Canine Von Willebrand’s Disease

Canine Von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD) is a hereditary disorder that makes it harder for a dogs’ blood to clot. It’s caused by an inherited deficiency in the von Willebrand factor, which is a protein that helps platelets stick together to form clots and stop bleeding. vWD can cause excessive bleeding during surgery as well as spontaneous bleeding from their nose, gums, and other parts of their body.

Symptoms of Canine Von Willebrand’s Disease

The most common symptom of Von Willebrand’s Disease is excessive bleeding. The excessive bleeding can be seen in the form of nosebleeds, gum bleeds, and other types of spontaneous bleeding from their body. In some cases, dogs might also have blood in their urine, vomit blood, and cough up blood.

Dogs with vWD can have prolonged bleeding during surgery or after an injury.

Diagnosing Canine Von Willebrand’s Disease

Diagnosing Von Willebrand’s Disease can be made through a combination of physical examination, medical history review, and laboratory tests. During the physical exam, your veterinarian will look for signs of excessive bleeding or other abnormal findings related to the disease. They might ask questions about your dog’s medical history, including any previous surgeries or injuries that could have had excessive bleeding.

In order to be able to diagnose Von Willebrand’s Disease, your veterinarian will likely recommend laboratory testing. Common tests used to diagnose vWD include a complete blood count (CBC), clotting time test, and DNA test.

Stages of Canine Von Willebrand’s Disease

Von Willebrand’s Disease is split into three stages based on the severity of symptoms and laboratory values.

Stage 1

In stage 1, there are mild to moderate signs of vWD, including prolonged bleeding during surgery or after an injury. These signs might not be immediately apparent and might only become visible with stress or injury.

Stage 2

In stage 2, there are moderate to severe signs of vWD, including spontaneous nosebleeds, gum bleeds, and other types of bleeding. Prolonged bleeding during surgery or after injury is likely to occur.

Stage 3

This is the most severe form of vWD and is associated with severe bleeding. Spontaneous bleeding from multiple parts of their body is likely to occur. Prolonged bleeding during surgery or after injury is expected.

Treating Canine Von Willebrand’s Disease

In cases of mild vWD, treatment is not usually necessary and your dog can live a relatively normal life. Dogs with more severe forms of the disorder will need medications to help control their bleeding episodes. These medications can include desmopressin acetate (DDAVP), antifibrinolytic drugs, and vitamin K. Blood transfusions might be necessary in some cases.

Preventing Canine Von Willebrand’s Disease

The best way to prevent Von Willebrand’s Disease is through responsible breeding. Dogs that are known to be carriers of vWD should not be bred and those with the disease should not be used for breeding. It’s important for potential pet owners to research a dog’s health history before adopting or purchasing them in order to ensure that they have not inherited vWD.