Blood clotting defects are any irregularities that disrupt a dog’s hemostasis, or the body’s process to prevent and stop bleeding.
For successful hemostasis, a complex series of enzyme reactions are involved with appropriate coagulation factors, vasoconstriction factors, and a number of platelets. When there is a failure in one of these processes during an injury, it can cause extended hemorrhaging and ultimately result in blood loss anemia.
Abnormalities in the clotting process (also known as coagulation) disorders may be present at birth (congenital) or acquired due to the result of some other disorder.
Blood clotting disorders can be defined as:
- Not enough clotting, leads to serious blood loss (hemophilia and hemorrhage).
- With too much clotting, blood clots form too easily or don't dissolve properly (hypercoagulation).
Symptoms Of Clotting Defects
Specific symptoms are exhibited for specific types of clothing and/or bleeding disorders.
Here are some common symptoms:
- Excessive bleeding
- Spontaneous bleeding
- Epistaxis (Nosebleeds)
- Redness or discoloration of the skin.
- Swelling/Excessive bruising
Symptoms of ‘Hemophilia and Hemorrhage’ include:
- An ordinary injury that will not stop bleeding.
- Prolonged bleeding from ordinary cuts or dental work.
- Nosebleeds that seem to have no cause.
- Unrelenting, painful headaches.
- Bruising easily and excessively.
- Vision problems, such as double vision.
- Extreme fatigue
- Blood in the urine (hematuria) or stool (Hematochezia).
- Sudden pain and/or swelling in joints or muscles.
- Nausea and vomiting
Symptoms of ‘Hypercoagulation’ include:
- Symptoms of Unnecessary or ‘too much clotting’ depends on the location it develops.
- Symptoms of deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot that develops in a vein deep in the body) include:
- Sudden shortness of breath or fast breathing.
- Swelling of an arm or leg ((sometimes this happens abruptly).
- Discolored or reddish skin.
- Elevated heartbeat/ feeling dizzy.
- Pain in the back.
- Sweating more than normal.
- Pulmonary embolism (A blood clot that has traveled to the lung) symptoms include:
- Chest pain
- Cough (sometimes with phlegm/ bloody sputum).
- Fast breathing and/or sudden shortness of breath.
- Fast heartbeat/ sweating/feeling dizzy.
- A stroke or heart attack at a young age.
Treatment Options For Clotting Defects
The course of treatment will depend on the type of blood defect.
Blood clotting disorders treatment may include medications or plasma transfusions to help the blood clotting.
For pets experiencing excessive bleeding, blood clotting elements are reintroduced by a plasma transfusion into the dog’s blood.
Vitamin K deficiency - phytonadione injections are given to boost the level of vitamin K.
Inherited clotting/ bleeding disorders require long-term treatment while acquired bleeding disorders require proper diagnosis and treatment of the underlying cause itself.
Dogs with blood loss (transfusion of either red blood cells, or whole blood).
Blood loss from a single site: for e.g. abnormal nosebleed will be stopped by packing with gauze.
Dogs with decreased platelet count: transfusion of platelets.
Immune-mediated disease and certain infectious diseases: Antibiotics or corticosteroids to suppress the immune system.
Von Willebrand’s Disease: Plasma transfusion.
Anemic Dogs: Depending on the severity, they may require a cell transfusion whether it's whole blood or pack transfusion of just red blood cells.
Home Remedies For Clotting Defects
Discuss with a veterinarian for any home care specific to your dog’s situation.
Check with your veterinarian for post-surgical checks, usually once a month to ensure the health of the dog and to check for any infection.
Supportive therapies can be done at home and can include topical medications, oral antihistamines, antibiotics, anticlotting medications, and complementary treatments.
Prevention Of Clotting Defects
Blood clotting disorders due to hereditary abnormality can be prevented by stopping the breeding of affected dogs so that the risk of passing the condition on to the next generation is averted.
Allergy-related: Try to remove or avoid the allergens to prevent future outbreaks.
Food-related disorders such as DVT: Consult with the vet for any specialized hypoallergenic diets.
