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Epistaxis (Nose Bleed) in Dogs

By: Dr. Douglas Brum

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Epistaxis refers to bleeding from the nose. It is usually from damaged vessels in the nasal mucosa but can also be due to an increased fragility of capillaries or bleeding tendencies. Any breed can develop epistaxis and there is no gender predilection. Dogs with long noses (so-called "dolichocephalic" breeds such as Collies) may be at greater risk for some causes of epistaxis (e.g. nasal tumors).

The bleeding may be acute (sudden) or chronic (long standing). How ill the animal becomes often is determined by the underlying cause of the nasal bleeding. It is important to determine if the bleeding is unilateral (one-sided) or bilateral (both nostrils) because some causes of epistaxis are associated with unilateral bleeding whereas others are associated with bilateral bleeding.

Epistaxis may be caused by:

  • Trauma
  • Nasal foreign bodies
  • Dental disease, like tooth root abscess
  • Nasal tumors
  • Infections (bacterial, fungal, parasitic)
  • Certain blood disorders, such as clotting abnormalities, excessively viscous blood, tick-borne diseases that can cause low platelet counts

    What to Watch For

  • Sneezing, accompanied by a large spray of blood
  • Nasal swelling
  • Severe dental disease
  • Fractured teeth
  • Black, tarry stool (caused by swallowing blood)
  • A foul odor from the mouth or nose
  • Noisy breathing
  • Loss of appetite

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