Von Willebrand Disease in Dogs

Von Willebrand Disease is a genetically inherited condition that leads to blood clotting problems in dogs. When a healthy dog injures himself, several protein factors produced by platelets and blood vessels, cause a chain reaction and form a clot. Each factor that causes the chain reaction in the blood is numbered.

Pets suffering from Von Willebrand’s Disease lack a particular substance that helps to stabilize the Von Willebrand's factor (Factor 8) and this prevents the chain reaction from taking place. Such p ets bleed profusely when injured due to the lack of prompt blood clotting. However, there are 3 types of Von Willebrand’s Disease that occur in pets and as a pet owner you need to understand the difference between them.

Types of Von Willebrand’s Disease

Type-1 Von Willebrand’s Disease generally occurs in a few breeds like German Shepherds, Standards Poodle’s and the Shetland Sheepdog. Although such pets have the Von Willebrand’s factor, the proteins that make up this factor are present in negligible amounts.

Conversely, pet’s that suffer from Type-2 Von Willebrand’s Disease don’t have large proteins that make up the factor. They are thus left with small proteins that are incapable of completing the chain reaction.

Although Type 2 is fairly common in canines, Type 3 Von Willebrand’s Disease is known to occur in several breeds.

Pets suffering from the Type 3 disease have not even the slightest amount of the Von Willebrand’s Factor in their blood. Such pets are at greatest risk of severe bleeding. As your pet’s care taker you should monitor your dog and seek medical help if you notice any of the symptoms of this disease.

Symptoms of Von Willebrand’s Disease:

  • Bleeding after surgery
  • Dog bleeds profusely after injury
  • Bleeding from the joints
  • Bloody stool or urine
  • Low platelet count

Diagnosis of Von Willebrand’s Disease

Since the symptoms of the disease arise only when the dog has been in an injury or if the pet needs to undergo surgery, the diagnosis of this condition is often delayed. The vet will perform a blood test to determine the amount of Von Willebrand’s Factor that’s present in the blood. The amount of Von Willebrand’s Factor that’s detected in the blood is then compared to the levels present in healthy pets. If the diagnosis is confirmed, the vet will perform other tests to rule out canine hypothyroidism.

Treatment of Von Willebrand’s Disease

The vet may prescribe hormone replacement medication if the dog has an underlying hypothyroid problem along with Von Willebrand’s Disease. However the most common treatment option adopted is blood transfusion. This involves the transfusion of blood taken from a healthy pet, to the ailing pet’s body. This helps to alter the platelet count and prevents bleeding.

Pets suffering from this disease can lose their life if they meet with an accident and bleed profusely. Apart from this they can’t undergo surgical procedures because of impaired blood clotting capability. To make sure that your pet is in optimal health, you should administer all prescribed medication on time, conduct regular blood tests to determine the amount of Von Willebrand’s factor present in the blood and avoid using your pet for breeding purposes.