Nosebleeds, also known as epistaxis, are never fun. Seeing your dog’s nose bleed can be distressing and may cause you to feel anxious or worried. Fortunately, most dog nosebleeds are easily treatable.
To ease your worries, let’s go through what you need to know about nosebleeds in dogs, including what causes them and what you can do if your dog’s nose starts to bleed.
Do Dogs Get Nosebleeds?
Yes, dogs get nosebleeds. Dog nosebleeds are relatively common and can affect dogs of any breed and age. That being said, some causes of nosebleeds may be more common in younger than older dogs or certain breeds.
Nosebleeds in dogs can be unilateral (one nostril) or bilateral (both nostrils).
Causes of Dog Nosebleeds
Nosebleeds in dogs have many causes, ranging from minor to serious. Some of these causes include:
Trauma: This is one of the most common causes of dog nosebleeds. This trauma can be due to fights with other dogs or accidentally running into something sharp, like the edge of a door or cabinet.
Infections or tumors: Other common causes of nosebleeds are chronic nasal infections and nasal tumors. Chronic nasal infections can inflame nostrils, leading to bleeding. Similarly, nasal tumors can damage the delicate lining of the nostrils, causing inflammation and bleeding.
Foreign objects: Dogs that love to snoop on the ground—particularly young dogs—are prone to getting foreign objects (like grass or sticks) stuck in their nose.
Autoimmune diseases: In older dogs, autoimmune disease (the immune system attacks itself) can sometimes cause nosebleeds by triggering nasal inflammation.
Coagulation disorders: These disorders cause abnormal clotting and can lead to bleeding from both nostrils. Von Willebrand’s Disease is a genetic clotting disorder that affects certain breeds, such as Dobermans and German Shepherds.
Other causes of nosebleeds in dogs are listed below:
- Liver failure
- Dental disease
- High blood pressure
- Ingestion of rodenticides
- Fungal infection (Aspergillosis)
- Medications (e.g., chemotherapy)
- Ingestion of human nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Tick-borne disease (Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis)
Other Dog Nosebleed Symptoms to Watch For
Blood streaming from your dog’s nose indicates a nosebleed. However, depending on what’s causing the nosebleed, your dog may have some other symptoms.
For example, if your dog has grass stuck in his nose, he will probably be pawing at his nose, trying to get it out. Your dog may also sneeze blood because of the constant irritation in his nostrils.
Dental disease can cause such symptoms as excessive drooling, difficulty eating, or even refusal to eat.
With trauma, you may see bruises or scratches on your dog’s head and around the muzzle.
Nosebleeds often cause dogs to swallow a lot of blood, which can make a dog vomit blood or have bloody stool. If you see bloody vomit or stools with the nosebleed, they are likely due to the nosebleed and are not an actual digestive issue.
Rodenticide poisoning in dogs is life-threatening and needs immediate veterinary attention. Other symptoms of rodenticide poisoning, besides a nosebleed, include difficulty breathing, pale gums, bloody poop, and an enlarged abdomen.
If your dog is showing signs of systemic illness, such as lethargy or reduced appetite, or is having difficulty breathing, take your dog to your veterinarian as soon as possible. In these cases, the nosebleed indicates a more serious disease that needs prompt veterinary care.
Diagnosing the Cause of a Dog Nosebleed
A nosebleed is visually apparent, but identifying the cause of the nosebleed can take time.
A thorough history is the first step in diagnosing a nosebleed. Be prepared to answer numerous questions, such as those listed below, from your veterinarian about your dog’s bleeding nose.
- Is your dog sneezing blood?
- Has your dog ingested rodenticide?
- Does your dog play rough with other pets?
- Have you noticed anything stuck in your dog’s nose?
- Is the bleeding coming from one nostril or both nostrils?
- Is this your dog’s first nosebleed, or does he have a history of nosebleeds?
- What medications is your dog currently taking? Has your dog accidentally ingested any medications?
- What other symptoms have you noticed, such as black or tarry stool, coffee-ground vomit, and bruising?
Your veterinarian will also conduct a physical exam. Here are a few things they will be looking for:
- Gum color
- Eye protrusion
- Nasal swelling
- Facial asymmetry
- Elevated third eyelid
- Bruising, darkened areas of skin
- Foreign object stuck in the nose
- Indications of dental disease (e.g., bad breath, inflamed gums)
According to the history and physical examination findings, your veterinarian will then perform a series of diagnostic tests, including those listed below:
- Routine bloodwork
- Clotting tests
- Fungal cultures
- Blood pressure
- Nasal swab
Some diagnostic tests, including an oral exam and dental and nasal X-rays, require that a dog be anesthetized. If your veterinarian suspects a nasal tumor, your veterinarian will anesthetize your dog to get a tumor biopsy.
How to Treat a Dog Nosebleed
Treatment for a dog nosebleed is according to the underlying cause. Some nosebleeds can be treated at home with simple first aid, while others require veterinary treatment to address the nosebleed’s underlying cause.
If your dog’s nosebleed is minor and doesn’t need veterinary care, you can treat it at home with a few simple steps:
Keep yourself and your dog calm. Your dog probably isn’t bothered by the nosebleed, but you might be. Your dog will feel your anxiety and get worked up, raising his blood pressure and worsening the nosebleed. Stay calm so that your dog will also stay calm.
Apply an ice pack to the nose. The ice pack will constrict the blood vessels to stop the bleeding. For smoosh-faced dogs like Pugs, keep the nostrils uncovered to allow for easy breathing.
Contact your veterinarian. After the bleeding has stopped, contact your vet for further instructions. Do not give your dog any medications unless your vet advises you to do so. Also, do not stick absorbent material, such as a cotton swab, into your dog’s nose; this will cause your dog to sneeze, making the bleeding worse.
Seek veterinary care if your dog has sustained an injury, has something stuck in his nose, has difficulty breathing, or is showing signs of systemic illness.
How to Prevent Nosebleeds in Dogs
Not every cause of nosebleeds in dogs can be prevented. Preventable causes of nosebleeds include ingestion of toxins, bumping into sharp objects, and ingestion of human medication.
Here are a few strategies for avoiding nosebleeds from preventable causes:
- Apply corner cushions to sharp furniture edges.
- Keep rodenticide safely locked away and hidden from your dog.
- Store all of your medications in a locked cabinet, preferably high up.
- Remove anything from your dog’s outdoor walking path, such as grass shavings, that could get stuck in your dog’s nose.
Other causes of nosebleeds in dogs, such as cancer and Von Willebrand’s disease, cannot be prevented.
Nosebleeds in dogs can be unsettling. Stay calm, perform first aid for minor nosebleeds, monitor your dog closely for other symptoms, and take your dog to your veterinarian if your dog does not look well.