Nosebleeds, or "epistaxis" to give them their medical name, are very common in humans. The blood vessels in the nose can become damaged with relative ease and some of the most common causes of epistaxis include nose picking, trauma (combat sports, car accidents), and blowing too hard.
But the same isn't true for cats and dogs. Cats and dogs can get nosebleeds, and while some of the causes are just as harmless, there is a much greater chance that something is amiss.
Causes of Nosebleeds in Cats and Dogs
There are several reasons why your dog or cat may suffer from a nosebleed, including:
- Trauma: Occurs when your pet has suffered damage to the nose or head.
- Blood Clotting Disorders: Including hemophilia, von Willebrand disease, and a condition known as disseminated intravascular coagulation.
- Benign Tumors/Polyps: Although these tumors are harmless, they still need to be removed.
- Cancer: Includes a type of cancer known as nasal adenocarcinoma.
- Toxic Substances: If your dog has stuck its nose too close to some rat poison, bleach, or other harmful substances, it may suffer from nasal irritation or a bloody nose.
- Foreign Bodies: Pets aren't like kids and don't have the will or ability to stick things up their noses, but it still happens. Maybe your child did it for them. Maybe they stuck their nose too close to an object.
- Infections: Pets can contract a range of infections, including viral, bacterial, fungal infections, and parasites.
- Dental Diseases: If the pet food is going untouched and your pets not as greedy as they once were, the nasal problems could be the result of dental disease.
Dogs tend to be more susceptible to nosebleeds than cats, as they are less demanding about where they stick their noses. They are more likely to get stuck into rat poison, poke their noses into undergrowth and animal dens, and generally do things that make you question their self-preservation.
Some breeds are more problematic than others, including Dobermans, which are more prone to blood clotting disorders, and Rottweilers, which are at risk of immune-mediated thrombocytopenia (ITP).
Immune-mediated thrombocytopenia causes the immune system to treat platelets like foreign bacteria, seeking to destroy them and exposing the body to excessive bleeding and bruising.
What to Do if Your Dog or Cat Has a Bloody Nose
If your dog's nose bleeds and there is no obviously innocuous cause, such as an errant scratch from their paw or another pet, you should contact a veterinarian.
Monitor the situation to determine whether the bleeding is occurring on just one side (unilateral epistaxis) or both sides (bilateral epistaxis). It will help your veterinarian to determine whether the issue is caused by foreign bodies, tumors, and other issues that can occur in one nostril or if there is a problem with the body on the whole.
Keep your eyes open for other problems as well, including weight loss, black tarry stool (and other gastrointestinal issues), difficulty breathing, swelling, and bad odors.
Your veterinarian will do some blood work (including blood clotting tests), take necessary scans and x-rays, examine the problem nostril, and provide a diagnosis.
The sooner you get help, the sooner your veterinarian can fix the problem and ensure that your cat or dog stays happy and healthy for many years to come.
If you're really worried and things have taken a bad turn, contact the emergency clinic; if not, just book an appointment with your vet at the next available opportunity.