Digestive System

The appearance of the blood tells a lot about what the problem is, so your vet will ask a lot of questions: Was it bright red or a darker color? Were there just a few drops or a dramatic splash? Did it appear on the surface of the stool or was it mixed up inside?

Your vet will examine the stool sample under a microscope to see if there are parasites. This isn't as easy as it sounds since the only sign of some parasites will be their eggs, which only appear in stools periodically -- the parasites themselves may be anchored inside the intestine. So even if the test is negative, your vet may ask you to bring additional stool samples on different days.

If parasites are the problem, there are a number of medications that will eliminate them, usually within 24 to 48 hours. You may be asked to repeat the treatment in three weeks and again in three months to make sure that the parasites don't come back.

When parasites don't appear to be the problem, your vet may take a look at the inside of your pet's intestines, using an instrument called an endoscope. This procedure can detect infections and other problems that may be causing the bleeding.

Anal sac infections are quite common, and, in most cases, easy to diagnose and treat. Most pets with infected anal sacs will need antibiotics to clear up the infection. Your vet will probably drain the sacs as well, which usually just takes a few seconds and can be done manually without special instruments or anesthetic.

In some cases, unfortunately, blood in the stool really is a sign of cancer. Your vet may use the endoscope to examine the pet's intestines for unusual lumps or growths. She may also check the outside of your pet to see if lumps have formed under the skin. If there are signs of cancer, your pet could need surgery, chemotherapy, or other treatments to bring it under control.

See also: Licking hind end

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Copyright 1999 Rodale Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

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