Because of their anatomy, dogs don’t get nosebleeds with every little bump to the nose as people do. Should you worry about your dog’s nosebleeds?
I emphasized how important it is to take your dog’s nosebleeds seriously in Bella’s story. I am talking about bleeds directly from the inside of the nose, not surface bleeds where you might be able to actually find the wound and determine the cause quite easily.
Where is the blood coming from?
If your dog’s nose is bleeding the blood might be coming from any of the following places:
- a nostril
- nasal cavity
- the upper part of the pharynx
Nosebleeds are upsetting and messy. Particularly since dogs often also start sneezing as a result of blood in their nostrils. If the bleeding isn’t stopping on its own, you will quite likely rush your dog to the vet.
When it does stop, though, should you still go to see your veterinarian? Like with everything else, it depends.
It is possible but not overly likely that the bleed was caused by a simple trauma. Nosebleeds don’t happen for no reason and, unfortunately, most of the time it is something nasty and/or urgent. Even if the bleed was minor and stopped on its own, it is best to have it checked.
Jasmine had a little nose bleed once. Very little blood and it stopped quickly. She was fine otherwise. it’s possible that her nose bleed was from a nose-to-nose impact with JD when they both tried to grab a toy at the same time.
I did not rush to the vet but I did bring it up during her next appointment because we were at the clinic frequently. Nothing wrong was found and her nose never bled again.
Some upper respiratory tract infections can cause an acute nosebleed. But you’d likely observe other symptoms as well.
Nosebleeds that don’t stop or keep coming back
What if the nose keeps bleeding, or it happens more than once? Ask yourself whether your dog might have:
- an internal injury
- a foreign body lodged inside the nose or deeper within the respiratory tract
- been exposed to rodenticides
- on any medication
- have an infection
- severe dental disease
- serious disease or even cancer?
Are there any worrisome signs accompanying the nose bleed?
Conditions that can cause nosebleeds
Your dog’s nosebleed can be caused by a problem within the nose itself or systemic disease.
The most common local causes include:
- foreign bodies
- fungal infections
Bleeding disorders are the most common systemic cause behind nosebleeds.
If the issue is local, you’re likely to see discharge or bleeding only from one nostril. With a bleeding disorder being the cause, both nostrils will bleed as well as there will be bleeding elsewhere.
Does one nostril seem congested? Some foreign bodies in the nasal passage can be quite dangerous, such as foxtails. Not only do foxtails cause a local problem but they can enter through the nose, ears, paws or skin, travel through the body and make their way into internal organs.
A dog with a foreign body in his nose is also likely to sneeze violently, shake their head or show other signs of distress and discomfort. The discharge might be bloody but it can also be pus.
Foreign bodies can also become lodged in the lungs or airways leading to them and result in the blood that may drain from the nose.
Some fungal organisms and bacterial infections can also result in nose bleeds. Primary bacterial infections are, however, rare and often occur secondary to a tumor. Particularly tick-borne diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever or Ehrlichia fall under systemic causes.
Ehrlichia causes a reduced platelet count (cells that help the blood to clot), resulting in nose bleeds or other abnormal bleeding. With Rocky Mountain spotted fever, the bacteria can also infect and damage the lining of blood vessels.
Other symptoms might include:
- loss of appetite
- enlarged lymph nodes
- difficulty breathing
- painful and swollen joints
Many rodenticides are anticoagulants, which means they adversely affect the ability of blood to clot. Your dog might also vomit blood or bleed from the gums or rectum. This can be accompanied by internal bleeding. Besides a nose bleed, your dog could also be weak and unstable, have difficulty breathing, have bruising under the skin or swelling of the abdomen. Their gums might be pale.
Some medications can increase the risk of bleeding, such as some antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, and aspirin. Aspirin acts as a blood thinner and reduces clotting capability.
Blood clotting disorders
Disorders that affect the blood’s ability to clot, such as Von Willebrand’s disease (VWD), hemophilia, immune-mediated thrombocytopenia, result in abnormal bleeding, including nosebleeds.
Dogs suffering from a clotting disorder can have prolonged or excessive bleeding after injury, blood in urine or stool, skin bruising, bleeding from gums and nose …
Spontaneous bleeding occurs in dogs with advanced liver disease or liver failure because the liver is responsible for making clotting factors.
Liver failure can have many causes; all it took for Jasmine was one event of severe drug-induced hyperthermia. Among other things, she was bruising all over, including the skin over her abdomen and tongue (those were the places where it could be seen easily).
High blood pressure
It is rare but hypertension (high blood pressure) can also cause nosebleeds. Dogs can develop high blood pressure as a result of another disease (like kidney failure) or as a primary problem with no detectable underlying cause.
And last but unfortunately by far not least, recurring nose bleeds can be caused by nasal tumors. In fact, nasal tumors are the most common cause of persistent nose bleeds in dogs, especially in individuals with longer than average snouts.
If your dog has recurrent nose bleeds, put cancer on top of your list of things to look for or to, hopefully, rule out.
Symptoms may include intermittent and progressively worsening nasal discharge and/or bleeding from one or both nostrils. In some cases, you can see facial deformity. Neurological signs might be present if the tumor is invading the brain cavity.
With a serious trauma, there will usually be other signs, such as evidence of physical injury or neurological damage. Signs of a serious problem could be as subtle as pupils that don’t react to light properly or as serious as balance issues, seizures or loss of consciousness. Does your dog look and act normal? Are both pupils the same size? Do they shrink when you direct a flashlight towards them?
Signs of internal bleeding can include rapid heartbeat, rapid or deep breathing, pale or bluish gums, lethargy, weakness, unsteadiness, confusion, glazed eyes, and loss of consciousness.
Try not to panic
Some more benign causes of nose bleeds are nasal polyps or nasal mites. Nasal mites often cause irritation to the nose and a lot of sneezing or reverse sneezing.
Polyps are benign growths but can affect a dog’s ability to pass air normally through the nose. The good news is both of these conditions can be cured with appropriate therapy.
Be on your toes
With nose bleeds, be on your toes. Do take this symptom seriously, particularly if the bleeding is severe or keeps happening.
The Easy Answer Isn’t Always The Right Answer: Buddy’s Nosebleeds
Nose Bleeds in Dogs