My Dog Vomited Black Liquid
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The color of a dog's vomit can tell us a lot about its cause. Whether relatively clear or opaque, the color of their vomit is not only determined by what they have eaten. The contents of the animal's stomach can include bodily fluids which shouldn't be in there, including blood. When a dog is throwing up black or dark brown liquid, it is likely due to partially digested blood. Common causes include ulcers in the gastrointestinal tract, a side-effect of medication or even the failure of various internal organs.
In this AnimalWised article, we look what may have happened if your dog vomited black liquid. We look at the underlying causes, what else we need to consider and how to treat the problem.
Why does my dog vomit black liquid?
When vomit appears in a feline's vomit, it is known as hematemesis. This is something we need to differentiated between coughing up blood. Hematemesis is due to bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract, whereas coughing up blood is likely from the respiratory tract. While the ranges are diverse, hematemesis is most commonly associated with problems in the GI tract.
We can tell a little about where the blood is from by its color in the vomit. With red blood, we know the bleeding is fresh so it is likely to have come from somewhere in the first sections of the digestive system. These include the mouth, esophagus or, in some cases, the stomach.
When a dog vomits will also help us to understand the problem. For example, if a dog vomits after eating, it is more likely to be due to a problem in their digestive system.
Black vomit or that which has started to darken implies the blood is older. When blood begins to be digested, it will change color, often to the color of dark coffee beans. The causes of black vomit in dogs include:
- Ulcer or erosion of the gastrointestinal tract (very common)
- Foreign bodies in the digestive tract
- Ingestion of bones
- Tumors: carcinoma, lymphoma, leiomyoma
- Pythiosis: caused by an oomycete
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Drugs: NSAIDs or glucocorticoids (dexamethasone)
- Liver disease
- Renal disease
- Hypoadrenocorticism (Addison's disease)
- Acute gastritis
- Acute hemorrhagic diarrheal syndrome
- Gastric polyps
- Thrombocytopenia (low platelet count) or dysfunction
- Coagulation factor deficiency
- Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC)
- Extra-digestive diseases: torsion of a lung or lung tumor
There are only rare cases when the black liquid in a dog's vomit is not due to blood. One such alternate cause would be if the dog had ingested something which was already black, such as a black ink cartridge or licorice. In these cases, you should look to see what they have eaten or any other signs which can help determine the cause.
Symptoms of hematemesis in dogs
Although throwing up black stuff is the most obvious symptom of hematemesis in dogs, other clinical signs will also help us to know if the dog is affected by it. This is particularly helpful if the dog throws up somewhere we cannot see:
- Black stools
- Abdominal pain
Depending on the underlying disease, other clinical signs may include:
- Kidney idease: polyuria-polydipsia, uremia and weight.
- Liver disease: jaundice, loss of appetite and general malaise.
- Tumors: weight loss and weakness.
- Pancreatitis: acute abdominal pain.
- Acute hemorrhagic diarrheal syndrome: bloody diarrhea.
- Lung disease: difficulty breathing and other signs of respiratory distress.
- Thrombocytopenia or coagulopathies: internal bleeding.
As the color of a dog's vomit can point to its cause, we should note there is a color chart of dog vomit. This is how we can tell the difference betweem why a dog is throwing up yellow bile or if they are vomiting white foam.
Diagnosing the cause of dog vomiting black liquid
Due to the fact black vomit in dogs can be caused by both intra- and extra-gastrointestinal diseases. Part of the diagnosis is to rule out pathologies and limit the scope. This requires various diagnostic tests, ranging from a physical examination to endoscopic imaging tests. To diagnose a dog vomiting black liquid, the veterinarian will perform some combination of the following tests:
- Blood analysis and biochemistry: carrying out a blood analysis and biochemistry to look for alterations in the hemogram (complete blood test). They will look for anemia due to bleeding, azotemia (increased urea and creatinine) due to kidney disease or alteration of liver enzymes if there is pathology in the liver or bile ducts.
- Urine and stool analysis: a urine and stool analysis is also recommended.
- Platelet count: assess for coagulopathy with a platelet count and measurement of the bleeding time of the oral mucosa (gums).
- Ultrasound: they will also have to look for pancreatitis, with specific tests including an ultrasound.
- Look for signs of poisoning: to find out if poisoning has occurred.
- X-rays: to assess the state of the respiratory system and lungs to determine if the bleeding is coming from there.
- Endoscopy or gastroscopy: they may perform an endoscopy or gastroscopy in search of lesions and bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract. This will usually accompany an abdominal ultrasound to locate foreign bodies, masses or organic alteration indicative of disease.
- Endoscopy of the trachea: endoscopy of the trachea and choanae (interior nostrils) may also be helpful to look for hidden respiratory bleeding.
Treatment for dogs vomiting black liquid
The correct treatment for a dog vomiting black will depend on the underlying cause. However, since bleeding occurs, it will be necessary to determine the hematocrit and total protein concentration in the blood to assess the danger of hypovolemic shock (due to insufficient blood). If this is likely, a transfusion will need to be carried out.
One of the most important aspects of treatment is to administer to their symptoms. This will include fluid therapy to counteract dehydration in the dog, as well as antiemetics, antacids and appetite stimulants where appropriate.
When the specific underlying disease has been determined, a correlating specific treatment will need to be carried out. Since bleeding is the cause, some may require medication or even surgical intervention. In the case of tumors, chemotherapy for dogs may even need to be carried out.
Is vomiting blood fatal for dogs?
As we have stated, a dog usually vomits black liquid when they have some form of internal bleeding. Whether this is due to a chronic or acute problem, damage has been done to the tissue of their body to cause bleeding. If the bleeding is in the gastrointestinal tract, it can cause problems which are hard to treat, especially without surgical intervention.
Since the causes of a dog vomiting black liquid are so varied and potentially fatal, you need to take the dog to a veterinarian immediately. They will be able to carry out the relevant diagnostic tests and determine the correct course of treatment. It is not possible to state whether a dog vomiting blood will be fatal, but the potential for it to be life-threatening makes it a symptom of disease in dogs we cannot ignore.
Vomiting blood could be a sign the dog is dying, so we need to take it seriously. There are symptoms a dog's life may be in jeopardy, something you can learn about further in our video we share below:
This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to My Dog Vomited Black Liquid, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.
- RW Nelson. (2020). Small Animal Internal Medicine, 6th Edition. Grupo Asís Biomedia SL
- J. Cerón, MJ Fernández, C. García, M. Hervera, SM Angulo, D. Pérez, C. Pérez, G. Santamarina. (2016). Clinical Manual of Internal Medicine in Small Animals I. ESVPS, Ed. SM Publishing Ltd. Sheffield, UK.