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von Willebrand disease - vWD

von Willebrand disease, also called vWD, is the most common inherited blood clotting disorder in dogs. It's the result of an insufficient amount of von Willebrand factor (vWF), which is a plasma protein that helps blood to clot. vWD can result in excessive, serious bleeding from even a minor skin wound.

Symptoms and Types

  • Spontaneous hemorrhage from mucosal surfaces:

    • Nosebleeds

    • Blood in the feces (black or bright red blood)

    • Bloody urine

    • Bleeding from the gums

    • Bleeding from the vagina (excessively)

  • Bruising of skin

  • Prolonged bleeding after surgery or trauma

  • Blood loss anemia if there is prolonged bleeding

Unfortunately, von Willebrand disease can’t be cured. But it can be managed.The treatment goals are to control bleeding, reduce the number of bleeding events, and correct any underlying conditions that might be contributors to the disorder.

Dogs with von Willebrand’s may require blood transfusions during surgical procedures to restore levels of vWF to allow normal blood clotting to occur. Several transfusions can be required for dogs with the severe form of this disease.

Steps can be taken to increase a vWD dog’s blood clotting ability in order to reduce surgical risks. These include giving IV clotting factors and medications prior to a procedure.

Bleeding caused by external wounds can be controlled by bandages, pressure wraps, sutures, or skin glue.

Dogs with this disease should be prevented from rough play with each other or with people, as even minor injuries to their joints or body can be pretty risky. Hard bones and treats or hard toys that may cause bleeding from the gums should also be avoided.

Since von Willebrand dogs tend to also develop hypothyroidism, I think it’s a really good idea to have an annual thyroid test for dogs with the condition.

There are certain drugs that should not be given to dogs with vWD, including NSAIDs and medications that involve any type of anticoagulant or anti-platelet activity. And there are also a few supplements that should not be given in high doses, including vitamins C and E, the proanthocyanidins such as grape seed extract and pine bark, as well as high doses of omega-3 fatty acids.

There is a DNA test for this if you suspect your dog may have vWD 

Vet Gen, Pawprint genetics, 

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