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Dark stool in dogs

Dark, tarry stool in dogs should always raise a red flag for dog owners. Schedule an appointment with your dog's veterinarian at once. Bringing a fresh stool sample can help the veterinarian during evaluation. Diagnostic tests will be run in order to determine the underlying causes of the dark stool.

Identification

Dogs may excrete dark stools at times depending on their diet. However, the presence of dark, black, tarry and foul-smelling stools should be brought to a veterinarian's attention.

Definition

Black and tarry stools are often indicative of the presence of digested blood. The presence of digested blood in the stools is known as melena.

Considerations

Melena mostly occurs when there is bleeding in the stomach or small intestines. It's important to determine where the bleeding is occurring and what's causing the bleeding.

Causes

Some of the potential causes of melena in dogs are: bleeding ulcers due to the administration of certain drugs, cancer, the presence of foreign objects, some forms of gastrointestinal disease, metabolic diseases, bleeding disorders, infectious agents, and sometimes the ingestion of blood possibly either from licking a wound or swallowing blood from a mouth injury.

Warning

Left untreated and should the bleeding continue over time, the dog may develop anaemia, pale gums, weakness, loss of appetite, weight loss and ultimately death. Melena shouldn't be ignored, as it's often a sign of a serious condition that requires immediate attention.

References

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About the Author

Adrienne Farricelli has been writing for magazines, books and online publications since 2005. She specializes in canine topics, previously working for the American Animal Hospital Association and receiving certification from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Her articles have appeared in "USA Today," "The APDT Chronicle of the Dog" and "Every Dog Magazine." She also contributed a chapter in the book " Puppy Socialization - An Insider's Guide to Dog Behavioral Fitness" by Caryl Wolff.