Your first reaction -- other than panic -- when you see blood gushing out of your pet's nose is a desire to stop his nosebleed. Canine nosebleeds result from various causes. If you have an idea why it's bleeding, that can help you determine the seriousness of the situation. Formally known as epistaxis, the majority of canine nosebleeds occur because of trauma, a respiratory tract infection or a foreign body in the nasal passage. Even if the bleeding stops after home treatment, call your vet as soon as possible.
Blood pouring out of your dog's nose is a pretty disturbing sight, but remember your pet takes his cue from you. Stay calm yourself and keep him calm. If he gets excited and his blood pressure rises, the bleeding becomes more profuse. Note whether the blood comes out of one or both nostrils -- it's an important distinction to tell the vet.
Put an ice pack or cold compress on your dog's nose, using gentle but firm pressure. This helps constrict the blood vessels and help stop the bleeding. If the bleeding doesn't stop or significantly slow within several minutes, or if it gets worse, take your dog to your vet or an emergency veterinarian. If the bleeding lessens but your dog is having breathing issues, he always needs an immediate trip to the vet.
Your vet may sedate your pet to calm him down. She may apply epinephrine to his nose to restrict bleeding. If the bleeding is very heavy, your vet will anesthetize your dog and pack his nose with gauze. This controls bleeding via direct pressure.
To determine the reason for the nosebleed, your vet may need to anesthetize your dog to thoroughly examine his nose, mouth and throat. She'll also take blood for testing and conduct a urinalysis and possibly perform X-rays. She'll also ask if you've noticed anything unusual about your dog recently, including:
- Voiding tarry, dark stools
- Nasal or facial swelling
- Vomit with the appearance of coffee grounds
- Rubbing at the eyes or sneezing
- Skin darkening.
Tell your vet about any medications or supplements your dog receives, and any potential trauma he may have experienced. Let her know if you've found any ticks on your pet, or if he's exposed to any dead -- possibly poisoned -- wildlife or if he had any access to rodenticides. Along with test results, that information can help pinpoint the cause of the nosebleed, along with further diagnostics and treatment.
Your dog probably swallowed a fair amount of blood while his nose was bleeding. Expect his feces in the next day or so will turn dark and tarry. That's the result of blood in the intestines, and normal under the circumstances.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.