Health & Wellness
What to do if your dog or cat has a bloody nose
And when to get your vet involved.
No pet parents want to see their pet dealing with a bloody nose — especially when there are question marks around how their pet got one.
When it comes to both dogs and cats, bloody noses typically come on suddenly and are often caused by an upper respiratory infection or an injury.
The good news is, as long as the injury that caused the bloody nose wasn't too serious, your dog will likely be just fine as soon as the bleeding stops. But, there are some cases where you need to call your vet for advice.
Causes of nose bleed in pets
"Bloody noses can be very frightening because of the rich blood supply to the area," Dr. Kelly Diehl, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVIM (SAIM), a former vet and the senior scientific programs and communications adviser at Morris Animal Foundation, says. "Dogs and cats can bleed a lot, yet the pet can be fine. However, if there is more than a cup of blood noted, I always recommend that a pet parent at least contact their veterinarian (or emergency clinic) for guidance."
If a pet seems weak or ill after or during a nosebleed (regardless of the amount of blood lost), they need to be checked by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
A bloody nose can also signify that something more serious is occurring. If they haven't had any accidents, the bloody nose may be a sign of a clotting disorder. When blood can't clot, any wound or bump can be life-threatening.
Clotting issues known for bloody noses in pets include:
- Ingestion of rodenticide (rat poison)
- Von Willebrand disease
- Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC)
- Immune-Mediated Thrombocytopenia (IMTP)
- Liver failure
Sometimes systemic disease is to blame. The tick-borne diseases Ehrlichia and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can both cause bloody noses in pets. And other times, local diseases like nasal tumors or nasal fungal disease can cause the nosebleed.
Of course, nose bleeds are easy to diagnose, but the underlying causes often aren't. If an injury or respiratory infection isn't to blame, routine blood work and other clotting tests may be recommended by your vet to find the cause. Occasionally, high blood pressure is to blame for nose bleeds, so your veterinarian will also likely check for that.
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Bloody nose treatment options for dogs and cats
If your pet has a sudden bloody nose, try to remain calm. But more importantly, try to keep your pet calm to keep their blood pressure normal.
"It's really tough to deal with bloody noses in cats," Dr. Diehl warns. "I usually tell people to try to get the cat in a confined area where they can stay calm and not move around a lot. However, if bleeding persists or stops and starts, and for sure if they see more than 2-3 tablespoons of blood, they should seek veterinary care."
You can try holding a cold pack to your pet's nose to staunch the flow of blood if they let you. Be sure to leave the nasal passages free so your pet can breathe.
"Most pet parents can tell if bleeding is excessive or not stopping or slowing," Dr. Diehl says. "A trickier question is if pet parents see a little blood occasionally from the nose. It's fairly unusual for dogs and cats to have lots of little nose bleeds, so you should contact your veterinarian if you're seeing even small amounts of bleeding consistently."
Usually, a bloody nose will resolve on its own, and if it's a one-time thing, you may not even need to visit the vet. But a bloody nose that doesn't stop or recurs should be brought to your vet's attention, as it could signal a more serious condition.
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