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A Bloody Nose: Bad Enough for a Vet Visit?

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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A Bloody Nose: Bad Enough for a Vet Visit?

Last night an owner called me because their 11-year-old Cocker Spaniel had a bloody nose. It started about 2 hours before they called me and their dog had never had one before. I understood their panic-if you've ever seen a dog with a bloody nose you know that blood can get EVERYWHERE. What happens is dogs get blood in their sinuses and throat, become congested, then sneeze out the blood. In just second an exam room can end up looking like the site of a massacre.

The medical term for bloody nose is epistaxis (in case you get that as a Jeopardy question, now you know!). What causes a bloody nose? The most common causes are damaged vessels in the nasal mucosa (the internal membrane of the nose), especially fragile capillaries, or bleeding disorders such as a lack of normal clotting factors.

Any breed can develop epistaxis and there is no evidence that one gender gets it more than the other. Dogs with long noses such as collies can be at higher risk for tumors in the nasal cavity that can cause bleeding, but this doesn't necessarily mean they will get more nose bleeds.

What can you do at home if your dog gets a bloody nose? Often a blood clot will form and the bleeding will stop on its own. Your veterinarian still should evaluate your pet, but an emergency visit probably is not required. Meanwhile, do the following:

  • Limit your dog's stress and stay calm.
  • Monitor your dog for signs of dehydration, faintness, or irregular breath and heartbeat.
  • Offer your dog fresh water, in case they swallow blood.

    For more tips - go to: Epistaxis (Nose Bleed) in Dogs.

    After hearing about poor Buffy the Cocker Spaniel, I met with her owner to evaluate the bloody nose. It turned out that she had some small hemorrhages in her skin, had had dark stools for several days (most likely due to digested blood), and she was also bleeding from her gums. Her diagnosis was a platelet problem. This can be a severe condition with a variety of causes. The recommended tests can be expensive. For more information go to: Thrombocytopenia in Dogs

    If your dog has a nose bleed that lasts more than a few minutes, please see your vet.

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