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Canine Von Willebrand's disease
Von Willebrands Disease is the most common of bleeding disorders in dogs and humans.
Von Willebrand’s isn’t so much a disease as a condition. Of all the inherited bleeding disorders in animals (and humans) it is the most common. The defect isn’t autosomal (sex linked) so both males and females can suffer from the “disease.” It must be remembered that just because a dog doesn’t show symptoms of von Willebrand’s, it doesn’t mean it can’t be a carrier.
Von Willebrand’s was discovered in humans and called a “disease” in the 1920s by a Finnish doctor coincidentally named, von Willebrand. After further research, he was able to figure out the illness was actually linked to a missing factor in the blood’s clotting ability.
Modern research has found von Willebrand’s doesn’t lower the number of platelets (the factor in the blood that causes clotting) but changes the platelet’s actual make up. Researchers have discovered there are twelve “factors” that go into the platelet’s make up and allows them to work properly. They have set up a “Cascading Clotting Tree” to mark and show the different factors. Von Willebrand’s affects Factor 8 on this tree.
There is a large, multimeric glycoprotein that is labeled as vWF. This glycoprotein circulates in the plasma and is required for platelet adhesion. When there is a defect in the vWF gene, there is an insufficient synthesis of the vWF glycoprotein. This insufficiency causes the platelets to fail in their adhesion or “sticking together.” Like water coming through a damn with a hole in it, the platelet “leaks” and bleeding continues.
Von Willebrand’s seldom happens in cats but it is very common in various breeds of dogs. In all, some sixty different purebred breeds have been commonly linked to von Willebrand’s with the Doberman Pinscher having the highest incidence. Clinical trials conducted on 15,000 Dobermans showed seventy percent of them were carriers of the disease. Of these 15,000 Dobermans, the majority of them didn’t show clinical signs. Another study estimated 68%-73% of Dobermans had the disease
Although Dobermans are the most commonly affected by von Willebrand’s Disease, they usually have the milder forms. It is also one reason Dobermans have such a lower survival rate of diseases such as Parvovirus, which attacks the gastro-intestinal tract and causes bleeding.
Other breeds that have a high incidence of von Willebrand’s disease are Shetland sheepdogs, Scottish terriers, Airedale terriers, Bassett hounds, Dachshunds, German shepherds, Keeshonds, Corgies, Rottweilers, Poodles, Schnauzers and Golden retrievers.
Often von Willebrand’s will show no clinical signs until the dog begins bleeding for some reason. This reason could be something as simple as a nail trim, spay or neuter or a heat cycle in females or even teething in a puppy. While some dogs never show clinical signs of the disease, others may have nosebleeds or vaginal or penile bleeding. Bleeding from the urinary tract, gums or other mucous membranes and hemorrhaging under the skin are all common symptoms of von Willebrand’s Disease. Females with von Willebrand’s may experience excessive bleeding after whelping (giving birth).
There are three classifications of von Willebrand’s disease:
Type I – low vWF concentration. This is the most common of types and is typical of Dobermans, Airedales and at least one-third of Shelties. The clinical symptoms may vary in severity.
Type II –Uncommon form of von Willebrand’s that is attributed to German Shorthaired Pointers.
Type III – The most severe of types. It has the highest deficiency of vWF and is a typical defect in Scotties, Chesapeake Bay retrievers and the remaining two-thirds of affected Shelties.
Studies have shown hyperthyroidism may raise the risk of bleeding complications in animals that have von Willebrand’s Disease.
To diagnose von Willebrand’s Disease a veterinarian will often conduct a CBC (complete blood count), urinalysis, blood clotting time or a “buccal mucosal” screening time. The buccal mucosal bleeding time uses a test strip that is tied around the maxilla (upper jaw) that then causes engorgement in the folded-back area. Normal blood clotting time is somewhere between 1.5 to 2.6 minutes.
It is interesting to note many Dobermans and other high risk breeds may go through routine ear trims, tail docks, early spays or neuters and show no signs of von Willebrand’s then at a much later time in their life show the classic symptoms.
There is no cure for von Willebrand’s but there are some precautions an owner can take to reduce the risks to their dog. Avoid drugs that are known to inhibit platelet functions. Aspirin is a prime example of one of these drugs. Others include antihistamines, sulfa- or penicillin based antibiotics, Ibuprofen, the tranquilizer phenothiazine, heparin and theophylline.
Veterinarians have found that thyroid supplementation can lower the tendency in some dogs to bleed while raising the level of vWF concentration.
There is also a drug called DDAVP that can also increase the vWF protein concentration although the response to the drug is variable. It has been shown to raise the concentration in dogs that do not have von Willebrand’s disease. The use in these dogs may not be apparent until it is realized it takes a dog to donate blood for a transfusion to another dog. In case of an emergency or severe trauma, this donated blood is often the only thing that can save the dog’s life.
