A dog bleeding from the mouth can be an alarming sight for dog owners to witness, especially when the bleeding occurs in copious amounts. Sometimes, it may be challenging to pinpoint exactly the underlying cause of a dog bleeding from the mouth considering that the dog's mouth stores several structures such as the tongue, gums and mucous membranes lining the mouth, not to mention that there may be several other potential sources of bleeding involved. Determining the source of the bleeding may require that dog owners put on their investigate hat, but seeing the vet may be the best course of action so to get to the root of problem and have it treated accordingly.
A Dog Bleeding From the Mouth
You can gather some clues about potential causes of blood loss from evaluating the type of bleeding you are witnessing. Is the dog actually actively bleeding from the mouth (like blood is dripping out) or did you just find some blood spots on a chew toy or bone your dog just finished chewing?
Blood dripping out of the mouth is generally more concerning than just a few blood stains left behind after chewing a toy, and blood continuously and profusely streaming out of the mouth is more concerning than just a few drops of blood here and there.
The first step to confirm or rule out several causes of a dog bleeding from the mouth is conducted by performing an inspection of the dog's mouth. You may have to look at your dog's gums, tongue, as well as the top of his mouth (hard palate). Not always this is an easy task. Dogs may not be very collaborative in having their mouths checked, especially if there is some level of pain involved.
If your dog is not used to you handling his mouth, it is best that you play it safe and see your vet. You don't want to get injured in the process! Your vet is professionally trained to conduct an oral examination, and if your dog is not collaborative, your vet can always conduct a thorough inspection by safely sedating your dog if he is healthy otherwise.
If your dog is bleeding from his mouth and appears nauseous, consider that some blood may be dripping down his throat and this may be causing nausea. Also consider, that swallowed blood may lead to temporary darkening of the stool.
Problems in the Dog's Mouth
Several problems in the dog's mouth can be causing the bleeding. If you are able to inspect your dog's mouth safely, you may be lucky enough to find the actual source of the bleeding. Here are a few possible problems that can cause a dog bleeding from the mouth.
Check for gum problems. Start by taking a look at your dog's gums. They should be a healthy bubblegum pink color (if they look pale see your vet at once!). If you see any red-looking gums, those gums may be the source of the problem. One of the most common sources of bleeding from the mouth are inflamed or infected gums.
According to the American Veterinary Dental College, it is estimated that most dogs over the age of 3 have some degree of periodontal disease. Dogs with bad gums will often have bad breath, red gums, brownish teeth covered in tartar tend to leave blood stains on items that they have chewed on.
Check the tongue. Did you find some drops of blood dripping out of your dog's mouth? If your dog has been active lately, it could be that while he was playing he accidentally bit his tongue or chewed on something that caused a puncture wound. The tongue is a very vascular organ considering that there is a lingual artery right underneath it and will therefore bleed quite profusely.
Check the teeth. If your dog allows you, take a look at his teeth. A loose or broken tooth may the cause of the bleeding. However, if the dental problem affects teeth that are too far back in the mouth, it may be difficult for you to see. If you own a puppy, consider that when baby teeth fall they too can cause minor blood loss.
Look around. While you are at it, look around to see if there are any masses. Dogs can get tumors in their mouth too. Some dog mouth tumors may ulcerate and bleed until they are removed. Finally, make sure there are no foreign items embedded somewhere in your dog's mouth. A dog's tongue is not as mobile as human tongues in dislodging anything wedged in the mouth.
Tip: if your dog is bleeding from the mouth, you want to try your best to keep your dog quiet. Running around or acting excited causes the dog's blood pressure to rise, and the higher the blood pressure is, the more the bleeding.
"Mouth wounds bleed easily and heal quickly. If you can try to put some pressure on it, it will help. If she is easy to work with you can put a wet wash cloth in her mouth and hold pressure. If not then put her in a crate so she will hold still. If the bleeding has not stopped in 10 minutes then you may need to take her to a vet to get her sedated to stop the bleeding. "~Dr. Stacy, veterinarian
More Widespread Problems
If there are no visible signs of trouble in your dog's mouth, you may have missed something or you may be dealing with a more widespread disorder.
In some cases, the blood may not be coming from the mouth, but from the esophagus, stomach or respiratory tract. At other times, the bleeding may stem from some other underlying disorder that needs investigated.
A bleeding ulcer in the stomach can account for having blood in the mouth. Affected dogs may also present with dark, tarry stools (melena) due to presence of digested blood in them. A tumor in the stomach such as a gastric adenocarcinoma may also bleed if it ruptures through the dog's stomach lining, tearing blood vessels.
One troublesome problem in a dog bleeding from the mouth is a dog bleeding disorder. There are several bleeding disorders in dogs that can interfere with the ability of blood to clot as it's supposed to. Namely, immune mediated thrombocytopenia is a condition where the dog's immune system destroys its own platelets which are necessary to clot the dog's blood.
Blood clotting problems can also be triggered by accidental ingestion of rat poison. Some types of rat poisons cause death in mice by making them bleed to death. If you suspect your dog ate rat poison, see your vet at once.
In a dog bleeding from the mouth, on top of checking for pale gums, you may want to look at your dog's belly for signs of bruising (ecchymosis) and presence of small red dots in the ears and mouth (petechiae). These are both signs of dog internal bleeding that warrant seeing the vet on an emergency basis.
If your dog's gums or tongue are pale, you see signs of bruising and the dog's mouth bleeding persists or other forms of bleeding take place, then consider this an emergency, and see the veterinarian at once.
If you notice your dog bleeding from the mouth mostly when your dog is lying down or when he's asleep, it's likely because of the effect of gravity and the fact that dogs do not swallow as often as when they are awake. Your dog may be still bleeding from the mouth during the day, only that it goes unnoticed because the blood is swallowed.
At the Vet's Office
If you weren't able to inspect your dog's mouth, your best bet is to see the vet. And of course, you must also immediately see your vet or veterinary emergency center if your dog is bleeding profusely and your dog appears weak, lethargic and has pale gums.
Once at the vet's office, your vet will ask you several questions about your dog bleeding from the mouth and will carefully inspect the mouth. If your dog is not very collaborative, your vet may have to sedate your dog to thoroughly check things out. X-rays of the oral cavity may also be done at this time. Treatment varies based on the vet's findings.
In the case of periodontal disease, your vet may want to have mouth x-rays done to see if there's a problem below the gumline or at the root of a tooth. There are chances your dog may need to have a dental cleaning done and possibly even have some teeth extracted.
If your vet suspects a bleeding disorder, he or she run a blood panel that includes testing for the blood's ability to clot. If rat poison is likely a culprit, your vet will want to start your dog with a vitamin K1 shot.
Mouth tumors need to be evaluated. Even though many may be benign tumors, they need surgical removal because of the frequent bleeding.
As seen, there are several causes of dog bleeding from the mouth. Play it safe and see your vet if the bleeding is persistent or your dog is bleeding profusely.