Canine rectal bleeding, while frightening, is a common problem and rarely indicates a life-threatening disease or condition. The bleeding can be caused by a variety of factors. Keeping track of the bleeding, your dog's overall health and behaviour, and consulting a veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns are the best ways to take care of your canine companion.
Rectal bleeding in dogs can be the result of a number of issues, but most often indicates a problem in the colon, rectum or anus. The most common causes of rectal bleeding include constipation; colitis, an inflammation of the colon that generally causes diarrhoea and/or constipation; and proctitis, an inflammation of the rectum.
However, bleeding from the rectum can also be caused by rectal polyps, anal or colonic tumours, rectal fissures (tears) or problems with the sacs located around the anus
The type of bleeding and the nature of any symptoms accompanying the bleeding can often help narrow down whether the problem is originating in the colon, the rectum or anus.
If the dog's bleeding consists mainly of red blood in the stool, a problem with the colon is most likely.
If the rectal bleeding is fresh red blood dripping from the rectum and is accompanied by symptoms such as straining, mucus in the stools, frequent and small stools, blood coating the stools, licking and whimpering, it is more likely that the problem is in the rectum or anus.
To pinpoint the cause of your dog's rectal bleeding, a veterinarian will begin with a simple physical and rectal exam and most likely also order bloodwork and fecal tests in order to identify infections that may be causing the problem. While these steps can rule out many potential causes of the bleeding, colitis or rectal polyps may be difficult to diagnose without more extensive tests, including an endoscopy or colonoscopy.
It can often require a large number of tests and procedures--none of which are inexpensive-- to exactly pinpoint the cause of canine rectal bleeding. The good news is that many dogs experience rectal bleeding for no apparent reason and that many with only intermittent bleeding do not have any serious problems or experience pain. Talk frankly with your veterinarian about the cost of continuing tests if your dog is in good health other than occasional rectal bleeding.
If your dog's rectal bleeding is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, visit a veterinarian immediately: extreme diarrhoea, low energy and listlessness, seems extremely ill, bleeding from the nose, bruising or blotchy patches on the skin, or bleeding that is heavy and constant
Otherwise, a routine veterinary appointment should be sufficient.