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The essentials

  • Nosebleeds in dogs don’t happen at random — They’re a side effect of either physical trauma, toxins, or an underlying health issue.
  • Don’t insert anything into your dog’s nose to stop the bleeding — It’s unsafe and likely very uncomfortable!
  • Treatment depends on the cause — The fastest way to treat a nosebleed is to figure out why it’s happening.

Known as epistaxis, nosebleeds are an uncommon disorder in dogs and an alarming sight for pet parents! They can range from just a few drops of blood to severe blood loss, depending on the cause, and they need medical attention right away. If your dog’s nose is currently bleeding, follow these first-aid tips:

Causes of dog nose bleeds

A lot of things. Which is why it can be hard to pinpoint the root issue when a nosebleed comes on fast — and seemingly at random. No bloody nose is a random occurrence, though. Here’s our list of general causes, from the most common to the least:

  • Muzzle/head trauma. Your dog’s nose bleeds easily to begin with, which is why trauma can be one of the biggest culprits in acute epistaxis. Our pups love to work hard and play harder, and sometimes accidents happen, regardless if they’re more prone to clumsiness than others.
  • Nasal tumors. Benign or malignant, nasal tumors are a serious matter, and one study found that out of 176 dog nosebleed cases, 30% had nasal tumors. So if your pup has recurrent bloody noses, especially paired with other symptoms like noisy breathing, weight loss, decreased appetite, and lethargy, it’s time to see your vet.
  • Foreign object in the nose. Every curious pup loves to use their superpowered nose. The only downside is sometimes foreign bodies can get stuck inside as a result of their curiosity. Whether they accidentally inhale something behind the couch or have an unfortunate run-in with foxtail grass , a foreign object lodged inside the nose will inevitably cause nosebleeds and infections.
  • Blood clot disorders. Like those caused by Canine von Willebrand disease , hemophilia, liver disease, and anemia.
  • Caval syndrome. Dogs suffering from a heartworm infestation can sometimes develop caval syndrome, causing nose bleeds.
  • Rodenticides. Most rat poisons are designed to stop an animal’s blood from clotting . They interfere with the production of the necessary vitamins used to keep a dog’s blood within the vessels. This leads to internal bleeding that can sometimes be visible in the nose and mouth.
  • Tick-borne diseases . The ones most likely to cause nosebleeds are Rocky Mountain spotted fever, babesiosis, and ehrlichiosis. The good news is ticks are easily preventable.
  • Aspergillosis . An infection caused by inhaling the Aspergillus fungus. It’s usually found on different types of decaying vegetation like dead leaves and compost piles. Nosebleeds result because most infections are localized in the nose and sinuses (though they can spread to the lungs too). Immunocompromised dogs are at the highest risk of infection.
  • A low platelet count. Generally speaking, a low platelet count (thrombocytopenia ) interferes with a dog’s ability to control bleeding. Platelets are the tiny blood cells responsible for clotting (coagulation), repairing blood vessels, and preventing blood loss. The condition is caused by various types of cancer, immune-mediated disease, bone marrow disease, or tick disease.
  • Abscessed tooth. Deep root abscess of a tooth can erode through the nasal bone and disrupt a nosebleed vessel, causing epistaxis.

Diagnosing dog nose bleeds and their cause

First, your vet will need your dog’s current health history. Make sure to have that on hand, and never assume your vet already knows all the medications your pet is taking. Next, they’ll ask you questions about your dog, anything they may have gotten into, previous injuries or illnesses, etc.

Once they have a broader understanding of the situation, your vet may recommend a full examination of your furry friend. They’ll decide if any additional tests are needed to determine blood loss, blood clot disorders, fungal infections, cancer, ticks, high blood pressure, and other potential causes. Here are some exams that might be done:

Complete blood count (CBC). Your veterinarian may draw blood to look at CBC or complete blood count. CBC labs allow a closer look into red and white blood cells as well as platelets. A small blood sample is collected and then analyzed in a machine, as well as under a microscope, to get a better insight into what’s going on in the blood.

Coagulation profile. A coagulation profile is a set of blood tests that analyze the process of substances in the blood coming together to create a blood clot when necessary (like in the case of an injury). Coagulation profiles help the vet see which stage in the clotting process is malfunctioning to help make a diagnosis.

X-rays and imaging tests. A series of X-rays or images may be necessary to rule out tumors or any foreign object causing bleeding. Your veterinarian may also want to look for any signs of internal bleeding.

Nasal swab. Like humans, dogs can be subject to viral and bacterial infections. If your dog shows any signs of a nasal cavity infection, your vet may opt for a nasal swab to send to the lab for culture.

Biopsy. In some cases, a nasal mucosal biopsy may be helpful. In this instance, a numbing spray is used, and a small piece of tissue is taken from the inner nasal cavity. The tissue can be examined and tested for any disease or abnormality.

Staying calm when your dog’s nose is bleeding can be easier said than done for both the dog and the owner. Even in the veterinarian’s office, most patients won’t tolerate nasal exams. Usually, general anesthesia or heavy sedation is required to “scope” the nose. Then samples can be taken for biopsy, culture, or cytology or removal of polyps or foreign bodies or x-rays without the animal moving around.

Bruce Armstrong, DVM

Treatment for epistaxis in dogs

Most dog owners will find themselves puzzled, wondering what to do when their dog’s nose bleeds. Treating your dog’s nose bleed will depend on what’s causing it. A mild bloody nose from an injury, for example, usually just takes rest and time to heal. However, other causes outlined above may need more extensive, ongoing treatment. Diseases caused by ticks, for example, may need antibiotics, while a fungal infection will require antifungals. Immune-mediated diseases may require immunosuppressive medication, and something like cancer might be treated with surgery, chemo, or radiation.

