If your dog is bleeding from the nose or mouth, seek veterinary care as soon as possible. This is usually a sign of a serious underlying cause. Dogs do not get “nosebleeds” as humans do. Bleeding from the nose, or epistaxis, is a common symptom of tumours. Bleeding from the mouth may be the result of an oral injury, such as a laceration or broken tooth, but could also indicate internal bleeding.
First Aid for Epistaxis
If your dog’s nose is bleeding, try to control the bleeding and get your dog to the veterinarian quickly. Although it is alarming, do not panic. Your dog will sense your fear and this could elevate his blood pressure, exacerbating the condition. Keep your dog as calm and still as possible. Apply a cold compress or ice pack to the bridge of the nose, but do not obstruct the nostrils. The cold will constrict the blood vessels, slowing the bleeding.
Examine your dog’s mouth if possible to check for lacerations, signs of gum disease or dental damage. The dog may have eaten something sharp, like a piece of metal or glass. If there is no visible source of bleeding in the mouth, the dog may be bleeding internally, a common result of physical trauma. If the dog is bleeding from the nose as well, the oral bleeding could be a result of nasal blood draining into the throat. In this case, the dog may also experience vomiting with blood in it and may pass black, tar-like stool.
A fungal infection of the nose is a common cause of canine nasal bleeding. Your vet may perform a blood test, but because there are many different strains of fungus that can infect a dog’s nasal passages, blood testing is not always accurate. Dogs may also suffer from bacterial or parasitic nasal infections that can cause bleeding.
Tumours and Cancer
Several types of cancer can cause nosebleeds by thickening the blood, which results in added pressure, breaking the blood vessels. Lymphoma, myeloma and some types of leukaemia can cause this symptom. Tumours localised to the nasal passages can also cause bleeding. Canine nose tumours often occur in older dogs of particular breeds, including basset hounds, collies, Labrador retrievers and others. These tumours may be benign or malignant.
There are several other possible causes of epistaxis. Trauma accounts for nearly a third of all canine epistaxis cases. This could be a result of a blow to the head or being struck by a vehicle. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, may cause the nasal blood vessels to rupture. In some cases, an upper tooth has abscessed and penetrated the nasal cavity.
Your veterinarian may have to perform several tests to find the underlying cause of the epistaxis or oral bleeding. These may include blood tests, X-rays, nasal swabs, endoscopy, biopsy or surgery. Some of these procedures may require anaesthesia.