Blood clots in dogs (and, in fact, in any species) are both a blessing and a curse. Blood clotting is a blessing in that the natural clotting ability of blood ensures that wounds heal before the dog (or animal in question) bleeds to death.
But the darker, more dangerous side to dog blood clots is when the platelets and plasma (that usually form at the sight of wounds to stem the bleeding) form within the body. The danger of the formation of clots internally is that these clots can get stuck inside blood vessels, cutting off vital blood flow to tissues and organs.
Blood clots are linked to some nasty-sounding conditions like aneurysms and thrombosis, so they're not to be taken lightly at all.
Because blood clotting in dogs can be life-threatening, it's a good idea to arm yourself with all the information to better help your canine companion. Read on for all the details on spotting the signs of blood clots in dogs, what causes blood clots, and what to do once your dog has been diagnosed with a blood clotting issue.
- Causes of blood clotting
- Types of blood clots in dogs
- Symptoms of dog blood clots
- Diagnosing blood clots in dogs and treatment
- Making sure you are covered
Causes of blood clotting
According to research, blood clots form when the platelets and plasma in the blood coagulate and form a small mass. At the sight of a wound, these platelets and plasma come together to create a scab that closes off the wound to protect against further bleeding, and also to seal off the site to prevent infection.
Blood clots that form internally are less beneficial and can cause serious problems. Many things can cause blood clots in dogs, and the most common include:
- Medications – especially long-term use of medicines like corticosteroids;
- Autoimmune disease;
- Trauma, like being hit my car, can cause the formation of blood clots in dogs;
- Endocrine disease;
- Damaged blood vessels;
- Parasite infections;
- Inflamed pancreas;
- Kidney disease;
- Underactive thyroid.
Types of blood clots in dogs
Wherever blood flows in the body, there's the potential for blood clots to form, but there are certain areas in a dog's body where it's more common for blood clots to occur:
- Legs – dog blood clots can affect the limbs as well as the paw pads themselves.
- GI tract – the gastrointestinal tract is prone to blood clots in dogs.
- Lungs – the lungs commonly experience blood clots due to the vast network of blood vessels that surround them to transport oxygenated blood to the rest of the body.
- Heart – similar to the lungs, the heart is very susceptible to the occurrence of blood clots.
- Brain – blood clots that pass through the heart and lungs without incident tend to end up in the brain, where they can have devastating effects.
Symptoms of dog blood clots
Various symptoms could indicate a blood clot in dogs, and these will vary depending on the location of the clot.
Blood clots in the brain can lead to stroke and various neurological symptoms, including:
- Walking as though drunk;
- Head pressing and/or head tilting;
- Loss of coordination;
- Loss of facial reflexes.
Clots often form in other parts of the body and travel to the heart, where they can get stuck. A dog that suddenly passes out likely has a clot in the heart. Other symptoms include:
- Difficulty breathing;
- Weakness in the hind legs;
- Leg pain;
- Paw pads and nail beds that appear pale.
Blood clots in dogs that occur in the lungs can cause difficulty breathing and severe pain. Other symptoms include:
- Difficulty breathing;
- Difficulty sleeping;
- Pale gums.
Clots in the gastrointestinal tract show up with similar symptoms as other GI issues, including:
Blood clots that occur in the legs can result in some very alarming symptoms, including:
- Lameness in the affected limb;
- Affected limb feels cold to the touch;
- Paw pads may seem blue in color;
- Pain in the limb.
Diagnosing blood clots in dogs and treatment
The symptoms of blood clots in dogs can often resemble other conditions, so typically, when diagnosing blood clots, your vet will go through a process of elimination. You can expect your vet to perform a physical exam, urinalysis, and blood work to rule out other conditions that may be responsible for the symptoms, or underlying conditions that could cause clotting.
Imaging tests may also be required if your vet suspects a clot and has a good idea of its location. MRI, CT scans, and ultrasound can help your vet understand the clot's extent and precise location which can help your vet formulate a plan to get rid of the clot.
Treating blood clots starts with a clot-dissolving medication called Streptokinase. In some cases, the clot may need to be surgically removed, which can be quite risky.
Once the clot has been taken care of, your vet will turn his focus to prevent future blood clots from forming. Medications like low-dose aspirin and heparin may be prescribed, including anti-inflammatories and an anti-coagulant.
Making sure you are covered
Many of the symptoms of dog blood clots are relatively common, so it can be hard to know if it is, in fact, a clot. With Online Vet by Petcube, you have access to a team of licensed veterinarians in real-time at any time of day or night.
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For an additional $9 a month, you can also have $3000 in emergency medical funds available to you each year.
Those vet bills can rack up pretty fast if your dog has a blood clot. An emergency fund can help you get through the trauma and ensure your pup receives the necessary treatment.
My dog is vomiting blood clots – what does this mean?
There are several reasons why your dog is vomiting blood. It isn't necessarily a reason to panic, but it definitely should not be ignored. We recommend you get to a vet as soon as possible to get to the bottom of it.
Common causes of blood in your dog's vomit include:
- Poisons or toxins;
- Gastrointestinal ulcers;
- Ingestion of a foreign body;
- Blood clotting disorders;
- Autoimmune disorders;
What causes blood clots in dog urine? Why is my dog peeing blood clots?
Blood clots in dog urine are not a good sign. If you notice that your dog is peeing blood clots, treat it as an emergency and get to the vet without delay. There's a chance that a blood clot in a dog's urine isn't life-threatening, but you'll only know that once you've been to the vet.
Many things can cause your dog to pee blood clots, and the treatment for this will depend on the cause. In some cases, your dog may require surgery.
Is there a home remedy for blood clots in dog urine?
Blood clots in dog urine should always be treated as an emergency as there's a good chance it could be very serious, if not life-threatening. There's not much you can do to help your dog until you've been to a vet and determined the underlying cause of the blood clot.
What is a dog aneurysm? What are the symptoms of a dog aneurysm symptoms?
A dog aneurysm is when a blood vessel becomes enlarged due to the weakening of the middle layer of the blood vessel. This can cause a blood clot to form, which can grow to obstruct the blood vessel entirely.
Dog aneurysms are rare and don't have any symptoms on their own. Symptoms only become apparent if abnormal bleeding or clotting occurs.
How to treat a blood clot in a dog's leg?
If you've noticed that your dog is suddenly showing lameness or coldness in his limbs, sometimes accompanied by pain, there may be a blood clot present.
Your first step in treating blood clots in dogs is always to get to your vet as soon as possible. Your vet will run some tests to rule out other possible causes of the lameness. Once a dog's blood clot has been diagnosed, your vet will try to remove the obstruction. Your vet will administer clot-dissolving medication, or surgery may be required to remove the clot manually.
Once the clot has been dealt with, your vet will prescribe medication like anti-inflammatories and blood thinners to prevent the formation of new clots.
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