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What Causes Bloody Noses In Dogs And Cats?

What You Need to Know About Pet Nosebleeds

By Meredith Alling. July 07, 2014 | See Comments

A Dog And Cat Sitting Together

It can be scary to see blood dripping from your pet’s nose. Find out what causes nosebleeds in dogs and cats and what you should do if your pet gets one.

If you’ve ever had a nosebleed, you know how alarming it can be. The same is true if you’ve ever had a pet with a nosebleed. When blood comes out of your pet’s nose -- whether in the form of a sneeze or a steady drip from one or both nostrils -- it is not normal, and it is important to identify the cause. While some pet nosebleeds may be the result of something minor, others can point to a more serious disease.

What to Do if Your Pet Gets a Nosebleed

First things first: if your dog or cat gets a nosebleed, you’ll want to try to stop the bleeding.

  • Remain calm. If your pet sees that you are upset or frantic, it may raise their blood pressure, which can result in more bleeding.

  • Make an ice pack and apply it to the bridge of your pet’s nose, ensuring that they are still able to breathe comfortably. The cold constricts blood vessels, which can slow the bleeding.

  • Do not give your pet any medication to stop the bleeding unless instructed by your veterinarian.

  • If the bleeding does not stop or your pet seems to be having trouble breathing (or is showing any other unusual symptoms), go to your vet’s office or the emergency pet clinic immediately.

When a pet gets a nosebleed, they are likely to swallow a lot of draining blood. This may lead to dark stools or vomit with blood clots in it. This is normal after a nosebleed and doesn’t necessarily point to a more serious problem. However, you should contact your veterinarian if your pet’s stools don’t return to normal or if they continue to vomit.

Determining the Cause of a Dog or Cat’s Bloody Nose

A nosebleed -- or epistaxis -- can be caused by many things, including injuries, poisoning, a foreign object stuck in the nose, drug reactions, blood clotting disorders, and a number of diseases.

To figure out the cause of your pet’s bloody nose, your veterinarian will first perform a physical examination and ask you a series of questions about your pet.

Questions that may come up if your pet has a nosebleed may include:

  • Is your pet taking any medications, and what medications have they taken in the past 30 days? Certain medications -- such as NSAIDs -- can affect blood clotting.

  • Has your pet been exposed to any poisons, such as rat poison? Many poisons work by disabling the body’s ability to clot blood.

  • Has your pet consumed a mouse, rat, or other animal that could have consumed poison?

  • Has your pet recently been injured, or been in a situation where they may have sustained an injury that you can’t see (such as a fight with another animal)?

  • Has your pet been exposed to foxtails or any other plant matter that could have become lodged in the nose?

  • Have you seen dark black stools or dark vomit? 

  • Has your pet been showing any other symptoms? Sneezing, rubbing their nose, bruising, swollen body parts, bleeding from other parts of the body.

Depending on your pet’s symptoms and condition, your veterinarian may also recommend certain lab tests. The lab tests that your veterinarian recommends will vary from case to case, but most pets with nosebleeds require complete blood work, urinalysis, and clotting tests.

Additional tests may include: radiographs to check for internal bleeding; blood pressure testing; a nasal swab to check for infectious agents; bone marrow analysis; fungal culture; tick disease test; dental inspection; rhinoscopy (viewing the nose with an endoscope); sinus and skull x-rays; and MRI.

What Are The Causes Of A Pet Nosebleed?

The most common causes of epistaxis in pets are injury, infection, and nasal tumors. Other causes include:

Blood clotting disorders:

Diseases that result in low platelet count (platelets are blood cells involved in blood clotting):

Treating a Bloody Nose in Dogs and Cats

Treatment for a pet’s bloody nose will depend on the cause.

In the case of infection, many pets are treated with a course of antibiotics. In the case of an injury or other condition that is causing chronic bleeding, cauterization (burning the affected area to seal off blood vessels) may be necessary in addition to any required surgeries or medication.

If your pet ever gets a bloody nose, don’t panic. Try the above techniques to stop the bleeding and contact your veterinarian if the problem persists or you see other symptoms.

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Bloody Noses at a glance

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  • 1If your pet gets a nosebleed, try to stop the bleeding with an ice pack
  • 2If the bleeding will not stop, see your veterinarian right away
  • 3Most nosebleeds are caused by an injury, infection, or nasal tumor
  • 4Nosebleeds can also result from poisoning, cancer, and a number of diseases