Melena is described as black tarry feces resulting from upper gastrointestinal tract bleeding consisting of old, digested blood. The dark color is due to oxidation of iron in the blood as it passes through small intestine and colon.
Melena is a clinical sign and not a disease. It can be a result of underlying conditions such as food allergy, foreign body obstruction, kidney disease, liver diseases, tumors, ulcers, cancer, wounds, injury and infections. It could also be from a bleeding in the respiratory tract (blood is swallowed).
Melena can easily be confused with red feces resulting from known vegetables (beetroot) and other foods.
If the frequency increases and stool is dark and tarry, please contact your veterinarian for an opinion. This should not be ignored.
Melena can be caused by:
› Kidney and Liver diseases
› Food allergy resulting from intestinal reactions such as human foods, raw food
› Reactions to known drugs and medications and overdoses
› Trauma, wounds and injury from sharp bones, bites, objects
› Clotting disorders
› Foreign body obstruction
› Tumors, Ulcers
› Ingestion (swallowing) of blood
› Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
› Digestive and metabolic diseases and infections
Clinical Signs & Symptoms
Common symptoms seen are:
› Anorexia (Loss of Appetite)
› weight Loss
› Pale gums
› Hyphema (Blood in eye)
› Tachypnea (Rapid Breathing Rate)
› Dyspnea (Trouble Breathing)
› Rhinitis (sneezing)
› Epistaxis (Bleeding from the nose)
› Hemoglobinuria (Blood in urine)
› Hemoptysis (coughing up blood)
› Hematemesis (Vomiting Blood)
Veterinarians will require a complete history of your dog which includes medical history, vaccination records, existing health concerns, current and previous medications, onset of symptoms, diet and exercise routine and any information which can help in establishing a correct diagnosis. Diagnosis is done with a combination of tests. These include routine lab examinations and special tests. They are:
› Physical examination
› Complete Blood Count (CBC)
› Biochemical profile
› Fecal Examination
› Abdominal Radiograph (X-rays)
› Chest Radiograph (X-ray)
› Coagulation Test
› Abdominal Ultrasound
› Tissue Biopsy
› Kidney function test
› Liver function test
› Serology Tests
Treatment depends on the underlying cause. Once diagnosis confirm a particular issue, treatment can be started.
› IV Fluids (in severe cases)
› Fluid therapy (in-case of severe dehydration)
› Dietary changes (moist, warm, non-chew-able diet, Do not give raw meat, bones, chew-able foods)
› If any medications are causing melena, this will have to be either discontinued or replaced (as directed by your vet)
Melana is a clinical sign of an underlying disease. It could result from numerous factors.
You have to administer and monitor all prescribed medicines and home procedures as directed by your veterinarian. If you observe any behavioral changes or if the condition does not improve, please contact your veterinarian immediately.
› Provide a stress-free environment for your pet. Keep water and food bowls within reach, introduce exercise and physical activity, keep away from noise and any kind of commotion. Do not travel with pets.
› Dietary changes as directed by your veterinarian.
› If you observe frequent signs in feces, notify your veterinarian. Further tests and changes in medications may be advised.
Further tests and changes in medications may be advised.