Black Tarry Stool In Dogs (Melena)

What Does Melena Mean?

The term melena is used to describe a black, tarry appearing feces, which takes place due to the existence of digested blood in the intestines, or to internal bleeding that has actually passed into the intestine.

Melena in Dogs

Melena is generally seen due to bleeding in the upper portion of the intestinal tract. It has actually likewise been seen in dogs after they have actually consumed a sufficient amount of blood from the oral cavity or breathing tract. It is not a disease in itself but a symptom of some other underlying disease. The dark color of the blood is due to the oxidation of iron in the hemoglobin (the oxygen bring pigment of red blood cells) as it travels through the small intestine and colon.

black stool melena

Symptoms and Types

The symptoms associate with the underlying cause and area of bleeding.

In dogs, in addition to black tarry stool also experience the following symptoms:

  • Vomit including blood
  • Lack of cravings
  • Weight loss
  • Weak point
  • Pale mucus membranes
  • Anemia

In dogs with bleeding in breathing tract:

  • Sneezing
  • Spending blood
  • Pale mucus membranes
  • Weakness
  • Difficult breathing
  • In patients with unusual blood clotting disorders
  • Nose bleed
  • Blood in urine
  • Blood in eye (hyphema).
  • Anemia.
black stool melena
Black stool (melena) in dog

Causes of Black Tarry Stool In Dogs

  • Ulcers in the intestinal system.
  • Tumors of the esophagus or stomach.
  • Infections.
  • Foreign body in the intestinal system.
  • Disorders involving swelling of the digestive system.
  • Kidney failure.
  • Drug toxicity (e.g., anticoagulant drugs).
  • Diet containing raw food.
  • Pneumonia.
  • Injury.
  • Disorders including abnormal clotting of blood.


You will have to offer an extensive history of your dog’s health, beginning of symptoms, and possible events that might have caused this condition. The history you offer may provide your veterinarian ideas regarding where the blood is originating from. After taking a complete history, your family pet’s vet will conduct a complete health examination. Basic lab tests include a complete blood count (CBC), biochemistry profile, and urinalysis. The results of these tests will depend upon the underlying cause of the issue.

Blood screening may reveal anemia with smaller sized (microcytic) and paler than normal (hypochromic) red cell. In cases with chronic blood loss the anemia is usually nonregenerative, indicating the bone marrow does not respond in a regular method to the body’s increased need for red blood cells. In acute cases the anemia is mainly regenerative, as the bone marrow reacts typically to the body’s increased demands by providing new red blood cells.

Other abnormalities causes black tarry stool may include a reduced number of platelets (the cells accountable for blood clotting), an increased number of a kind of white blood cells called neutrophils (neutrophilia), and a decrease in the number of both red blood cells and leukocyte. A biochemistry profile may expose changes connected to a diseased state other than intestinal tract causes of melena, consisting of those of the kidney and liver. The urinalysis may expose blood in the urine, which is typically seen in patients with blood clotting defects.

Abdominal x-rays will be taken to look for any masses, foreign bodies that may have been swallowed, and irregularities in the size and shape of the kidneys and/or liver. Thoracic (chest) x-rays will help in recognizing sores of the lungs and esophagus, also a relatively common underlying cause for melena.

Ultrasounds are likewise used for internal imaging, and will often return more detailed images of the abdominal cavity and gastrointestinal tract. Ultrasound may expose masses, liver disease, swelling of the pancreas, or kidney disease. Another diagnostic tool that your veterinarian is likely to use is an endoscope, a versatile tube that is threaded down into the stomach through the esophagus for direct visualization of masses and/or ulcers in the esophagus, stomach, and/or intestines. Endoscopy also assists in taking biopsy samples for tissue analysis and removing the foreign body, if there is one present.

Black Stool In Dogs Treatment

The significant objective of therapy is to treat the underlying disease, consisting of illness of the kidney, liver, and lungs. Effective treatment should ultimately resolve the issue of melena. Fluid therapy will be given to replace deficit fluids in the body, and in some patients with severe blood loss and anemia, a whole blood transfusion may be needed. Patients experiencing constant vomiting will need medication both to manage the vomiting and to permit them to be able to hold their food long enough for it to absorb. In cases of severe ulcers or tumor( s) in the gastrointestinal tract, surgery might be needed.

Living and Management

The period and kind of treatment provided to your dog will depend upon the underlying cause of the melena. Initially, daily blood screening might be needed to assess your dog for continuous anemia, which might develop into weekly screening when your dog’s health has actually stabilized. In cases with routine vomiting episodes, hydration will have to be kept to fix fluid deficits. See your dog for the existence of any blood or color changes in its stool during treatment and notify your veterinarian if anything appears unusual, including behavioral changes.

Many patients will recuperate once the underlying disease is treated. As melena is simply a symptom, the overall prognosis will depend upon the medical diagnosis and treatment of the underlying disease or condition.

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