As much as I don’t want to frighten you unnecessarily, throughout this article my aim is to convince you to take quick and decisive action if you do suddenly discover blood in your dog’s water dish.
While it can be something completely benign, there’s unfortunately also a decent chance that there is something serious happening inside your dog’s body that needs to be treated as soon as possible. By doing so, you could save your dog’s life.
Blood in a dog’s water bowl could indicate that it is bleeding from the gums or mouth, which can be caused by dental disease or an injury. If this is indeed the case, then it will be an easy problem to resolve.
However, it is also possible that an infection, tumor, polyps, internal bleeding or other serious illness is causing your dog to bleed.
While I will do my best to give you as much information on these conditions as I can, these issues really can only be tackled off the internet and in a vet’s office.
There are a variety of causes that could result in a dog bleeding from its nose or mouth. They range from the comparatively less serious such as physical trauma or gum disease, to the more severe like internal bleeding or cancer.
Firstly, it’s a good idea to try to locate the general area of bleeding.
Are there little drops of blood coming out of your dog’s nose?
If the fur around its jaw is stained, check around and inside the mouth. Is a tooth or an area of gum tissue bleeding?
What about the roof or the sides of the mouth?
Or does it all look pretty clear? In that case, the blood may be originating from deeper inside the body and an X-ray will be necessary to determine the source of the hemorrhage.
Cuts, scrapes and scratches can all cause bleeding inside the mouth of a dog. These can result from biting and chewing on rough or sharp objects like bones, bark or pins. Physical trauma can also appear in the form of blockages, such as seeds or grass stuck in nasal passages.
In the grand scheme of things, physical trauma is not as critical as the rest of the entries on this list- as long as the laceration is not too big, the blockage can be removed, and the bleeding can be stopped. Throat injuries are more complicated as they will tend to bleed more profusely.
Professional treatment will usually be required to treat the wound properly, even if it is small. This is due to the softer, more delicate nature of the tissue in the oral cavity. Having the area stitched up is a much better course of action than leaving it open and hoping for the best.
Before any suturing, the vet will usually thoroughly clean the area with warm saline and oral antiseptic solution.
Unhealthy and traumatized tissue may also be removed, all in order to prevent inflammation and bacterial infection. These are steps that you might not be able to carry out properly unless you do take your dog to the vet.
If the bleeding is coming from the nose, X-rays, MRI’s or examination with an endoscope may be necessary to see the inside of the nasal passage.
The only true way to prevent your dog from cutting up the inside of its mouth is to stop it from biting or chewing inappropriate items in the first place.
That means keeping those objects out of reach especially when you aren’t looking, or keeping your dog confined in a safe space either indoors or outside.
When on walks, teach your dog to obey commands such as “Leave it” so that it doesn’t have the opportunity to chew on spiky objects like sticks or acorns.
Loose or infected teeth can also cause bleeding in a dog’s mouth. If you notice blood in a puppy’s water dish, check its mouth for teeth that are coming loose.
As you may already know, puppies replace their baby teeth with permanent adult teeth by the time they are around 6 months old. During this time, it is not uncommon at all to find blood on their chew toys or perhaps in their water as their baby teeth fall off naturally.
However, loose or infected teeth in adult dogs indicate significant decay or gum disease. According to VCA Hospitals, over 80% of dogs over three years of age will have some kind of dental disease.
The most common of these is periodontal disease, which starts off as the more well-known gingivitis. It begins when bacteria in the mouth forms plaque over teeth after each time a dog has something to eat.
Untreated, the surrounding teeth become increasingly infected and inflamed, with decay spreading right down to the root. Due to this inflammation and decay of gum tissue, they become swollen and angry-looking, and more often than not will begin to bleed.
A broken or fractured tooth caused by progressive decay can also cause abscesses to form under the tongue and in the nasal area. This can lead to bleeding from the nose, even though the problem originates in the mouth.
Even worse still, dogs with dental disease are at higher risk of developing complications with their other organs, such as the heart, liver and kidneys.
Treatment will depend on how severe the gum disease is when it is discovered. If it is only in the early stages, then cleaning can be sufficient to treat the problem.
However, as the disease becomes progressively worse, treatment can include rinsing, opening up gum flaps, and even tooth extraction.
