What is a Nose Bleed in Dogs
Canine nose bleeds, technically called “epistaxis” or hemorrhagic nasal discharge, are just what they sound like: fresh (frank) bright red blood coming out of one or both of a dog’s nostrils. A dog’s nostrils are technically referred to as “nares”.
Common Causes of Nose Bleeds in Dogs
Nose bleeds in dogs are usually caused by some sort of damage or physical injury to blood vessels in the nasal cavity – typically vessels that are located in the sensitive nasal mucosa which is the outermost lining of the nostrils inside the dog’s nose. Damage to the nasal mucosa can be caused by erosions or ulcerations due to a systemic disease, allergies, bacterial, fungal or viral infections, head trauma, puncture wounds (such as from contact with thorns or barbed wire), nasal tumors, nasal polyps, parasites or inhaled foreign bodies. Nose bleeding can also be caused by abnormal fragility of the tiniest blood vessels in the nose, called capillaries, or by generalized blood clotting or coagulation disorders caused by thrombocytopenia (low numbers of platelets), hemophilia or von Willebrand’s disease. Vitamin K deficiency in a dog’s diet can also lead to spontaneous nose bleeds; this occurs most frequently when a dog gets into rat or rodent poison, which causes coagulation abnormalities. Immune system disorders can also contribute to nose bleeds, as can excessive treatment with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). High blood pressure (hypertension), and kidney disease, may also contribute to nose bleeds in dogs.
Symptoms of Nose Bleeding in Dogs
Owners will obviously know when their dog has a nose bleed. Frank (fresh) red blood will be coming out of one or both of the dog’s nostrils. The dog may also sneeze, paw at its mouth or nose and show other signs of more systemic disorders, if they are present. They may have bloody diarrhea and possibly vision abnormalities due to hypertension (high blood pressure), if those problems are contributing to the nose bleeding.
Dogs at Increased Risk of Nose Bleeds
Young dogs – especially purebred puppies - have an increased risk of developing nose bleeds due to blood coagulation abnormalities. Middle-aged dogs are more likely to develop nose bleeds as a result of physical trauma, immune system disorders or infectious diseases. Older animals are more prone to developing nose bleeds from cancer (nasal neoplasia).
Stop Nose Bleeds in Dogs
Nose bleeds are not difficult to diagnose. The owner, the veterinarian and anyone else who is around the dog can see fresh, bright red blood either slowly oozing or rapidly dripping out of one or both of the dog’s nostrils. Many nose bleeds resolve without treatment. However, if the bleeding doesn’t stop or there is no obvious cause of the problem, a trip to the veterinarian is warranted. The tricky part for the veterinary team is to figure out what is causing the dog’s nose to bleed.
Dogs with nose bleeds should be kept calm and quiet. Gently applying an ice pack wrapped in a cloth to the muzzle or bridge of the nose can help relieve discomfort and speed up blood clotting at the source of the problem. Steady pressure with a gauze square or cotton ball usually is helpful if the site of the bleeding is visible. Nose bleeds are rarely signs of something that is seriously dangerous to the dog. They typically can be treated and will resolve with no ongoing consequences.