Von Willebrand’s disease is a disorder characterized by prolonged bleeding due to abnormal blood clotting. Dogs with this disease lack normal amounts of a blood protein that is necessary for the blood platelets to stick together during blood clot formation. This blood protein is called von Willebrand’s factor, and the low levels are the result of a hereditary genetic defect.
While more than 25 breeds of dogs have been affected, Scottish Terriers, Doberman Pinschers, and Airedale Terriers are some of the more commonly affected breeds. Some affected dogs also have abnormally low thyroid levels.
In addition to abrasions, lacerations, or other trauma, dogs with von Willebrand’s disease may bleed in response to parasites, viral or bacterial infections, giving birth, surgery, or other physical stress.
Important Points in Treatment
1. There is no “cure” for von Willebrand’s disease. Treatment is symptomatic and depends on the severity of the bleeding episode.