September 9, 2011
Von Willebrand’s Disease

Clotting factor disorders are those whereby the proteins in the blood, which are part of the clotting process are, for various reasons, not functional or even present in adequate quantities.{{more}}

Although few dogs are affected this way, the problem, when present, is usually hereditary. Blood clotting proteins are called clotting factors. These factors react in step-like fashion, similar to how one domino falls onto another until a chain is made. Failure of any one of these factors to function properly, or an absence thereof, will result in clotting failures.

A discussion of the clotting process, the genetics of various deficiencies and all the breeds that can be affected is far beyond the scope of this program. Fortunately, the genetics of these conditions makes this an extremely rare problem. Many Doberman Pinschers, among other breeds, can be affected with what is known as Von Willebrand’s Disease, which is simply a specific name given to dogs with an exact type of defect. Many of these dogs, however, do suffer from hypothyroidism as well. Clotting factor disease is related to what we call Hemophilia in people.

Clinical symptoms will vary with the type of disease, if more than one problem at a time is present and because of natural variation in severity that occurs with each different condition. It should again be noted that multiple defects described above could be present at the same time, greatly complicating the severity of the problem.

The main clinical sign is bleeding. This can be manifest as small or larger hemorrhages or bruises on the skin, lips, gums and other moist membranes. Bleeding from gums, lips, anus or genitals may occur. Bloody or dark stools may be present. Some dogs may have spontaneous nosebleeds or bloody urine, or blood clots may form under the skin. Dogs may fail to clot when small cuts or cut toenails bleed. Dogs can undergo “routine” surgery and bleed heavily during or after the surgery. In most cases, bleeding is sudden, unexpected and without warning. Many dogs have otherwise been normal.