Symptoms of Von Willebrand Disease
Von Willebrand disease affects both males and females and has been documented in more than 50 breeds of domestic dogs. Most affected animals have few if any symptoms, and even those tend to recede with age. Dogs with mild to moderate forms of the disease may not be diagnosed for years – often only after surgery or some other traumatic tissue injury, such as lacerations, dog bites or being hit by a car, that exposes the bleeding disorder.
Severe forms of vWD usually become apparent by about one year of age and typically include one or more of the following symptoms:
- Recurrent episodes of spontaneous bleeding from the gums or oral mucosa, for no apparent reason
- Recurrent episodes of spontaneous nosebleeds, for no apparent reason
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
- Bloody stool (hematachezia)
- Black, tarry stool
- Bloody urine (hematuria)
- Prolonged bleeding from loss of deciduous (“baby”) teeth and eruption of permanent teeth
- Prolonged bleeding from tail docking or ear cropping
- Prolonged bleeding from dewclaw removal
- Prolonged bleeding from superficial wounds
- Prolonged bleeding from surgical incisions
- Excessive bleeding during heat cycles in intact bitches
- Excessive bleeding during whelping
- Anemia (regenerative)
Light injuries that occur during routine play can cause the joints of affected dogs to bleed, and as a result the dog may become lame. Owners may notice prolonged bleeding when they trim their dog’s nails, despite the application of a quick-stop or other clotting powder.
Dogs at Increased Risk
Breeds that are predisposed to mild forms of vWD include the Doberman Pinscher, Golden Retriever, Standard Poodle, Manchester Terrier, Akita, Pembroke Welsh Corgi and Miniature Schnauzer, among others. Breeds prone to develop more severe bleeding disorders include the Shetland Sheepdog, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Scottish Terrier and German Shorthaired and Wirehaired Pointer. Dogs suffering from hypothyroidism may also be at an increased risk of bleeding disorders.