It can be very scary to see your dog vomit anything, let alone blood. If you ever experience this, it's natural to quickly wonder why, but it's also important to stay calm. Seeing specks of blood in dog vomit is definitely unnerving and necessitates a call to your local veterinarian to get your dog checked out. Remember that getting your dog checked early for specks of blood in dog vomit can lead to a better prognosis in most cases. The first thing you should do if you think you notice blood in your dog's vomit is contact your veterinarian immediately. Below are some of the steps they may walk you through to help determine the cause, but more than likely, they will want you to bring in your dog ASAP.

1. Examine the Vomit

As a pet parent, it's important to note any and all details if your dog is vomiting blood and to examine what exactly your dog brought up. If the sight of vomit makes your stomach feel queasy, you can capture a quick picture of the mess and let your veterinarian review the image as an alternative to a close inspection.

Note the color of the vomit. If your dog is vomiting blood that is bright red, that indicates that something in the digestive tract has been recently bleeding, usually in the esophagus or stomach. If the blood is dark, clotted or looks like coffee grounds, that means the blood is partially digested and that something has either been bleeding for a while or bled a while ago. Keep note of whether there are simply some specks of blood in dog vomit or if there are larger amounts.

Check to see if there is anything else weird in the vomit, like pieces of a chewed up toy or evidence of rat bait, which can look like green granules. Take a picture of what you find to show your veterinarian.

2. Understand What May Have Caused the Problem

When your dog is vomiting blood, remember to take a breath and take a moment to observe your pet. There are many reasons why a dog may vomit blood, but they're usually related to irritation or trauma of the upper digestive system, including the esophagus (the tube that connects the mouth and the stomach) and the stomach. It can also happen if they are swallowing blood from nose bleeds draining into the back of their throat.

If you see bloody vomit, it might be due to something as simple as injured gums. Sometimes, dogs can chew aggressively on a toy or bone and cut their gums, which can result in some bloody discharge from the dog's mouth. Lift your dog's lips and take a look to see if an oral injury is present. If your dog is in pain, they may react differently from when they are feeling like themselves; in this instance, your dog may nip, bite or growl at you. It might be worth wearing gloves and having a partner hold your dog. If the situation gets out of hand and your dog is not being cooperative, it's best to try and find a way to get them to the veterinarian and have a professional examine their mouth for signs of trauma.

3. Visit Your Local Veterinarian

Sometimes a dog that is coughing up bloody sputum from the lungs or trachea can be confused with vomiting blood. There are many things that can cause a dog to cough up bloody discharge, including congestive heart failure and heartworm disease. If you see your dog coughing up anything pink, red or that looks like coffee grounds, it's time to enlist the help of your local veterinarian.

At the hospital, your veterinarian will examine your dog and determine if any tests are required. Testing depends on the cause of the problem and can include things like X-rays or bloodwork. Treatment depends on the underlying cause. If it is something like an irritated digestive tract or a stomach ulcer, then medication may be prescribed. Your veterinarian may also start your pup on therapeutic food that is easy to digest while their GI tract recovers. Remember, the sooner you are seen, the better your pet's prognosis (and your peace of mind) will be.

Dr. Sarah Wooten Dr. Sarah Wooten

Dr. Sarah Wooten graduated from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 2002. A member of the American Society of Veterinary Journalists, Dr. Wooten divides her professional time between small animal practice in Greeley, Colorado, public speaking on associate issues, leadership, and client communication, and writing. She enjoys camping with her family, skiing, SCUBA, and participating in triathlons.