The Easy Answer Isn’t Always The Right Answer: Buddy’s Nosebleeds

Buddy’s story is shared with us by Mary Kara, thank you, Mary.

Buddy is a 10-year-old Golden Retriever (neutered male). He is my little brother… he is a wonderful dog.

Even as a puppy, he was always a soft, sweet-tempered gentleman, with none of the crazy, challenging puppy antics that most people expect from retrievers.

Dog Conditions - Real-Life Stories: Buddy's Nosebleeds
When we answered the ad in the newspaper, he was the last puppy in the litter left, apparently the runt. He had been adopted once… and returned because he had diarrhea. How dumb was that? I’m so glad they were ignorant and petty because that gave him to us.

All through his life, Buddy had been a vocal dog; always “talking” to us with whines, moans, sighs, and groans.

So when he started snorting, that was just an addition to his repertoire. Once or twice last spring, he had a sneeze so strong that he struck his chin on the floor where he laid.

The vet suggested that he was experiencing some seasonal allergies. 

That was definitely possible. His symptoms at this point were some snorting, some sneezing, and infrequent reverse sneezing.

That April (last year), Buddy’s left ear developed a hematoma.

In his case, the ear flap inflated with fluid like a balloon.

At the vet, they decided that this was due to a mild ear infection, and the scratching was what triggered the hematoma. Ear wash cleared the infection, but nothing would clear the hematoma.

Our longtime vet, Dr. E, drained the ear several times of its fluid, but it wouldn’t stay empty for long. 

We tried binding his ear down close to his head and we tried more compression except with the ear up, but he hated it and it didn’t seem to help. Finally, after draining, compression, and then trying to leave it to resolve on its own for a month, we ended up having Dr. E surgically repair the ear flap at the end of June.

He drained it, opened a long slit on the underside, and stitched the flap in a quilt-like pattern. The ear stayed flat (but obviously a little swollen) while the stitches were in, and two weeks later the stitches were removed.

Three days after that, his ear started to fill again. 

We were leaving town for the weekend the next day, so we boarded him with Dr. E just to be on the safe side.

If we had left him in the care of our neighbor as we had planned, he would have died.

The next morning, as the techs took him on his walk, he had a big sneeze and began to violently bleed from both nostrils. 

They called Dr. E in from home and he later told us that he had never seen as much blood coming from a dog that wasn’t just shot or hit by a car in his 20+ years of practice.

Buddy got a blood transfusion and they stabilized him. 

X-rays of his head looked normal, but when monitoring his blood pressure they noticed that it was very high. So at that point, we began medicating him for hypertension and we thought that the stress of boarding and his high blood pressure had triggered the bleed when he had a powerful sneeze.

We took him home and things went back to normal for a while.

In August we adopted a three-year-old female Golden named Coco from the rescue SEVA GRREAT. She’s a big girl with some socialization problems but otherwise sweet and normal. Buddy loves canine company and he loves to wrestle, so while they took a little while to become friends; it is impossible to compare his happiness level before Coco and after Coco when referring to his sickness.

At the beginning of November, Buddy had another bleed.

It started sometime in the early morning before anyone was awake. This time it was much less violent than before, but it was a steady, quiet gush from his right nostril. It would bleed for an hour and subside for an hour, which went on a few times before we could get him to the vet.

When I went to put him in the car to go, he got excited and started spurting and sneezing all over the wall.

Our house looked like a murder scene. 

In this case, he didn’t need a blood transfusion, but when we took him home he kept bleeding, so we decided to board him with Dr. E. and get a diagnostic procedure called a rhinoscopy done, which is a small scope that goes into the nose and throat under anesthesia. We went to a doctor of Internal Medicine to do this (Dr. B).

Dr. B found multiple tumors of granulated tissue in his nasal passages and a small area of the pharynx!

The right nostril was completely occluded by tumor growth and the left was in the beginning stages.

Although he took biopsies and cultures for bacteria and fungus, no definite cause was found by the pathologist.

Because all other diagnoses were essentially ruled out, we accepted possible cancer as our functional diagnosis. 

Blood and urine tests also suggested that Buddy was in the early stages of chronic kidney failure, but it was far more likely that cancer would get him before the kidney disease would affect him.

Buddy recovered from the rhinoscopy pretty well and soon was back to wrestling with Coco.

Due to costs, quality of life concerns, and especially since we didn’t know what cancer we were dealing with, we decided against allopathic treatments like radiation or chemotherapy. 

I decided to see a new vet, Dr. C, who is a doctor of Internal Medicine and trained in acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM). We started a few herbal formulas and I changed from meat+veggie dehydrated raw food (The Honest Kitchen) to only a small amount of THK and mostly raw meat.

His blood and urine panels quickly improved—you wouldn’t at all be able to suggest that Buddy had kidney disease. 

We also started acupuncture which his joints have benefited from.

Buddy has had one more bleed since then, and we are doing a course of the cancer apoptosis drug Neoplasene.

At the time of the first nosebleed, I tried to ask if there was something that caused this nosebleed, and how we could find out. 

Dr. E said that since our X-rays were clean, we would do some antibiotics to go after any possible infection in the nose.

I was sort of unprepared to ask better questions at the time, but now better informed, I wish he had done more to inform us of the different causes of nosebleeds. 

I probably would have really pushed my family to have him go for the rhinoscopy at that time if I knew it was an option. I knew in my gut that something wasn’t right with him, ever since his ear swelled up (and his nose has had a correlation to his ear hematomas.)

Categories: ConditionsNosebleedsReal-life StoriesSymptoms

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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