Stabilize the dog — Before any treatment can be determined, the first step is stabilizing your pup. The top priority will be to stop the bleeding and get your dog calm and able to be examined.

Treat the underlying cause — After performing any necessary tests, your veterinarian will determine what’s causing the epistaxis and develop a treatment plan that goes beyond stopping the bleeding.

Use first aid techniques — At times, first aid techniques may be used to help alleviate the bleeding while treatment kicks in. The best route is to use ice packs to constrict blood vessels in the nose. Refrain from packing your dog’s nose with cotton or tissue, as it can cause sneezing (which can worsen the nosebleed).

Consider medications and supplements as needed — Depending on the root cause, severity, and frequency of nosebleeds, your veterinarian may suggest some supplements or prescribe medications to help.

At home care for dogs with nose bleeds

1. Stay calm

If you’re wondering how to treat a dog nose bleed at home, the best thing you can do is stay calm. Adrenaline can elevate your dog’s blood pressure and increase the bleeding . And since dogs pick up on cues from their owners — especially in stressful situations — try to remain calm and collected. It’ll keep your pup mellow while you help them.

2. Try to prevent them from tilting their head back

Your dog will likely ingest some blood with a nosebleed, but it’s important to let the blood flow out of the nose so your dog doesn’t swallow it. Ingestion can lead to black, tarry stools and vomiting blood clots.

3. Study the rest of their face

Does your dog have any new deformities or abnormalities? Any inflammation on or around the nose, third eyelid elevation , or one eye protruding more than the other? Identifying trauma or symptoms is one of the most important ways to avoid aggravating the condition while treating it. It’s also key to understanding what else could be happening with your pup, so if you notice anything’s off, contact your vet immediately.

👉 Remember to look for any unusual bruising or unexplained swelling that could be bleeding underneath the skin.

4. Check their mouth and gums

It’s a fast way to gauge if there’s been significant blood loss. Just make sure there’s no other physical trauma to your pup’s mouth, jaw, or snout before checking to avoid further injuries. Dark to black discharge accumulated around the base of the teeth and gums can be an indicator of low platelets and mouth bleeding even if there’s no obvious blood dripping from the gums or mouth.

🚨 If your dog’s gums are white, you need to take them to an emergency hospital immediately.

5. Apply an ice pack to the bridge of your pup’s nose

If your dog is comfortable with it, apply an ice pack wrapped in something soft (like a dish towel or paper towels) to the bridge of their nose. Blood vessels in the nasal passages will constrict in the cold and help slow blood flow.

👉 Avoid obstructing both of your pup’s nostrils to ensure easier breathing. 

6. Don’t insert absorbent materials or cotton balls into their nose

Sticking anything up your dog’s nose is uncomfortable and unnecessary, and it runs the risk of getting stuck up there. Instead, gently dab or wipe the blood freely running from their nose with a material that won’t irritate their snout.

7. Don’t give your dog any medicine unless instructed by your vet

It might be tempting to give your dog something in the moment to help with bleeding or discomfort, but it’s better to wait until you’ve spoken with your vet. Some medications (like NSAIDs) reduce the blood’s ability to clot , which can prolong or worsen a nosebleed.

👉  Despite very few exceptions , human medicines and dosages aren’t designed for dog consumption. Some can cause serious harm if ingested. 

8. Call your dog’s vet to let them know what’s going on

There’s no such thing as overexplaining, either! Since nosebleeds can have such a wide variety of causes, you’ll help your vet out tremendously by providing exact details of what your dog was doing before and after the nosebleed started.

🚨 If none of these methods help ease your dog’s nosebleed, or your dog is having trouble breathing, you need to take them to the vet or a local emergency clinic right away.

When to see a vet

It can be alarming to see your dog’s nose bleeding. Still, not every occurrence is an emergency. First, assess the situation. If there’s an obvious cause, like a hit to the nose, you may be able to treat your dog at home with ice and rest. If the nosebleed appears random, it’s a good idea to assess any risk factors and possibilities with your veterinarian. When nosebleeds are unexplained or recurring, dog owners must consider long-term health implications if epistaxis goes untreated.

Nose bleeds in dogs aren’t common. However, accidents can and do happen. Because injury is one of the most common reasons why dogs get nose bleeds, it’s important to supervise your pup during playtime. And if you’re seeing blood (even a little), it’s important to get your doggie veterinarian care ASAP.

Frequently asked questions

Is a nosebleed in a dog an emergency?

Nosebleeds are rare, but they’re always concerning because they can be caused by a variety of different health issues. If your dog has one, it’s very important to consult with your vet to determine why it’s happening and get immediate treatment.

Are dog nosebleeds serious?

They can be, depending on why they’re happening. The cause of the nosebleed tends to be more serious than the nosebleed itself.

How can I treat my dog’s nose bleed at home?

Stay calm, apply an ice pack wrapped in a soft towel to the bridge of the nose, and never stick anything absorbent into their nostrils.

Is it normal for dogs to have nosebleeds?

No, it’s not. Especially if they’re recurrent. Accidents can happen that cause trauma to the nose every now and then, but just like humans, a bloody nose should be treated and diagnosed with care.

How long does a dog nosebleed last?

Nosebleeds, particularly those caused by mild trauma, shouldn’t last long and will resolve without lasting consequences. That said, if you can’t get a nosebleed to stop within a few minutes, bring your dog to the nearest vet hospital immediately.

What are some dog nosebleeds?

Dog nosebleed symptoms can be brought on by many things. Some causes could be infection, trauma, foreign objects, or disease. There are even some dog nose bleeds due to heat.