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Published: Mar 12, 2012

Though it may not be well known, dog owners should be aware of a potentially serious bleeding disorder called von Willebrand's Disease (vWD). This inherited disease is found in both dogs and humans, and results in blood platelets not effectively sticking together in order to form clots. Since clots are one of the ways that the body naturally stops bleeding, dogs that suffer from this disease are in danger of bleeding excessively if they undergo surgery or experience some sort of cut or trauma.

Unfortunately, most dogs do not show outward signs of this condition until they begin to bleed. Some may experience spontaneous hemorrhaging from various orifices. For example, some dogs will have bleeding from the nose or a female dog may bleed excessively after giving birth or while in heat. If your dog suffers a cut and the bleeding doesn’t stop within a few minutes or appears to be uncontrollable, get the pet to an animal hospital right away.

According to VCA Animal Hospitals, vWD is more common in some breeds of dogs than others, although any breed can potentially be affected. Doberman pinschers tend to have the condition most often, and Scottish terriers, Chesapeake Bay retrievers and German shorthaired pointers can also be affected.  Dogs can be mildly or severely affected by the disorder.

Once a dog is diagnosed with the disease, there will be certain medications that they will need to avoid to prevent a bleeding crisis. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian about these medicines and ensure that any veterinary clinic you visit knows that the dog has vWD. There will be special considerations if surgery is ever required in a dog with vWD.