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Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC) in Dogs

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), also known as "DIC" or "Dysfibrinogen syndrome", is a complex syndrome of disorders and deregulation of the coagulation. A cascade of events takes place within the body that leads to abnormal activation of products that encourages the blood to clot. Components such as fibrin are released within the blood stream. This can cause either very rapid clotting and possible abnormal blood clots and eventually loss of the ability to clot as the clotting ingredients are used up. Uncontrolled bleeding is the final result in this process.

The DIC condition may occur in dogs of any age, breed or sex. It is relatively uncommon in cats.

DIC occurs secondary to diseases that cause an inappropriate coagulation response.

Primary disorders that can cause DIC include:

  • Neoplasia (Cancer such as Hemangiosarcoma or mammary cancer)
  • Gastric dilatation volvulus (Bloat)
  • Hemolytic Anemia
  • Heartworm disease
  • Heat stroke
  • Anaphylaxis (Severe allergic reactions)
  • Sepsis
  • Trauma
  • Shock
  • Multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS)
  • Pancreatitis
  • Liver failure
  • Pyometra
  • Von Willebrand's Disease
  • Vitamin K deficiency ( Rodenticide toxicosis)
  • Other diseases that stimulate the inflammatory or immune systems

    This is a very serious condition that commonly results in death.

    What to Watch For

    Signs associated with DIC depend on the individual pet, the length of time they have been ill and the underlying condition. Initial signs typically reflect the underlying disease or disorder.
    Advanced signs of DIC may include:

  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Pale mucous membranes or icterus (yellow)
  • Bruising (ecchymosis)
  • Pinpoint hemorrhages (petechiae)
  • Bleeding from any orifice – urinary tract, blood in stool, blood in vomit, etc.
  • Rapid breathing (tachypnea)
  • Fast heart rate (tachycardia)

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