Dog DiseasesEditorial Posts

What to Do When Your Dog is Coughing Up Blood

Watching your dog cough up blood is painful, and it can make you nervous. 

This article is a full guide for dog owners on what to do right away if they see their dog coughing up blood.

If you ever notice that your dog is coughing up blood, it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately. This symptom may not always be a reason to worry, but it could be a sign of a serious health problem that needs urgent care.

Therefore, you should take your dog to a veterinarian or an emergency veterinary hospital as soon as possible. When you take your pet to the vet right away, you can stop problems from getting serious and make sure that your pet has the best possible outcome. Don’t hesitate to get your dog veterinary care if your dog is coughing up blood.

It is a concerning symptom that pet owners should take seriously. Even though the cause may not always be serious, it is essential to seek prompt veterinary care when this happens. Coughing up blood can be a sign of many different health problems. These include an infection in the lungs, heart disease, lung cancer, or a foreign object stuck in the throat. The underlying condition can worsen if left untreated, potentially leading to severe complications.

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Understanding the Appearance of Blood to Determine Underlying Causes

Understanding the Appearance of Blood to Determine Underlying Causes

Dogs coughing up blood is a concerning sight for pet owners. The appearance of the blood can vary, depending on the underlying cause of the cough. 

  • If your dog is coughing up bright red blood, it typically means that the blood is fresh and undigested. This could indicate a cut in their mouth or a bleed in the upper airways. 
  • If the blood is dark and coffee-colored, almost like coffee grounds, it may suggest that your dog has a gastric ulcer. 
  • Frothy blood, on the other hand, may indicate congestive heart failure or severe lung disease. 

Taking a picture of the blood your dog is coughing up and showing it to your veterinarian can help determine the underlying cause of the cough. While it may seem unpleasant, it can aid in making a quick and accurate diagnosis and treatment plan for your furry friend.

What’s Wrong With My Dog? Is It Serious?

It can be challenging to determine if your dog is suffering when they are coughing up blood, as they may not always show obvious signs of pain or discomfort. As a pet owner, you need to keep an eye out for any changes in your dog’s behavior. If your dog is coughing up blood, it is a sign of an underlying issue that requires urgent veterinary attention. Look for signs such as lethargy, loss of appetite, difficulty breathing, or restlessness. If you notice any of these symptoms, take your dog to the vet immediately. Remember that vomiting blood can be life-threatening, and getting your pet to the vet right away can be key to preventing further problems and making sure it has the best possible outcome.

Reasons For A Dog To Cough Up Blood

Dogs are susceptible to various health conditions that can cause them to cough up blood. Despite being a worrying sign for dog owners, it’s important to identify the underlying cause to get the right treatment. We’ll look at the common reasons dogs cough blood below.

Dog Coughing Blood

#1. Hematemesis

Vomiting or coughing may be related closely to Hematemesis. Unfortunately, this is a severe health condition, in which case, the dog bleeds internally. The blood that comes out in coughing or vomiting is the blood that bled inside. 

The symptoms of Hematemesis include black or brown vomit and dark stools. The causes of Hematemesis are intestinal or gastric varices, stomach tumors, esophagus tumor, exposure to radiation, ulcers, Mallory-Weiss Syndrome, peptic ulcer, gastritis, and gastroenteritis. 

On the other hand, other causes are not related to a disease, such as a nose bleed in the digestive tract, excessive coughing, and oral surgery. 

On the whole, if you notice any of the symptoms above, you must consult a veterinarian immediately. Sometimes, a lot of blood is lost when a pet has Hematemesis, which can even lead to death. Therefore, you must take action as soon as possible.

#2. Pulmonary Vascular Disease

Pulmonary vascular disease is a term that encompasses a group of disorders that affect the blood vessels of the lungs. These conditions can lead to a variety of symptoms, including difficulty breathing, coughing, and exercise intolerance.

In dogs, the most common form of pulmonary vascular disease is pulmonary hypertension, which is high blood pressure in the blood vessels of the lungs. Pulmonary hypertension can be caused by a variety of factors, including heart disease, lung disease, and blood clotting disorders.

There are several types of pulmonary hypertension in dogs, including primary pulmonary hypertension, which is a rare inherited condition, and secondary pulmonary hypertension, which is caused by an underlying disease. Treatment for pulmonary hypertension in dogs depends on the underlying cause and may include medications to dilate blood vessels and reduce blood pressure, as well as supplemental oxygen therapy and dietary changes.

#3. Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis

Although uncommon for dogs to have Tuberculosis, it is generally caused by exposure to humans with the disease. It is also caused by consuming milk, tissue, or sputa. 

If your dog has somehow been contaminated with this ailment, it will show the following symptoms – harsh coughing, weight loss, anorexia, and fever. As a rule, if your dog has been suffering from Tuberculosis, it has to be euthanized. 

To confirm that Tuberculosis has indeed tormented your dog, seek the advice of an expert. TB can be fatal if diagnosed too late. 