As always, it’s vital to take your dog to the vet as soon as you notice any potential signs such as bleeding gums, hypersensitivity, or blood in the water bowl.
Pets WebMD recommends that dogs’ teeth should be brushed twice a day, just like a humans’. Minimizing mouth bacteria by using doggy mouthwashes or toothpastes will go a long way in keeping your dog’s oral hygiene in top shape.
Giving your dog suitable toys and dental chews will also encourage it to clean its teeth by itself. Just make sure that it doesn’t eat the entire bag of Dentastix in one sitting!
Dogs can also develop fungal and bacterial infections in their nose or mouth that can then lead to bloody discharge.
One such condition is Aspergillosis, an infection or growth caused by the Asperlligus fungus. Dogs with compromised immune systems can contract Aspergillosis when they go digging around outside in moldy leaves, compost and decaying plants and inhale the spores.
Once the fungus has set its roots inside the nasal cavity, it begins to destroy the delicate sinus bones. This can cause nosebleeds to occur, and the sides of the dog’s nostrils are often inflamed and rough- breaking open and bleeding easily as well.
Similarly, canines can get yeast infections specifically in the mouth. Candida yeast is also opportunistic and will attack damaged tissues of animals with immunity weaknesses. When it is localized in the oral cavity, it can cause bleeding, difficulty eating, and excessive drooling.
Finally, bacterial and fungal infections of the airway and lungs can also cause a dog to sneeze or cough up blood. Direct infection by bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites can cause disorders such as pneumonia and kennel cough.
If fungal or bacterial infection is suspected, your vet may first conduct X-rays and lab cultures to confirm the existence of the pathogens.
The prognosis for aspergillosis is generally quite good, as long as it is localized in the nasal cavity and hasn’t spread to the rest of the body.
Treatment usually involves putting the dog under anesthesia and infusing the nose and frontal sinuses with antifungal agents. The cavities are then sealed and incubated for an hour to essentially soak in thoroughly before being drained.
The procedure has a success rate of 86%, and all nasal discharge including bleeding should be gone within 2 to 4 weeks. If it is suspected that the fungal infection has eroded the sinuses and entered into the brain, additional therapy will be required and the success rate drops to 60-70%.
Treatment for candidiasis focuses heavily on the improvement and bolstering of the dog’s immune system. Oral medications are usually administered to control the infection.
Even when symptoms have subsided, treatment needs to be continued until a repeat culture shows negative results.
Bacterial pneumonia needs to be treated with antibiotics, appropriately determined by the results of the culture test. Antibiotics need to be catered specifically to the type of bacteria that is present so that it is maximally effective.
Once the dog is well enough, the vet may then recommend multiple sessions of easy exercise every single day. This is to help loosen the mucus secretions in the lungs and to trigger expulsion of the inflammatory material.
Nasal and oral polyps and tumors can also be a possible reason for the blood in your dog’s water bowl.
Oral tumors are unregulated and abnormal clusters of cells located in the mouth. Tumors can be either benign or malignant- the latter being dangerous as they are aggressive and spread elsewhere throughout the body.
Tumor development is unable to be narrowed down to a single cause. Usually their growth is thought to be influenced by a combination of risk factors such as environment and genetics, though male dogs are twice as likely to develop oral cancers.
Tumors vary in form depending on the location, size and shape of the growth, but can be identifiable by their cauliflower-like appearance. They look like extreme swelling on the gums or palates, and easily break open and bleed when touched.
Nasal polyps are small, pink growths that protrude from the mucous membranes inside the nose. They are usually benign, and develop as a secondary response to other inflammatory processes that a dog may be experiencing.
Polyps can cause the nose to become bloody and filled with pus and mucus. Other symptoms can include noisy and difficult breathing, as well as constant sneezing and congestion.
If nasal polyps are discovered through examination of the palate, rhinoscopy or endoscopy, they can subsequently be removed through surgery. A biopsy can also be taken of retrieved tissue samples so that the masses can be determined as either benign or malignant.
When the polyps are removed, it is important that the whole structure including the stalk or base are completely uprooted as well. This will prevent the polyp from growing out again. Usually, medications are also prescribed for use after the surgery to kill off secondary bacteria or yeast.
