Bloody Noses in Dogs and Cats
Nose bleeds in dogs and cats can be mild with only drops of blood, but often the bleeding is severe and feels like it will never stop. There are many causes for a bloody nose to develop and your vet can help determine what the underlying cause is. Continue reading for more information and tips to help control the bleeding.
This article was written by a FirstVet vet
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Help! My Pet Has A Bloody Nose And She Is Sneezing Blood Everywhere!
1. If your dog or cat has a bloody nose, try to remain calm and keep your pet calm. If they get worked up their blood pressure will rise, and the bleeding will be worse.
2. Apply an ice pack to the bridge of the nose, but do NOT block the nostrils. The cold from the ice pack will help constrict the blood vessels and reduce the bleeding.
3. Do NOT put cotton or Q-tips up the nose as this will be likely to make your pet sneeze, causing the bleeding to worsen. We also don’t want anything to get stuck inside the nose.
4. Start heading to your vet clinic or the local emergency clinic.
Causes of Bloody Noses in Dogs and Cats
There are many causes of bloody noses in dogs and cats, such as…
- Low Platelets (thrombocytopenia): The body needs platelets to control bleeding and form a blood clot. If the platelet count is low, spontaneous bleeding can occur. You may also notice bruising on the skin, red dots on the gums (petechia), and black stools. Dogs can develop low platelets as a result of an autoimmune disease (immune-mediated thrombocytopenia), tick-borne diseases such as Ehrlichia, Rickettsia, and Babesia, adverse drug reactions, bone marrow dysfunction, and disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC). In cats, low platelets can develop with Feline Leukemia Virus and FIV, bone marrow issues, drug reactions, and DIC.
- Clotting disorders are another cause of spontaneous bleeding. Von Willebrand’s Disease (especially in Doberman Pinschers), hemophilia, liver disease, and rodenticide ingestion are common causes of clotting disorders
- Fungal infections, such as Aspergillus, Penicillium, Blastomyces in dogs, and Cryptococcus in cats
- Trauma such as hit by car, running into the wall, rough play
- Cancers, such as lymphoma, multiple myeloma, leukemia
- Foreign body in the nostril or sinus such as a grass awn, kitty litter (dog or cat), etc.
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Tooth root abscess invading the sinuses
How can my vet determine which condition is causing the bloody nose?
After the complete physical exam, your vet will likely start with some basic blood work to check the red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelet levels. A coagulation panel is often performed to assess the pet for clotting disorders. A chemistry panel is also part of the initial testing to assess the liver and kidney values, among other things.
A tick test should also be run to screen for tick-borne disease. Some fungal infections can be detected with special blood tests, but not all. In cats, testing for FIV and Feline Leukemia should be performed also.
Your pet’s blood pressure will also likely be checked. However, pets that are scared and stressed may have high blood pressure at the vet but have normal blood pressure at home when they’re relaxed. If your pet has multiple high blood pressure readings at the vet’s office, they may recommend having a housecall vet come to your home to check the pressure when your pet is relaxed and see if treatment is really needed. Pets with kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, and adrenal gland diseases often have true hypertension that needs treatment.
If you know your pet ingested or may have been exposed to rat bait (rodenticide), let your vet know, call Animal Poison Control, and give them the exact name of the product used. Many rodenticides affect the coagulation cascade and can be treated with Vitamin K. However, some of the newer generations of rodenticides do not work on this pathway, so your vet needs to know exactly what was ingested.
If you saw your dog run into the wall (not paying attention when chasing the ball!), get hit in the nose with a toy, or other trauma was witnessed, let your vet know.
Fungal infections tend to be regionally distributed. Your vet will know if you’re in an area where this is a concern. Let your vet know about any recent travel with your pet in case you were in a region with a higher risk of fungal exposure.
Radiographs of the mouth, skull, and chest are often needed if the cause of bleeding has not been found yet.
Finally, your pet may need more advanced imaging such as an MRI or CT scan to look into the sinuses further. Using a small camera (endoscope) to look into the nose and sinus is another potential step. If your pet has foreign material in the nose, like litter or a grass awn, it can often be removed during scoping.
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