Other than these top causes, other health conditions, such as kidney disease, liver disease, heartworm, hormonal imbalance, bacterial and viral infections, toxic ingestion, clotting disorders, parasites, and Inflammatory Bowel Disease, may also be the reason behind your pet coughing up blood. 

#4. Injury of the Mouth

A common reason for a dog coughing up blood is an injury to the mouth. This can happen as a result of trauma, like biting into a hard object or getting hit by a car. Additionally, infections such as periodontal disease can cause the gums to bleed and lead to coughing up blood.

If you see blood in your dog’s saliva or around their mouth, you should check their mouth to see if they are hurt. Depending on the severity, an injury to the mouth can often be treated with antibiotics or surgery.

#5. Lung Infection

Lung infections are another common cause of bloody coughing in dogs. This can occur due to viral, bacterial, or fungal infections, such as pneumonia. Additionally, lung tumors can also cause dogs to cough up blood.

If your dog has a lung infection, it might cough, have trouble breathing, and feel tired. Depending on what’s causing the infection, antibiotics or antifungal drugs may be used to treat lung infections.

#6. Dog Heartworm Disease

Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease that affects dogs. It is caused by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis, transmitted through an infected mosquito bite. Once inside the dog’s body, the larvae of the heartworms migrate through the bloodstream and eventually settle in the heart and lungs, where they grow into adult worms and reproduce.

Heartworm disease can cause dogs to cough up blood due to the damage and inflammation caused by the parasitic worms in the heart and lungs. This disease can be stopped with regular heartworm medicine and testing, but if left untreated, it can damage a dog’s organs in a way that can’t be fixed. If a dog already has heartworms and starts coughing up blood, it is very wise to take it to the vet right away. This could mean that the disease has gotten more serious and the dog may need more tests, like a chest x-ray, to find out how serious the damage is and what the most appropriate course of treatment is. Telling the vet how the dog has been treated for heartworms in the past can help find and treat heartworm disease quickly.

#7. Foreign objects in the stomach

Dogs are naturally curious animals, and they often get into trouble when they eat something they shouldn’t. If a dog swallows an object such as a piece of plastic, a toy, or any other item, it can cause them to start coughing up blood. The foreign object may become stuck in the esophagus, which can put pressure on the trachea and make breathing difficult for the dog. Additionally, the object can cause severe lesions along the mucosa of the esophagus.

If you suspect your dog has swallowed a foreign object, it is very crucial to take them to an emergency veterinarian right away. They can perform an x-ray to identify the location of the object, and provide oxygen supplementation if necessary. Depending on the size and location of the object, it may be able to pass through the digestive system on its own. However, endoscopy may be needed to remove the object in other situations.

#8. Canine Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure is a condition that affects many older dogs and is a common cause of coughing up blood. Dogs with congestive heart failure often experience coughing fits, particularly as the disease progresses. As the heart failure worsens, the coughing fits may include bloody foam or sputum.

If you notice that your dog is having difficulty breathing, has a fast respiratory rate when resting, or is coughing up blood, take them to the veterinarian immediately. They can do an x-ray to look at the heart and lungs, give extra oxygen, and start treatment if needed.

Even though there is no cure for congestive heart failure, it can be treated with medicine and a change in lifestyle. Talk to your vet about providing the most appropriate possible medical care for your dog to ensure that they live a comfortable life for the remainder of their lives.

#9. Ingestion Of Toxins Or Poison

Ingestion of toxins or poisons can cause dogs to cough up blood. If your dog has eaten a toxic substance, such as a cleaning chemical or rat poison, they may cough up blood. This is because their body tries to fight the symptoms of toxicity.

If you know or suspect that your dog has eaten something toxic or poisonous, take them to the emergency vet immediately. It is also suggested that you call the Pet Poison Helpline to find out what treatment is best for your pet. Veterinarians from the Pet Poison Helpline will work with your emergency vet to come up with a good plan for your dog’s decontamination and treatment.

#10. Coagulopathy or Clotting Disorders

Coagulopathy or clotting disorders can be another reason why your dog is coughing up blood. If your dog’s nose starts bleeding or they start sneezing blood, it could be a sign of a clotting disorder. As the clotting disorder worsens, this can cause your dog to start coughing up blood with continued bleeding.

Clotting and coagulation disorders can be due to autoimmune diseases, poisons or toxins, tick-borne diseases, liver failure, or cancer. It is always best to bring your pet to the emergency room right away so blood work and imaging diagnostics can be performed to determine the cause of the bleeding and proper treatment for your pet.

#11. Mass in the Lungs that Has Ruptured

Cancer and other masses in the lungs can cause a dog to cough up blood if they rupture. Treatment options for lung masses include surgical removal and chemotherapy, both of which can be costly. The cost of surgery can range from $3,000 upwards, while chemotherapy can cost up to $10,000 in some cases.

