Can Stress Cause Dogs to Have Bloody Diarrhea?

Yes, stress and anxiety may play a part in the development of bloody diarrhea. A sudden onset of stress may cause a gastrointestinal upset, which in turn, increases the likelihood of diarrhea.

Any factors that affect the gastrointestinal tract, such as stress or an infection, could reduce the gastrointestinal transit time, which refers to the time it takes for food to travel through the intestines. The shorter the transit time, the smaller the volume of liquid the intestines can absorb.

The fact that you also see bright red blood in the diarrhea may indicate an issue with the colon. Stress can exacerbate a condition called colitis, which refers to the inflammation of the colon. In addition to diarrhea, other common symptoms of colitis include increasing bowel movements and vomiting.

Stressful Events for Dogs

It becomes increasingly obvious that stress is the primary cause of the bloody diarrhea when it happens at the same time as a life-changing event. For dogs, this may include a change in environment such as when you move to a new house, or when they are introduced to a handful of new dogs and humans.

Fortunately, in situations like this, the diarrhea episode is often short-lived and you should see an improvement in your dog’s stool within a day or two. If, however, your dog continues to have bloody diarrhea after 24 hours and they start to act lethargic at any point then you should seek a vet immediately.

Other Causes of Bloody Diarrhea

Stress isn’t the only cause of bloody diarrhea. Dogs may also experience a bloody stool episode due to the following factors and conditions.

Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE)
HGE can cause dogs to have severe cases of vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Unfortunately, the causes of this disorder is not fully known but it tends to be more common with young adult dogs and smaller dog breeds like toy poodles and miniature schnauzers.

Dogs that suffer from HGE must be treated as soon as possible as this condition can be fatal if left untreated. Vets will be able to diagnose the condition by examining a sample of the dog’s stool.

Intestinal Parasites
The presence of parasites like whipworms and tapeworms may also cause dogs to have an episode of bloody diarrhea. These parasites will embed themselves into the intestinal walls and suck out blood. A large population of adult worms in the large intestines can cause abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea.

Foreign Food
Dogs can also get bloody stools if they eat something they shouldn’t. For example, a dog that accidentally eats a non-food item like clothing can develop diarrhea due to the trauma the item causes on the gastrointestinal tract.

Some of these items, especially if they are sharp, may pierce the lining of the intestines or the rectum, which causes blood to get mixed into the stool. It’s important to visit a vet immediately if you think your dog consumed a foreign object.

What to Do When Your Dog has Bloody Diarrhea

Here are a couple of tips for handling dogs that have a sudden case of bloody diarrhea.

1. Food that Counters Diarrhea
There are certain types of food that are known to help dogs with diarrhea, such as pumpkin, bland rice, and chicken. We wouldn’t recommend feeding your dog these items unless the vet gave you explicit instructions to do so. Keep in mind a sudden change in diet can worsen a dog’s stomach problem.

2. Keep Your Dog Hydrated
A prolonged episode of diarrhea will cause the dog’s body to lose more water than it can take in. Make sure your dog has access to plenty of clean water to prevent him from getting dehydrated.

3. Fast Your Dog
If you have an adult dog then it may help to fast him for about 12 to 24 hours. Fasting can give the digestive system an opportunity to relax and get itself back on track. You shouldn’t fast puppies or senior dogs as their need more nutrients are greater. Again, talk with your vet first to determine if fasting is the right approach.

Disclaimer: The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a veterinarian when in doubt.


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