For owners of breeds that are more prone to having von Willebrand’s disease, there is a specialized test that can determine the exact amount of the von Willebrand protein that is present in the blood. If the test comes back positive for the disease, it won’t necessary help the dog on a daily basis but will come in handy to know if the dog ever requires emergency treatment or undergoes any type of surgery.
Von Willebrand’s disease isn’t an automatic death sentence to dogs. Many of the dogs that have the condition will live normal lives with no complications. For those that do show clinical signs, there are always options for the owner to guarantee the best quality of life the pet can have.
* I wouldn't put her to sleep, either....Is it possible to get copies of your records for her and head to another Vet? I understand money is a factor, but you could call around and find another Vet that will take a payment plan for services.....
For your Vet to say "Put her to sleep" without finding out what's wrong with her, bothers me....Also, Post your exact question in the "Ask A Vet Forum" ( Right above the Community Forum) and see what they say... Come back and let us know.....Maybe others can give you some insight.....Keep checking back.......Karla
Try to call around and see if there are any vets in your area that might take payments. My vet always allows me to leave a post dated check or make payments if the bill is extremely high. Of course though I live in a small town and the vet I use acutally cares about the animals, she isn't in it just for the money. I had a rat terrier when I was 15 that someone poisoned and the bill for that was way up there but she kept him there and kept treating him even though we didn't have the money right then and there. We ended up having him put down because he was such a small dog (less than 5 lbs) that the poison was just too much for him. She was wonderful and I have taken all my animals to her since. She inspired me and now I am going to school to become a vet. I have been in the situation where one of my fur babies needs vet treatment and I don't have the money so I plan to help the animals no matter what. What good is it being a vet if you don't help the animals that really need it just because of a little money!!!
Good Luck and I hope your baby gets better soon!!! Keep us posted!
Thanks to both of you for your comments and support ! I will look into the von Willebrand's disease to see if it mirrors her situation. I will also look into the payment plan option with a new vet - so few vets are willing to or able to do that now, but I just moved to a new area, so maybe there is one here that will do that.
I also posted the same question in the the Ask A Vet section - I am so glad that I found this site.
Thank you also for not "flaming" me re: cost issue. I really appreciate that ! I am doing the best I can for her. God Bless !
Yes, Like Misfits4Me, I also feel that for a vet to just say "put her to sleep" without bothering to find out what's wrong with her is akin to letting an elderly person lie on their bed and die just because they are "getting on a bit".....
If she were my dog, and I had seen that there was still a lot of life in her (and an owner can usually tell a thing like that because they know their dog like no-one else does)- then I would be willing to get this investigated and hopefully treated.
Also, Check out "CARE CREDIT'......It's a credit card made for human & ANIMALS medical assistance.....ALot of Vets & surgery centers will accept it for animal needs....It's like any credit card......They pay the bill and then you pay monthly installments back to the card company.....As I remember, the interest rate was very reasonable.....
You might check them out online & get some information......As I don't know what the protocol is to sign up......Anyway, just a thought....
The only way I knew it existed was in an emergency situation with one of my guys.....I saw the notice at the desk of the Surgery Center & asked what it was......They explained it to me.....It does make sense!
Let us know what happens and come back when you can or feel the need......Good luck to your furgirl.......Karla
P.S. There was a man on this forum a few weeks ago that said he had called around and actually found a Vet that worked based on the Clients income.....In his instance, I believe he was out of work, but was able to get an appointment with this Vet......I think he had to wait a week or so.....I thought that was great that someone offered these kind of services as I think they are vital in today's economy......Take care...
Hi _ just wanted to post an update. I still am no further ahead on what to do about my poor dog. I found who I thought was a good referral for a vet - he has a "whatever" attitude and although no suggestions, he was more of the mind that she has lived a good long life. Really?
I am trying a new vet again next week. I do not think it is von Willebrands - the bleeding is definitely vaginal - there is no sign of hemmoraging or bleeding anywhere else. Now over the past 2 days - no bleeding at all. If the pattern of the past continues, she will start bleeding again with a couple of days..
I was hoping you had found some answers. I have a dog that has bleeding there as well. She just keeps getting UTI 's one after the other. Your dog might have crystals that are cutting her when she using the bathroom, they might be very large. First thought is give her 500 mg vit C, and cranberry pills. I would ask a new vet if you can bring in some urine for them to do a culture. Tell them of your hardship situation, most will work with you on that. The culture cost around $100.00 , but that will help them see what bacteria is bothering your dog. I have to get urine from my girl today and get to the vet's, my dog get a UTI every 6 months it seems.
