Bloody Nose in Dogs and Cats: Nothing to Sneeze About PDF Print E-mail

The owners of dogs and cats that develop nosebleeds without a history of trauma should get their pets to veterinarians as soon as possible. Nosebleed (epistaxis) is often a symptom of a serious disease. A veterinarian presented with a patient that has epistaxis will first want to rule out a blood clotting disorder. This can be done easily and quickly with some assorted blood tests. Ingestion of rodent poisons and low platelets are the two most common clotting disorders that cause nosebleeds in dogs and cats. Both conditions are usually treatable once diagnosed.

If the epistaxis is not a result of a clotting disorder, then other possibilities must be considered. Abscessed teeth, fungal infection, intranasal foreign bodies, and tumors (cancers), as well as allergic disorders must all be considered.

These conditions can be diagnosed by various methods. Finding severe periodontal disease during the exam of the patient may prompt the veterinarian to recommend dental radiographs to confirm a tooth root abscess. If the teeth look great, but the owner comments that the symptoms began right after the patient was running thru a field of high grass, the veterinarian may recommend rhinoscopy to view the nasal cavity and search for a foreign body such as a blade of grass.

However, if the history given by the owner and physical examination done by the veterinarian does not give a clue as to the cause of the epistaxis, then a series of tests may need to be done. Once the bloodwork is shown to be normal, then radiographs of the nasal cavity can be next on the list of diagnostics. As a more expensive alternative, a CT scan or an MRI of the nasal cavity may also be done. These tests show the nasal cavity in more detail than radiographs. Ultimately, with the aid of a rhinoscope, tissue samples from the nasal cavity may be required to reach a diagnosis after the nasal cavity has been fully examined with the rhinoscope.

This sounds like quite a bit of work for a nosebleed. However, this is often needed to obtain a diagnosis. And once a diagnosis is achieved, then specific therapy can be chosen which can either cure the condition, or at least control it for a time so the patient can be comfortable.
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