Why is there Bleeding Under the Skin of your Dog?


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Image Source: Pixabay.comUnderstanding subcutaneous bleeding

Any kind of bleeding is a cause for concern, especially in your pets. Unfortunately, subcutaneous bleeding or bleeding under the skin is a lot more common that dog owners would imagine. The most common cause for this condition is trauma or injury. Dogs are very exuberant creatures, which means that they can get hurt sometimes while playing.Besides injury, some bleeding disorders can cause this condition as well. The most common is an autoimmune disorder known as thrombocytopenia. This immune-mediated disorder causes the dogโ€™s body to target its own platelets. When the blood vessels under the skin burst, the bleeding appears in three types โ€“ ecchymoses, petechiae, and bruising. Ecchymoses appears as purple or blue patches under the skin or on the mucous membrane. Petechiae is characterized by small purple or red spots on the dogโ€™s skin. Bruising is typically seen as discolored patches.

What are the causes of bleeding under the skin?

Trauma or injury is the most common cause for subcutaneous bleeding in dogs. If you notice that your dog suffers from chronic or excessive bleeding under the skin, the reason could be one of the conditions listed below.

Immune-mediated thrombocytopenia:

This disorder causes the platelets in your dogโ€™s system to be destroyed due to his immune system going into overdrive. Other symptoms include nosebleeds, weakness, lack of appetite, lethargy, and gastrointestinal bleeding.

Canine thrombopathia:

This disorder prevents your dogโ€™s blood from clotting by affecting his platelets. Bleeding gums and nosebleeds are additional symptoms.

Infectious thrombocytopenia:

Another platelet-destroying immune reaction that is caused by various diseases or virulent microorganisms such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, parvovirus, heartworm, leishmaniasis, or herpesvirus.


This is a type of cancer that affects lymphocyte cells, causing your dogโ€™s immune system to weaken. Additional symptoms include loss of appetite, lethargy, weakness, and weight loss.

Clotting disorders:

These conditions are brought on by liver toxicity or liver disease, most commonly caused due to consumption of poisonous products like rodenticides.

Drug reactions:

Some dogs could have serious negative reactions to certain medications like aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. This can affect the dogโ€™s normal platelet functioning.

How can you treat bleeding under the skin in dogs?

If your dogโ€™s platelet system is functioning well, there is no treatment required as the bleeding will stop by itself. If there is an underlying disorder, you will have to take your canine friend to the veterinarian for tests, diagnosis, and appropriate treatment. Your dog may need to stay in the hospital where he will be given intravenous hydration, electrolytes, blood transfusion, and even chemotherapy if necessary.If you notice bleeding under your dogโ€™s skin, take him to the vet as soon as possible so you can rule out serious underlying causes.

Yeast Dermatitis In Dogs

Youโ€™ve probably heard of yeast before, most likely in the context of baking. However this spore-like form of fungi can also cause skin infections, and yeast skin infections -- also known as Malassezia dermatitis or yeast dermatitis -- are quite common in dogs.

Causes of Yeast Dermatitis in Dogs

Yeast exist peacefully in small numbers on a dogโ€™s skin, in their ears, and in their anal glands. They are kept in check by a dogโ€™s immune system and usually do not cause problems. However, when conditions on the skin change and the yeast is able to multiply and spread, it can result in a yeast infection.

So what allows for yeast proliferation?

The most common situation is an increase in the amount of oils produced by the skin, often as a result of an allergic reaction. Another common cause of increased oil production is seborrhea, a skin disorder that causes the skin to produce an excess amount of sebum. In these situations, yeast infections may be recurring until the underlying condition is addressed.

Dogs with immune deficiencies (often caused by a secondary disease) may have a difficult time fighting off yeast infections, and this is also the case for dogs that take immunosuppressive drugs. These situations can result in chronic yeast infections

Yeast dermatitis is not contagious and cannot be passed from dog to dog. However, there are certain dog breeds that are genetically predisposed to developing yeast infections, and they include: the Australian TerrierBasset HoundChihuahuaCocker SpanielDachshundLhasa ApsoMaltesePoodleShetland SheepdogSilky Terrier, and the West Highland White Terrier.

Symptoms of Yeast Dermatitis in Dogs

Yeast infections usually begin with itching or a rash, but over time you will see the following:

  • Thickened skin (often referred to as โ€œelephant skinโ€)
  • Flaky, crusty skin
  • Extreme itching
  • Foul, musty odor
  • Hyperpigmentation (dark skin)
  • Recurring ear infections

Diagnosing Yeast Dermatitis in Dogs

If your dog is exhibiting any of the above symptoms, contact your veterinarian. They will examine your dog and carry out certain tests to confirm yeast overgrowth. Common testing methods include:

  • Cotton swab sample: a moist cotton swab is rubbed onto the skin to collect yeast organisms
  • Impression smear: a microscope slide is pressed onto the skin to collect organisms
  • Scotch tape sampling: a piece of tape is pressed onto the skin to collect organisms
  • Skin scraping: the skin is scraped with a blade to collect organisms
  • Skin biopsy: a piece of skin is removed and tested for yeast organisms

Treatment for Yeast Dermatitis in Dogs

Once your dog is diagnosed with yeast dermatitis, your veterinarian will have to decide whether to treat it topically, orally, or both topically and orally. Generally, dogs with localized spots of dermatitis receive topical treatment while dogs with larger infected areas receive oral medication. Oral and topical treatments are sometimes combined in recurrent cases.

Commonly prescribed topical treatments include shampoos and spot-on solutions. Certain shampoos, such as Chlorhexiderm and Malaseb, actually kill yeast, while others -- such as Pyoben -- work to remove skin oils that contribute to yeast proliferation. Animax ointment for dogs and cats may also be prescribed to treat certain types of infections. Always be sure to ask your veterinarian before using any new shampoo on a dog with irritated skin.

Popular spot-on treatments for dogs with only small areas of infection include acetic acid wipes and mixtures of water and vinegar. If a water and vinegar mixture is used, the dog may develop a vinegar smell (though many people prefer this to the musty odor caused by the yeast infection!)

The most commonly prescribed oral medication for yeast dermatitis is the antifungal Ketoconazole. Another antifungal, Itraconazole, may be used when an infection is persistent. These medications are effective but require long-term dosing (often several months) and because there are potential side effects, the dog must be monitored closely.

Whether your dog ends up with an oral or topical treatment, one of the most important factors in combating yeast dermatitis is identifying and treating the underlying cause. If a dog has seborrhea, for example, that condition should be treated to keep yeast dermatitis from returning.

Prognosis for Dogs With Yeast Dermatitis

The prognosis for yeast dermatitis is generally good, and most dogs recover fully in a matter of months. However, dogs with underlying conditions such as allergies may require regular, ongoing treatment to prevent recurring infections.

More on Skin Infections

Common Dog Skin Issues
Causes Of Pyoderma In Dogs And Cats
7 Common Causes Of Dog Dry Skin

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