Canine First Aid for Rectal Bleeding in Dogs

Rectal bleeding might not be as harmful as it seems.
Image Credit: Sebastian Condrea/Moment/GettyImages

Just as a doctor takes vital signs before treating a problem, taking vital signs if your dog is bleeding from the rear end will help you assess whether the situation is an emergency. If your dog is bleeding from the butt, known as rectal bleeding, take heart that it is often not as harmful to her as it is frightening to you.

Assessing your dog's overall condition, as well as checking her rectum and anus for clues as to why she is bleeding, will indicate whether aid can be administered at home or you need to seek emergency veterinary treatment.

Approaching a dog bleeding from the rear end

An injured dog may strike out from fear or aggression, even your own dog. If he growls or gives any warning signals, don't approach him but speak softly and avoid direct eye contact, which he may perceive as a threat.

Approach slowly and allow your dog to sniff the back of your hand, and, if possible, have someone assist you in holding him on his side to check his vital signs and examine the rectal area.

Respiratory and pulse signals

Assess the heart rate and pulse if your dog is bleeding from the butt — a dog's heartbeat can be felt where the left front leg meets the chest. Bend the leg slightly until you can feel her heartbeat and use your index or forefinger to feel for a pulse — the normal heart rate for a small dog is 100 to 160 beats per minute; medium dogs are generally 60 to 100 beats per minute; and large dogs and puppies are variable.

While taking the pulse, check her respiratory rate — dogs take 10 to 30 breaths per minute, but can pant up to 200 times per minute.

Mucous membrane color

Check the mucous membranes of your dog to make sure he's getting enough oxygen. To do this, lift your dog's upper lips and check to make sure his gums are a healthy pink color; any other colors indicate a serious emergency.

If your dog's gums are pink, press a finger lightly onto the gum and see how long it takes for the color to return — this is known as the capillary refill time which signals whether blood circulation is normal — and should take one to two seconds to return to pink. Less than one second or more than three seconds indicates an emergency situation and should be handled accordingly.

Bleeding from the rear end color

If your dog is bleeding from the rear end and the blood is dark red, it's coming from inside your dog's rectum or digestive system. If it is bright red, the bleeding is closer to the surface or at the anus. If blood is only observed in stool samples, note where it occurs.

If the blood is in the fecal matter, it's coming from the rectum or digestive system, and if the blood is on the outside of the sample, it's from the anus.

Observations and assessment

After vital signs are taken, assess your dog's anal area. The most common reason a dog's rectum may bleed is due to constipation. Check for obstructions and if there is a foreign object, do not attempt to remove it because the object could penetrate deeper into the intestines and attempting to remove it could cause irreparable damage.

Look for signs of parasites, polyps, and tumors, all of which can cause rectal bleeding. Observe the anal sacs of your dog located on each side of the anus. If they appear swollen, the sacs may need to be emptied.

Treatment of rectal bleeding

If your dog is spurting blood, seek veterinary attention immediately. You can do a google search for emergency vet clinics in your area if your veterinarian is not available.

If the blood is occasional, minimal, or only observed in the stools, try changing your dog's diet. If intermittent bleeding does not clear up within two days, see your vet who can perform tests to determine the exact cause of the bleeding.

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