Black Tarry Stool In Dogs (Melena)

black stool 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.

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.

References and used sources

Reyus Mammadli
Having engineering and medical education, in recent years actively engaged in the study of the development, reproduction of domestic animals. Special attention is paid to the treatment and prevention of diseases of Pets. Author of several hundred articles about health and healthy lifestyle. In recent years, he has been treating Pets and birds together with specialists. In their articles on shares both his knowledge and experience, and, based on reliable sources, methods of primary diagnosis of diseases in Pets and General recommendations for their possible treatment. Of course, the articles are only informative. In each case, diagnosis and treatment should be carried out and prescribed by a qualified veterinarian.
Pet Health
Discussing the problem of canine melena below:

  1. Sarah Gulden

    My dog has been pooping black tar with blood in it what home remedies can I do

    1. Rupert

      Go to the vet immediately! My precious pup was diagnosed with Melena and is undergoing treatment now. The main culprit wss ‘hookworms’ and its causing his intestines to bleed thus the black poop. Hopefully he will recover fast. ?

  2. Reyus Mammadli author

    The first thing I noticed in my Jack – is the blood from the nose. I admit, very frightened. Immediately went to the vet. He found other symptoms of melena, which I did not notice (my fault, of course).

    Treatment consists of a change in the lifestyle of the dog, nutritional supplements to compensate fluids and support the liver, lungs and other organs. Costly, but what to do.

    1. Reyus Mammadli author

      Louis, it’s strange that you didn’t notice your dog’s black tarry feces. It probably lasted more than one week.

  3. Helen

    I saw such horror, and I took my Barbara to a vet clinic. Examination showed that the dog has an ulcer. And how I had not noticed that she was not eating enough and lost weight, feces was like tarry and color was black. Now she is being treated and is already recovering.

  4. Jules_Smiles

    My boyfriend once asked me to walk his dog. He had to finish some school project or whatever. So during this walk his dog’s stool was black and tarry as in those pictures. Big yikes. I told him that and his reply was “I know”… This dude cannot even take care of his dog properly LOL Anyways, he took his dog to the vet and they treated that stuff, whatever that was.

  5. Barb201

    I can’t imagine what it’s like dealing with this stuff in your lovely pet. Fortunately, my Felicia and I have never had such problems (black feces in dog). But my cousin and her dog are not as fortunate, I suppose. She took her dog to the vet and it turned out that the dog had a foreign body in the intestinal system. They had to extract it. Must have been gross…

  6. Katy_Smith

    My mom’s dog Celina had this so-called melena. We took her to a lot of different vets, but no one quite knew what had been wrong with her. Only one of the veterinarian could diagnose a kidney failure. It was a long time ago so maybe they didn’t have necessary equipment for it or something. Anyways, Celina passed a few days after being diagnosed this. But my mother and I don’t blame anyone for it.

  7. Daniela Eșanu

    Damn, articles like this one remind why I don’t have a pet. Of course, it’s nice having a small lovely friend who would follow you around and love you. But things like this are way too difficult to deal with emotionally. I don’t think I would ever recover after treating my dog with melena.

  8. Mielle

    My Jack today was black tarry stool. I’ve never seen anything like it. What am I to do? Is it safe?

    1. Charlie Fatters

      Probably okay. Nevertheless, the only way to test for occult blood (occult blood provides as black, tarry), if that is what you are concerned about, is to take a fresh feces sample to her vet for a regular yearly test, parasites could be ruled out too.

  9. Ken Albright

    I just recently changed my dogs from a chicken dish to beef. The difference in the color of their poop was drastic. Together with the hot sun darkening (almost black) them up, I was a little concerned too. Thinking about both dogs changed and it was consistent with the food rotation, I didn’t stress excessive. Likewise, there does not seem to be any change in their behavior or health. However, if you are really concerned you could constantly take a sample to the vet.

  10. Kyle

    My dog’s stool is black and tarry, recommending Melena, potentially since he ingested some blood in his mouth long ago, however he’s weak. Is that normal?

    1. Sherman Heyes

      If he consumed blood within the past 24 or so hours then the tarry stool could be from that. However if the blood consumption happened longer earlier, and considering he is weak, then that points to an acute gastrointestinal issue, such as a gastric bleed (e.g. Bleeding ulcer), or a hemorrhage where in between the mouth/nose and the little intestinal tracts. This is an emergency situation and you require to take your dog to a veterinarian or Pet ER ASAP (today).

  11. Connor Klaus

    I took my dog to the vet yesterday after 2 days of not consuming and constant throwing up, like 4 + times a day due to continuously eating lawn, which ended up throwing up yard and a yellow-colored like compound. The veterinarian stated it could be pancreatitis, fluids and a blood test was done, however i won’t know till tomorrow since they are closed today. in the future that night he started defecating digested turf, but a little while later on he simply defecated a greenish liquid. This morning after providing him a boring meal, he defecated a melena like feces, all of it was a dark gelatinous bloody like substance and it was a reasonable quantity. Should i right away go to another veterinarian? or wait if it takes place once again? he walks around and does not look like he is in any pain however rather lethargic.

    1. Worlick

      That takes place when the intestines get irritated. I know it is a scary sight. What you are describing occurred to my hound. It was a vicious cycle. I took him off meat for a couple of months and home cooked for him. After the first week his symptoms figured out. If you wish to utilize dog food you can begin by choosing a limited component food. There are some made by Blue Buffalo Basic, Pure Vita, Natural balance but I wont suggest a food where potato is the first ingredient and Zignature which I believe is the best. You require a food with only one meat source in it and a meat your dog has actually never consumed to start eliminating meats your dog can’t tolerate. You need 6 to 8 weeks on each meat to see if it works so do not transfer to quickly.

  12. Seryl Albright

    6 month old GSD with really good coat, activity level, consuming well and drinking well. The only concerning thing is that his stool is PITCH black, and I’ve checked out multiple threads and posts stating that the black color is not a good indication. Considering he’s otherwise showing no signs of being unhealthy, is this something to be concerned about? He is having solid stools. I’m feeding him TOTW/Orijen (either a mix or various everyday) in the morning and raw at night. Does anybody else have dogs that have black stools?

    1. Doug Foreman

      A pitch black stool generally indicates an upper GI bleed. It is absorbed blood.

      That indicates your dog is bleeding from his stomach or small intestinal tract. It might be any number of things. Bacterial infection, ulcer, foreign object (bone, rock etc.), perforation of intestine and so on.

      This is something I would take him to the vet for ASAP. Check his gums and mucous membranes (under his lower eyelid) for pink-color. If they are pale or gray the dog is most likely anemic and requires to be seen immediately to stop the bleeding.

      My GSD has an upper GI bleed a year ago with pitch black tarry stool. She was borderline badly anemic since of it. It took 2 courses of various antibiotics to stop the bleeding which was most likely due to a bacterial infection/ulceration.