#12. Severe Respiratory Infection

Respiratory infections such as pneumonia can cause damage and inflammation to the lungs, leading to coughing up blood. Mild respiratory infections can be treated with antihistamines or the steam from a hot shower. More serious infections may need antibiotics or hospitalization. The cost of treating a respiratory infection can range from $200 to $1500 or more.

#13. Gastrointestinal (GI) Ulceration

Gastrointestinal ulcers can cause dogs to cough up blood that looks like brownish coffee grounds. Vomiting, GI infections, or other underlying conditions can be the cause of these ulcers. Treatment for GI ulcers may include medication and, in severe cases, surgery to repair perforation of the stomach. The cost of treatment for GI ulcers can range from $300 to $5,000, depending on the severity of the condition and the required interventions.

In conclusion, coughing up blood in dogs is a symptom that should never be ignored. It is very important to see a vet as soon as possible to find out what’s wrong and start the right treatment. The cost of treatment for hemoptysis can vary a lot depending on what caused it, how bad it is, and what kind of medical care is needed. Early diagnosis and treatment can help make sure that your pet has the best possible outcome.

How to Help Your Dog

If your dog is coughing up blood or vomiting blood, it is important to take action to help them. While a visit to the vet is usually necessary, there are some steps you can take at home to help your dog.

#1. The first step is to feed your dog a bland diet of chicken and rice. If a gastrointestinal problem is what’s causing the blood, this may be helpful. It is important to monitor your dog’s eating habits and make sure they are still drinking water.

#2. The second step is to allow your dog to rest in a warm area away from other pets. If a respiratory issue is the cause of the blood, this will allow your dog to relax and be comfortable.

It is important to note that any medications should only be given after consulting with your vet. You should also keep an eye on your dog for any other health problems and take it to the vet if it acts strangely or coughs up blood more than once.

What’s The Best Time To Call The Vet?

In some cases, it may be necessary to take your dog to the vet immediately. If your dog keeps coughing up blood or throwing up blood, has pale or blue gums, has trouble breathing, isn’t eating or drinking, or is very tired, these are all signs that he needs to see a vet right away.

When you take your dog to the vet, they will likely run blood tests and take x-rays or ultrasounds to determine the cause of the blood. They may also test for heartworms if your dog is not on heartworm prevention and lives in an area known for heartworm disease.

Once the cause of the blood is determined, your vet will be able to treat your dog. This may involve heartworm treatment, surgery, or medication to treat an infection.

It is important to understand that some of the issues causing your dog to cough up blood can be life-threatening. But most respiratory problems can be treated, and not all of them are bad news.

What Should You Do Before Visiting a Vet?

Make sure you take pictures of the blood your dog coughed up or vomited before you visit your vet. This can help your vet determine the cause of the blood. It is also important to keep your dog calm and not allow them to exhaust themselves by playing.

How to Prevent Your Dog from Coughing Up Blood

Once you have been able to identify the main reason your dog is coughing up blood with professional help, treatment and prevention become easier. However, if your dog has Hematemesis, prevention may not be possible if, for example, it is gastric cancer.

On the bright side, your veterinarian can arrange a healthy diet and exercise for your dog, which may significantly help with gastritis and ulcers. 

For Pulmonary Vascular disease, a healthy diet and exercise can work miracles in preventing build-ups in the arteries of your dog. At the same time, you can prevent heartworms through proper medication. 

On top of that, you can prevent your dog from getting infected by Tuberculosis by keeping it away from infected human or animal patients. Furthermore, to prevent the bacteria of TB from infecting your dog, don’t let your dog eat the carcass of dead animals that may be carrying the bacteria. 

For the most part, living in a clean and natural environment, eating a healthy diet, and regular exercising can keep most diseases at bay. 

To Sum Up

It is okay for your dog to cough sometimes, and a simple home remedy for colds can cure that. Even when your dog is coughing up blood and is already in treatment with the veterinarian, you can give them soothing, hot soups to drink. 

However, be very mindful of what you feed it because you don’t want to worsen its condition. Above all, you must take permission from your veterinarian before feeding your dog anything new. 

On the whole, never miss any health check-ups for your dog with the vet so that even if there is a disease infecting it, the doctor can figure it out sooner. In any case, we hope this article was helpful and informative. 

Brenda Thompson

Brenda Thompson is an expert in dog behavior with more than a decade of experience who is also passionate about working with cats and birds. Besides contributing pet content to The petdogplanet.com, she's a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant. Brenda received her Bachelor of Science from Colorado College in 2014. She has taken classes on writing and remote animal behavior consulting in addition to classes on how to deal with aggressive dogs and problems with litter boxes. In 2016, she got her dog behavior consulting certification and joined the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.

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One Comment

  1. Great article addressing what to do when such issues arise. No one wants to have to practice these, but whenever (if ever) it happens, we are well aware. Also, I’ll like to stress how in situations like this, asides from dealing with the matter as a first aid, the vet shouldn’t be left out of the recovery process.

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