Affected Breeds Of Clotting Defects
German Shepherd, Doberman Pinscher, Standard Poodle, Shetland Sheepdog, Golden Retriever, Scottish Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Basset Hound, Shetland Sheepdog
Additional Facts For Clotting Defects
- Causes of blood clotting defects in Dogs:
Hypofibrinogenemia: Reduced levels of fibrinogen (Vizsla and Saint Bernard breeds).
Deficiency of Factor VII: Reduced activity or deficiency of clotting factor VII (English bulldog, Beagle, Miniature Schnauzer, Boxer breeds, Alaskan malamute, etc).
Hemophilia A: The most common congenital bleeding disorder. This is predominant in Female dogs.
Acquired Clotting Protein Disorders: This is a result of liver disease or liver toxicity.
Von Willebrand’s Disease (VWD): Standard Manchester Terrier, Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Standard Poodle, Scottish Terrier, Basset Hound, Golden Retriever, Miniature Schnauzer, Shetland Sheepdog breeds.
Canine Thombopathia: This is a congenital defect with defective platelets that are not able to clot appropriately (Basset Hound breed).
Thrombocytopenia: Low blood platelet count (no breed disposition).
Platelet Disorders: Congenital or acquired irregularity in platelet count or functioning.
Blood Vessel Disorders: This may be inherited or acquired due to other diseases.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: Rickettsia rickettsii parasite transmitted by ixodid ticks. (German shepherds and purebred dogs).
Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS): Is known as cutaneous asthenia rubber puppy disease. A group of rare hereditary connective tissue diseases is characterized by abnormal collagen structure. (St. Bernards, Boxers, German Shepherds, Dachshunds, Springer Spaniels, Irish setters, Poodles, and Greyhounds).
Congenital: For instance, Von Willebrand’s Disease is the most common inherited, heterogeneous, bleeding disorder and is found in all breeds.
Acquired Defects: Most commonly associated with kidney or liver disease and infections such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Blood clotting defect incidence is highly common. When the bleeding cannot be stopped or intracranial bleeding or bleeding in other vital organs, this can be fatal.
- Complete blood count
- Serum biochemical study
- Fecal analysis, urinalysis
- Flow cytometry
- Platelet count
- Coagulation function
- Clot retraction
- Smear evaluation
This depends on the dog’s conditions, but there are two things to consider.
- The first is the possibility of their surviving a surgery or any treatment in the short term.
- The second is the long-term result. For e.g., if a hemoabdomen or bleeding tumor in the spleen has already spread, the vets suggest surgery as it might help the animal to survive initially but owners may not want to operate. This is a conversation between the vet and the owner.
When To See A Vet
Time to visit the vet clinic for an examination, if you notice any of the following:
- An ordinary injury that will not stop bleeding.
- When you see your dog has extreme fatigue after exercise and higher collapsing episodes.
- When your dog has prolonged seizure activities.
Food Suggestions For Clotting Defects
What to feed?
- Provide easily digestible lean cuts of meat.
- Ground meat - labeled 90 percent lean or leaner(beef, chicken, turkey).
- “Loin” or “Round” cuts of beef or pork (top round, top loin, top sirloin, bottom round steak, pork tenderloin).
- Chicken thigh meat (skinless), breast (skinless), and white meat (skinless).
- Pack the diet with easy-to-digest fatty proteins like lamb, chicken, turkey, fish, and eggs.
- Brown rice, lukewarm (never hot) chicken soup, chicken breast, and cooked vegetables are perfect for the ailing pup.
- Organ meats (liver), poultry, pork, and fish should be thoroughly cooked to kill any germs.
- Semi-moist pet food with boiled chicken or Meat-flavored baby food.
- Vitamin K supplements: Egg yolks, cabbage, parsley, liver(raw or cooked), etc.
Treatment and subsequent prognosis will vary according to the specific clotting defect of the dog.
Congenital clotting disorders require lifelong management and are often not “cured.”
Within a few days of starting the proper treatment, most of the acquired blood clotting defects symptoms will be relieved. The clinical signs acquired due to underlying conditions can be controlled by appropriate treatment.