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Watching our dogs suffer is extremely traumatic for pet owners. We often find ourselves at a loss. What should we do when our dog is bleeding and the flow just won’t stop?
Hemostasis is the body’s natural healing mechanism for every time there is an injury. The body executes a series of steps involving constriction of blood vessels, formation of a platelet plug and clotting of the blood. Any condition that interferes with this process is called a bleeding disorder. If left untreated, this dangerous condition can cause anything from anemia to death.
The warning comes when our pets start exhibiting excessive bleeding, nosebleeds, unexplained bruises, pale or spotted gums and red spots in their eyes. Bloody urine, vomit or stools are other indicators. Internal bleeding may be manifested as distended stomach, breathing difficulty and obvious discomfort in our pets. In an advanced stage, they may have seizures or lose consciousness. Other abnormal behaviors that may indicate anemia include our pets starting to eat or lick strange objects, confusion, lethargy, abnormal heart beat and shortness of breath.
There are a range of medical conditions that give rise to this problem. Some such inherited disorders are:
- deficiency of clotting proteins in blood such as, fibrinogen (Hypofibrinogenemia), Factor VII, Factor VIII (Hemophelia A) and von Willebrand factor (von Willebrand’s disease),
- defect in the proteins in skin tissue (Ehlers-Danlos syndrome or rubber puppy disease), and
- having too few platelets (Thrombocytopenia) or having defective platelets that are not able to clot properly (Canine Thombopathia)
Clotting protein disorders may also be a result of other ailments such as liver diseases or poisoning. Some platelet and blood vessel disorders (such as vasculitis) that also cause bleeding may be triggered by autoimmune disorders or infections.
Diagnosis and treatment
A veterinarian generally starts with a complete physical examination and checks for external causes like poisoning or medication. Our dog’s breed and history along with blood and urine test results (occasionally accompanied by clotting tests) help our vet diagnose the inherent problem.
Treatments would differ depending upon the immediate requirement and the cause of bleeding. The first line of response to an ongoing blood loss is to stem the flow. Anemia or any specific deficiency in blood is addressed through transfusions. If the root cause is an autoimmune disorder, medications are given to temporarily suppress the immune system. If infections are responsible, antibiotics may be administered.
Post-treatment follow up is just as critical as the treatment to our pet’s full recovery. When it comes to the health of our beloved animals, it is always better to seek immediate and expert medical care and ensure that we follow the vet’s instructions to the dot.