Please post back what you learn.
I wonder if this is caused either by "stump pyometra" or a bad bladder infection?
When she was given antibiotics (which are usually to treat an infection) did the vet say what kind of infection she might have?
That's true, that Urinary tract infections are liable to recur. They do not usually cause profuse bleeding like this, but that's not to say they can't.
It is also possible she may now be suffering from anemia. That needs checking out.
I don't know all the details about "Care Credit" (as I live in the UK and we don't have that here) -but I have heard of it from other members here. That would definitely be worth checking out.
Otherwise, do you have any items you could sell? (even things you like having such a digital camera/ an extra car/even your computer??....would be worth it for your girl. Objects are always, at some time or another -replaceable. But she is not. She may not live forever, but at least you would know you'd done all you can for her, and feel better for that.
I did some reading in an old vet book I bought sometime back. One thing I came across was she might be in Pre-renal failure. It states that the Kidneys are normal but that this condition can start off causing harm to other parts of the body, one item mentions Blood loss throught the vagina ( pee area) . One sign was also low blood pressure. The good news, is if it is this, it is treatable...sorry, not cureable...but she could live a long time in this condition.
A month ago I thought one of my pups was in kidney failure but tunred out his thyroid was shot.
Do you have access to a vet teaching school, maybe they would help you?
Hi there. I noticed that you posted this message quite a long time ago; but I would really like to know the outcome of the situation you mentioned. I, too, have a dog who is bleeding vaginally ever since she came into heat 5 weeks ago. There is no end in sight.
My vet is thinking it may be von Wildebrand's Disease. It seems that the disease can lay dormant for many, many years (my dog is 8 years old); then during the event of one of their heat-cycles, the disease can come alive, stimulated by "estrogen-production." The bleeding then will be seen coming from the vagina, just like a heat cycle.
I think you said that your dog had been spayed. If the veterinarian did not remove ALL of the uterine tissue and/or especially part of an ovary, the female dog will continue to produce estrogen in some varied amount. I don't know if that was what happened with your girl; but I'd love to know what you ultimately found out and what the outcome was.
I am taking my girl to the state veterinarian referral clinic later this week for testing and diagnosis of her problem.
I know it has been some time since you posted about your dog experiencing prolonged vaginal bleeding but I thought it was worth a shot. My 5 year old mini dachshund Abby is experiencing what sounds like that same thing. It has been going on for about 2 months now and she wears a diaper with a pad I change several times a day. We have spent a small fortune trying to find answers and are no closer than when we started. Please let me know if you ever found any help with your situation.
I have a 2 year old doberman mix who has been bleeding now from her vagina for 3 weeks along with being very swollen... i took her to the animal er after noticing she seem to be in pain i thought she was in heat but i was wrong the vet suggested having her spayed to solve the problem should i ask for further test to be done first before having that done???
You are posting on an old thread.
Any reason you don't want her spay? It is really healthier in the long run fir the dog and no possibility if her getting accidentally bred or getting an infection.
Is there a chance she was bred???
Unfourtunatly my 12 yr old chiuaua is doing the same thing. More blood than urine coming out. My vet said it sounds like cancer in her bladder. She gave me a shot to hopefully slow the bleeding down but said the same thing. Look into putting her to sleep. Xray will be at least 300 then surgery to remove the mass, and because of her age and heart murmer no guarantee she will make it through. So sorry
Hi everyone, firstly I'd like to say that I'm impressed with the quality of responses and information you have all provided, I don't feel quite so lost about my own situation now...I recently rescued a 13 year old female German Shepherd and she has been bleeding from her vagina the whole time. Her previous owner suffers from an acquired brain injury and hasn't given me any information about her that is correct or makes sense - prime example is that he said she wasn't desexed but when I rang to update her registration details, they said their records show that she IS desexed. She has a visible lump on her undercarriage which he couldn't remember what the vet said it was so I took her to my local vet who assumed it was malignant breast cancer and found two more lumps during a physical examination - the assumption being based around non desexed females being in a higher risk category for malignant tumors....shouldn't my vet have been able to tell if the dog was desexed or not? I spent $200 on a checkup and pain medication for what the vet assumed was a combo of a neurological disorder affecting her ability to control her hind legs and arthritis - no mention of dysplasia as they are commonly known for. So I'm reluctant to continue spending potentially hundreds of dollars (which I don't have anyway) on an animal that I only intended to provide comfort care for until her time comes. I'm just worried that she may be in pain and is not showing it because she is focussed on the love she gets now and had never had in her whole life.....
Yunnan baiyao Chinese herb slops bleeding, look it up on line for dog use and humans!