Did you know that Von Willebrand disease is the most common inherited bleeding disorder in dogs? If your dog experiences unexplained bleeding, it’s important to get them diagnosed and treated for Von Willebrand disease as soon as possible. In this blog post, we’ll provide an overview of Von Willebrand disease in dogs, including symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options. Keep reading to learn more!
What is Von Willebrand Disease?
Von Willebrand disease (also known as vWD) is a bleeding disorder that is caused by a deficiency of von Willebrand factor (VWF). VWF is a protein that plays an important role in blood clotting. Dogs with Von Willebrand disease may have a mild, moderate, or severe form of the condition, depending on the level of VWF deficiency.
The history of von Willebrand disease dates back to the 1930s, when it was first described by two Finnish doctors. In the early days, von Willebrand disease was thought to be a rare disorder. However, over the years it has been increasingly recognized as a common condition. Today, von Willebrand disease is the most common inherited bleeding disorder in dogs.
Von Willebrand Disease Classifications
There are three main classifications of von Willebrand disease in dogs: type I, type II, and type III.
Type I von Willebrand disease is the most common form of the disorder, accounting for 70-80% of all cases. In dogs with type I von Willebrand disease, there is a decreased level of VWF. This can lead to mild to moderate bleeding.
Type II von Willebrand disease is less common than type I, accounting for 20-30% of all cases. In dogs with type II von Willebrand disease, there is a functional deficiency of VWF. This means that although the level of VWF may be normal, it does not work properly. Type II von Willebrand disease can lead to mild, moderate, or severe bleeding.
Type III von Willebrand disease is the most severe form of the disorder and is very rare, accounting for less than 1% of all cases. In dogs with type III von Willebrand disease, there is a total absence of VWF. This leads to severe bleeding.
Which Breeds are Most Commonly Affected by vWD?
Von Willebrand disease is seen in all breeds of dogs, but some breeds are affected more often than others. Breeds that are most commonly affected by von Willebrand disease include:
- Doberman Pinschers
- German Shepherds
- Golden Retrievers
- Labrador Retrievers
- Scottish Terriers
- Shetland Sheepdogs
- St. Bernards
Von Willebrand’s disease can also be seen in mixed-breed dogs. However, purebred dogs are at a higher risk for developing the condition.
Von Willebrand Disease in Dogs Symptoms
The symptoms of von Willebrand’s disease vary depending on the severity of the condition. Some dogs with von Willebrand disease may never experience any symptoms, while others may have mild to severe bleeding episodes.
The most common symptom of von Willebrand disease is excessive bleeding. This can manifest in a number of different ways, including:
- Blood in the stool
- Blood in the urine
- Prolonged bleeding from wounds or surgery
- Vaginal bleeding in females (e.g., during heat cycles)
Other symptoms that may be seen in dogs with von Willebrand disease include:
- Anemia (low red blood cell count)
If your dog is showing any of these symptoms, it’s important to take them to the vet for an evaluation.
Von Willebrand Disease Diagnosis
The first step in diagnosing von Willebrand disease is taking a complete history and doing a physical examination. Your vet will ask about your dog’s symptoms and medical history. They will also perform a physical examination, looking for signs of bleeding or bruising.
If von Willebrand disease is suspected, your vet will order some tests to confirm the diagnosis. The most common test used to diagnose von Willebrand disease is the von Willebrand factor activity assay (VWF:Ag). This test measures the level of VWF in the blood and can be used to diagnose von Willebrand disease.
Other tests that may be done include the von Willebrand factor antigen assay (VWF:Ag) and DNA test. The VWF:Ag measures the level of VWF in the blood and can be used to diagnose von Willebrand disease. The DNA test looks for mutations in the VWF gene and can be used to confirm a diagnosis of von Willebrand disease.
Von Willebrand Disease Treatment
There is no cure for von Willebrand disease, but there are treatment options available that can help manage the condition. The goal of treatment is to control bleeding episodes and prevent complications such as anemia.
The most common treatment for von Willebrand disease is von Willebrand factor concentrate (VWFC). VWFC is a blood product that contains VWF. It is given intravenously (IV) and works by replacing the missing VWF in the body.
Other treatments that may be used to manage von Willebrand disease include desmopressin, anti-fibrinolytic drugs, and surgery. Desmopressin is a synthetic hormone that can be given as a nasal spray or injection. It helps to increase the level of VWF in the body. Anti-fibrinolytic drugs are medications that help to prevent clot breakdown. They can be given IV, intramuscular (IM), or orally (PO). Surgery may be necessary in some cases to control bleeding.
No matter what treatment is used, it’s important to work closely with your vet to come up with a plan that’s right for your dog. Von Willebrand disease is a lifelong condition, so treatment will need to be continued for the rest of your dog’s life.
As von Willebrand disease is a hereditary condition, affected dogs should not be used for breeding. This will help to prevent the condition from being passed on to future generations of dogs.
Preventing Von Willebrand Disease in Dogs
There is no way to prevent vWD in dogs. If you are thinking about breeding your dog, then it’s important to have them tested for von Willebrand disease first. This will help to prevent the condition from being passed on to their offspring.
Von Willebrand disease is a serious condition that can cause excessive bleeding in dogs. If your dog is showing any signs of von Willebrand disease, it’s important to take them to the vet for an evaluation. There is no cure for von Willebrand disease, but there are treatment options available that can help manage the condition.