Having spent the last ten years training and working as a veterinary surgeon, at this point I consider myself something of an expert when it comes to canine butt bleeding.
An odd claim to fame it’s true (and not a very appropriate dinner party conversation starter), but certainly a useful area of interest given how relatively common the concern of a dog bleeding from their butt is amongst owners.
Our canine companions can experience anal and peri-anal bleeding for a variety of different reasons, ranging from relatively innocent causes through to more serious health concerns.
This article will cover the most common causes of bleeding from the anus and anal area in dogs, to guide owners in the best steps to take to help their dog, and what veterinary treatment options to expect.
Why is my dog bleeding from their butt?
You might notice blood from your dog’s butt for 4 main reasons: Anal gland disease, bloody diarrhea, rectal bleeding and bleeding of the skin surrounding the anus.
It’s important to try an identify the underlying source of any blood you are noticing from your dog’s back end to ensure they get the proper treatment.
Let cover the top 4 reasons why a dog might bleed from their butt in more detail:
Bleeding from the Anal Glands
A number of problems with your dog’s anal glands can result in blood coming from your dog’s anus, or blood being visible on the skin close to the anal opening.
You may have noticed your dog scooting their bottom on the ground if he or she is suffering with an anal gland issue, or your dog may appear swollen around the anus. They may also provide clues that they are experiencing pain around this area, such as clamping their tail tightly down, or resisting any attempts you make to examine your dog’s butt.
If you dog has an anal gland infection, your veterinarian is likely to prescribe antibiotics and anti-inflammatory pain relief medication. Once your dog is more comfortable, your vet will need to express your dog’s anal glands. Occasionally this will need to be done under sedation where pets are very painful. In some cases, it can be helpful to instil antibiotic liquid directly into the affected anal gland(s) using a small catheter; this too will need to be carried out under sedation, if your vet deems that this is the best course of treatment for your pet.
If your dog has developed an anal gland abscess, this may need to be lanced and drained under general anaesthetic. However, in many causes anal gland abscesses have already ruptured out through the skin next to the anus by the time pets make it into our consult rooms.
Treatment of a ruptured anal sac abscess can often be successful using oral antibiotics and anti-inflammatory pain relief. Occasionally, surgical intervention or even complete surgical removal of the anal gland(s) may be required.
One very common cause of a dog bleeding from their rear end is the presence of blood in your dog’s stool.
If your dog has mild diarrhea with only a small or moderate amount of blood present, but otherwise seems completely well, you can try feeding a bland diet at home for a day or two before resorting to a visit to the vet.
You should also ask your vet to prescribe an effective worming treatment to clear any intestinal parasites, if your dog is not currently up to date with worming. Two of the most common causes of blood in the poop are dietary indiscretion and intestinal parasites; oftentimes providing worming treatment and feeding an easily digestible diet such as plain cooked chicken and rice for several days will allow mild bloody diarrhea to resolve on it’s own.
Of course, the above is only appropriate if your dog is still bright, eating, drinking and behaving normally. If he or she is lethargic, inappetent or vomiting, it’s best to book an veterinarian appointment. Bloody stools can reflect a variety of conditions that require medical treatment, including serious conditions such as hemorrhagic gastroenteritis.
Take your dog to the vet immediately if he or she has very watery bloody diarrhea, especially if this is in combination with lethargy or vomiting. In these situations, dogs can rapidly become dehydrated, and dehydration can certainly prove fatal if not addressed and corrected in a timely manner with supportive medical treatment and intravenous fluid therapy (a drip).
The rectum is the last part of your dog’s digestive tract, right before the anus. With rectal bleeding, you may notice streaks of fresh, bright red blood present in your dog’s poop.
Rectal bleeding may be due to trauma; for example, sharp foreign bodies such as bone or wood splinters inside the rectum can literally scratch or tear the delicate rectal lining, resulting in bleeding.
Of course, prevention is always better than cure, and so making sure your dog does not have any opportunity to consume bones or sticks is highly advisable.
Rectal bleeding can also occur due to straining to defecate, for example, in cases of constipation, or even in cases of diarrhea where the need to defecate can be frequent and urgent. Take your dog to see a veterinarian if they are constipated or experiencing diarrhea that is causing rectal bleeds.
Finally, rectal bleeding may occur due to rectal polyps or tumors arising from the lining or wall of the rectum. Common signs of polyps or tumors include tenesmus (that is, straining to defecate with very little or even no feces being passed); the presence of blood in your dog’s stool; and diarrhea. Polyps and tumors in the rectum can usually be felt by a veterinarian during a digital rectal exam.
Treatment for polyps and masses inside the rectum involves endoscopic or surgical removal of the growth(s) under general anesthetic. Your veterinarian will likely also want to send a biopsy sample away for examination at the lab to confirm whether a growth is benign or cancerous.
Bleeding from the Skin around the Anus
Dogs can bleed from the skin around the anus due to dermatitis or a superficial skin infection; irritation due to allergies; or anal furunculosis.
Whilst dermatitis, superficial skin infections and allergic skin irritation can occur pretty much anywhere on your dog’s skin, anal furunculosis only occurs on the anal skin.
Let’s take a closer look at this condition.
Anal furunculosis is a chronic (long-term) inflammatory condition that affects the immediate area around a dog’s anus. The disease most commonly affected middle aged or older German Shepherd dogs (Alsatians).
In fact, around 80% of cases of anal furunculosis occur in Alsatians, although other breeds can sometimes be affected.
The signs of anal furunculosis include very sore-looking skin, ulcers, bleeding, and small holes (called ‘sinus tracts’) appearing in the skin immediately around the anus.
The skin around the anus typically becomes very painful, and your dog may seem particularly uncomfortable when going to the toilet. There is also often a foul smell to the anal skin in cases of anal furunculosis.
Treatment for this condition involves using immunosuppressive medications such as steroids or ciclosporin, both of which are usually taken orally. Whilst ciclosporin is more expensive than steroids, it is the drug of choice where possible, and often remission of the furunculosis can be achieved following a few months of treatment.
How can I tell if my dog has internal bleeding?
Determining whether the blood from your dog’s anus is coming from internally or externally is essential. Pale gums, rapid breathing, cold extremities and weakness are all potential signs of internal bleeding.
Why is my dog bleeding from his anus and has diarrhea?
The uncomfortable sensation of needing to poop when your dog has diarrhea can lead to your dog pooping more often. This can result in straining and soreness of the anus, sometimes resulting in bleeding from this area.
Why is my dog pooping blood but acting fine?
The presence of blood in your dog’s stool while they appear to be acting fine could be due to various factors such as dietary indiscretion, dietary changes, anal gland problems or parasitic infection. See our guide for more information.