucus with flecks of blood twice last night and bright red mucus this morning. I took him off food and water and reintroduced water after 6 hours and boiled chicken and rice after 12. His demeanor has stayed the same, he doesn’t seem to have tenderness in his abdomen, and he’s kept down the food for an hour but there was blood in his stool. I think we’re in the clear, but if the vomiting continues overnight I’m taking him in for tests. Thanks for the article, it helped calm my anxieties and may have saved me from an unnecessary trip to the vet.

  10. My dog puked brown vomit looks like its could be chocolate, but I didn’t have any in the house. Other than that she seems normal.

  11. Hi, my 10 yr old dog Dollar vommited blood ( with mucous) early in the morning.Though he’s moving around normally. Also he’s having some kind of bacterial infection scattered all over his body in the form of skin erruption oozing out fluid/blood which he keeps licking. Can’t keep the Elizabeth collar on all thru day.Am worried please advise.

  12. My dog threw blood (Like thick brown jelly)and form and it seems to be week .What would be the problem can any one suggest me.

    1. Hi there,

      Thanks for reaching out! We suggest taking your dog to the vet as soon as possible. We hope your dog feels better!

  13. Am worried as my 8 month pup is vomiting,large vomit with heavy blood staining.He is lethargic ,not eating ,only wanting small amounts of water.Has seen Vet this morning who prescribed anti emetic.i rang vet again after large blood stained vomit,,he said not to worry ,and to watch and wait.I,m worried he should have a blood test ,and X-ray or scan to see cause of bleeding.

  14. My pup has been confined last August 10 because of parvo. I took him home August 13 but he still has his dextrose on. After an hour when we got home, he vomited a watery, dark red colored with little solids in it maybe the sized of red pepper seeds. I’m really worried. Is it because of the medications? Or is it because of his empty stomach that it got irritated or something?

    1. Hi Rizza,

      Thanks for reaching out and sorry to hear your dog isn’t feeling well. Please reach out to your vet with this question ASAP.

  15. Claibourne Jackson

    My dog vomited a very large (12″ or so) puddle of dark red blood yesterday… uniformly dark red with no foam, clear stuff or solids in it. She acted fine…her usual energetic self. This happened after she’d played ball with my husband. Her blood work is completely normal. Emergency vet sent us home with instructions to watch for other symptoms.
    She has had some sporadic episodes of gastritis, gas, diarrhea and sometime vomiting clear foam with red pieces or spots in it (small spots…like the size of maybe red pepper seed flakes. Anyway, I believe she has some sort of tumor in her gut… we will see. Vet has not called me back today

    1. Best of luck with the vet!! Taking her to the vet and following up with the vet is the best course of action. We hope she feels better soon.

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  17. I’ve had two dogs, one foster and one that’s mine, have a large volume of red blood in vomit. They also had bloody diarrhea. Freaked me out and both times it was after hours, so two trips to the emergency vet. It was some kind of gastritis. They got put on meds and it cleared up, but both felt extremely bad, judging from their behavior. Hope I don’t have to deal with that again.

    1. Hi, My Yorkie was vomiting up blood ,the vet said it was Gastro infection, he gave him med and he improved quite alot but no matter what I put infront of him he won`t eat. Did you have the same problem if so what did you do.

  18. My dog Stella just threw up blood last weekend. It was like little blood clots in the puke. She did it after she came inside from going outside. I started freaking out right away. It was a Sunday night. So I decided to watch her and wait to call the vet. She was eating , drinking, and acting 100% fine. The next morning I call my vet and explained what happened and told him it only happened once and that she was still acting normal so he told me to monitor her and wait and see. He said if she throws up any blood again they would get her in right away. He also told me that she might of broken blood vessels while she was throwing up and that might of been the cause for the blood. So far so good for my Stella but it was a very scary and worrying experience.

  19. Anything that is unusual or hard to describe – I take a picture with my phone. That way, I can show the vet what I saw, even if it isn’t happening anymore or was cleaned up.

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