Dogs with Nosebleeds

Why does my dog's nose bleed?

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Q. My mom's 13-year-old [mixed breed] woke up and began bleeding profusely from her nose. We rushed her to the veterinarian, but all he did was stop the bleeding and tell us bleeding like that was normal for old dogs. Since then the dog has had four nosebleeds, each one directly after she wakes up. One day I was home alone and she had her fifth nosebleed. The neighbor took me to the veterinarian when I couldn't stop the bleeding. The veterinarian and my family were annoyed with me and said I am overreacting. I am 13, and I am the one who gets Dog Fancy. I am afraid for the dog. Are this many nosebleeds normal for an old dog in the span of two weeks? The dog is otherwise healthy.

A. You are absolutely correct to be concerned about your dog's nosebleeds. Bleeding from the nose (epistaxis) is not normal in dogs of any age and can signal serious illness. Epistaxis can occur from one or both nostrils and varies from mild and self-limiting to severe and life-threatening. Some cases start with sneezing and traces of blood in nasal discharges, while others have profuse bleeding as the first sign, which you have experienced.

Any process that disrupts the nasal lining or blood vessels can result in epistaxis. Some causes are obvious, while others are more subtle. Nasal foreign bodies such as plant debris (blades of grass, foxtails, burrs) can cause violent sneezing and irritation to the delicate nasal lining. Any other cause of violent sneezing can result in nosebleed. Severe nasal infections with bacterial and/or fungal organisms and chronic inflammatory conditions such as allergies can also cause bleedin g. Although rare, advanced dental disease can sometimes involve the nasal sinuses and cavity, leading to nosebleeds. Trauma to the head and nose frequently results in nasal hemorrhage. Cancers of the nasal cavity can be very invasive and erosive and often result in epistaxis.

Blood-clotting disorders, which can be caused by many diseases, commonly lead to nosebleeds. The inability to clot could make a dog bleed easily. In many cases, nosebleeds can be the first or only sign of such a problem. Common causes of clotting abnormalities include von Willebrand's disease, hemophilia and ingestion of certain rat poisons. Anticoagulant rat poisons cause bleeding lasting days to weeks after ingestion, but acute signs of toxicity are not usually seen when the poisons are ingested. Blood or bone marrow infections with certain organisms (Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichia) can also cause bleeding. Ticks usually transmit these organisms.

There are many more potential causes of nosebleed in dogs. Further testing might be needed to determine the exact cause of your dog's problem. Physical examination, blood tests and clotting profiles, thyroid tests, nasal cultures, nasal X-rays and nasal scoping should be especially helpful. Examination of nasal debris under the microscope can provide valuable clues in some cases. I strongly encourage you to pursue a diagnosis so proper treatment can be administered before the bleeding becomes more severe or widespread.

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Ruzica   Gevgelija, International

7/12/2014 9:48:27 AM

My 3 year old Golden Retriever has been having nose bleeds for a couple of months now. There was a hedgehog in our yard and we thought that it could be the cause of the nose bleeds. We got rid of the hedgehog but the bleeding continued for a month now. Could this be something serious?

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Vi   Kenly, North Carolina

10/4/2013 12:24:48 PM

I had the same problem with my 13 yr old border collie. 3 mths ago started with a really bad nose bleed from the right side, sneezing and everything would fly everywhere. Took her to the hospital(vet closed on weekends), they got the bleeding stopped and we took he to the vet on Monday. They did a scope, blood tests, etc. Everything came back fine. Bleeding stopped and we gave her meds. 2 weeks later the bleeding began. 2 weeks ago she started to not eat as much, was not excited to go for a ride, gurgled in her sleep, etc. Vet told me she thought it was a tumor and since I had put out over $1,000 the last time and still trying to recover from it, I have been waiting to see what would happen. I put her to sleep this morning. Her eyes were not looking right, she wanted more attention, she was not eating, moved slowly. she is better now

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juju B.   Mauldidn, SC

6/27/2013 7:29:44 AM

Saw this website this morning as I was looking up nose bleeds on dogs. My 13 year old mix breed is having more nose bleeds this week. Trying to stop the nose bleed is impossible. Coming home from work you'd think my house was a crime scene. Blood everywhere and when he sneezed the blood splatters everywhere. It got so bad I had to take him to the vet yesterday. He has a fever of 103. His white blood cell was low. Our options were 50/50 that he has a mass tumor. In order to get the full results, a CT scan $1,500,00 would show if there was a mass. Even if I chose to have that done and shows he has the mass, I cannot see him go through radiation treatment at his age. The vet put him on Clindamycin and Ketoconazole to see if it will help the bleeding. Last night was the worst night ever with about 4 nose bleeds in 6 1/2 hours. On top of that he was diagnosed with Cushing disease last year. Just don't know what to do.

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josh   Phoenix, Arizona

6/14/2013 6:58:19 AM

jgfromnc what was the outcome of the biopsy?

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