If removal of nasal polyps are complete, the prognosis for recovery is very good.
When oral tumors are spotted, it is highly recommended that a full staging (search of the entire body) is conducted in case the tumor is malignant. Blood tests, X-rays, ultrasound analysis and urinalysis are some of the different ways that the dog’s body can be scanned.
Malignant tumors have the ability to spread extremely quickly, invading closely related tissues and then moving to local lymph nodes and organs.
Like nasal polyps, oral tumors are usually treated through surgical removal. Since it’s vital to remove as much of the tumor as possible, local lymph nodes and even bone may need to be extracted.
If the tumor is not able to be completely removed, or if metastasis (spreading) has been observed, then the dog may need to be treated through radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Certain tumors do have excellent response to radiation therapy, even though surgery is usually still preferred.
Vomiting of blood, or hematemesis, can be due to many other causes other than the ones already listed above.
Inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, stomach and lungs due to ulcers or presence of a foreign object can all cause bleeding, which is then expelled through the mouth.
Some of the causes of hematemesis can include:
- Gastrointestinal diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Neurological and Metabolic infections
- Ingestion of toxins such as household cleaners and medications
- Liver failure, causing blood clotting disorder
The obvious sign of internal bleeding in a dog is the blood that is being expelled in its vomit, and in its water dish. The blood may appear fresh (bright red, indicating that it came from the lower part of the digestive system), or digested (black, resembling coffee grounds).
Other common signs of internal bleeding include:
- Pale gums and tongue
- Distended stomach
- Low blood pressure
The first step to treating hematemesis is to determine the cause and source of the internal bleeding. This is usually done through X-rays, blood tests, ultrasounds, and urine and fecal analysis.
Depending on what the diagnosis is, actual treatment can then vary greatly. Recovery may either be resumed at home, or the dog may need inpatient care when emergency procedures for severe cases are needed.
As you can see, there can be so many different causes of internal bleeding. Only a trained and qualified vet will be able to properly treat your pet when these situations arise, so take it to the clinic as soon as you can.
You don’t get it.
You’ve taken your dog to the vet. You’ve done the checks- all of them. Twice, even; just to be sure.
According to the Doc, your best friend’s got a perfect bill of health.
So, why in the world is its water bowl still red?
It might not be blood at all in your dog’s water bowl. If you see a slimy, pink or red substance inside your pup’s water dish, it may actually just be caused by a type of bacteria called Serratia marcescens.
Serratia bacteria are common in our environment, usually growing in moist areas where fatty substances gather, such soap dishes, toilet bowls, and pet water dishes. In relation specifically to your dog’s water dish, food residue inside is what may be attracting the bacteria.
Serratia is not easy to remove, but can be eliminated through frequent cleaning and disinfection with chlorine bleach. Scrub the areas that are coated with fatty substances and then leave the chlorine solution inside the bowl to soak for 10 to 20 minutes.
Remember to thoroughly rinse out the bowl before you give it back to your pet– otherwise serious internal injury could result! If the pink slime returns again, just repeat the cleaning and disinfecting process.
If you find that your dog’s water bowl is red, this is obviously the most welcome outcome since no bleeding is involved. With the bacteria’s red appearance, it can easily be mistaken for blood. Don’t immediately jump to this conclusion though; make sure that you have your dog completely checked as well!
If you find blood in your dog’s water dish, there is definitely something wrong- and it can be serious and even life-threatening in some cases.
Whether it is gum disease, physical trauma, presence of tumors, infection, or internal bleeding with some other cause, you definitely would be well-advised to take your dog to the vet immediately for a full and thorough checkup.
Most conditions will have a much higher success rate if discovered early on. The longer you ignore or dismiss the signs, the more you will put your dog’s health and wellbeing at dire risk.
Heather Abraham is a professional blogger who owns two dogs, a cat, a parrot, and a leopard gecko. She has a connection with animals since she was a child. She shares her love for all pet breeds and provides information on pet food, toys, medications, beds, and everything else.
She is committed to learning about the internal workings of animals. Her work permits her to work closely with knowledgeable vets and obtain practical expertise in animal care. When she is not working, her love of animals continues in her writing. Her goal is to educate and uplift readers who also have a passion for animals through her writing.