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What is Bleeding Under the Skin?

Bleeding under the skin is typically the result of injury; however, it could also indicate certain bleeding disorders and cancers. Immune-mediated thrombocytopenia, an autoimmune disorder in which the dog’s body attacks its own platelets, is more likely to occur in female dogs and in the German Shepherd, Greyhound, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Old English Sheepdog breeds. Canine thrombopathia is a congenital defect in platelet functioning and has only been found in a few breeds such as the Spitz and Basset Hound. Lymphoma is a cancer of the immune system and is more commonly found in the Boxer, Golden Retriever, Saint Bernard, Basset Hound, Airedale Terrier, Bulldog and Scottish Terrier breeds. Von Willebrand’s disease is a deficiency in the clotting protein known as von Willebrand’s factor and most commonly occurs in the Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Miniature Schnauzer, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Standard Manchester Terrier, Standard Poodle, Scottish Terrier, Basset Hound and Shetland Sheepdog breeds.

Hemorrhaging under the skin occurs as the result of burst blood vessels and may manifest in three ways: as bruising, which appears discoloration of the skin; as petechiae, which appear as small red of purple spots on the skin; and as ecchymoses, which appears as purplish patch(es) on the dog’s mucous membranes or under the skin.


While humans can bruise after bumping themselves, this shouldn't occur in dogs due to the protection offered by their fur and thicker skin. However, significant trauma can lead to bruising.

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Bleeding Under the Skin Average Cost

From 293 quotes ranging from $250 - $10,000

Average Cost

$400

Symptoms of Bleeding Under the Skin in Dogs

The only symptoms of bleeding under the skin are bruising, petechial, and ecchymosis. Other than the fact that ecchymosis may appear on mucous membranes, it can be difficult to distinguish from bleeding. If your dog’s bleeding under the skin is caused by the presence of an underlying disorder, she may exhibit additional symptoms, discussed at length below in the Causes section.

Types

The two types of bleeding under the skin are bleeding as a result of injury, and bleeding under the skin that is facilitated by an underlying disorder.

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Causes of Bleeding Under the Skin in Dogs

The most common cause for bleeding under the skin of dogs is simply bodily injury or trauma. However, over-sensitive, excessive or chronic bleeding under the skin may be caused or exacerbated by one of the following disorders:

  • Immune-mediated thrombocytopenia

    , an autoimmune disorder that causes a dog’s platelets to be destroyed by an overactive immune reaction. Additional symptoms that your dog may exhibit include lethargy, loss of appetite, weakness, nosebleeds, pale mucous membranes, bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract, blood in the urine, vomiting blood, coughing, and ocular hemorrhages.

  • Infectious thrombocytopenia

    , an immune reaction that causes a dog’s immune system to destroy its own platelets may be caused by ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, babesiosis, leptospirosis, leishmaniasis, heartworm, cytauxzoonosis, parvovirus, herpesvirus or blood poisoning. Additional symptoms your dog may exhibit include nosebleeds, bloody urine or feces, and retinal bleeding.

  • Canine thrombopathia

    is a platelet-functioning disorder that negatively affects the ability of the dog’s blood to clot. Additional symptoms that your dog may exhibit include nosebleed and bleeding gums.

  • Lymphoma

    is a cancer of the lymphocyte cells, which is a subset of white blood cell integral to your dog’s immune system. Additional symptoms your dog may exhibit are anorexia (or lack of appetite), weight loss, lethargy, and weakness.

  • Acquired Clotting Protein Disorders

    inhibit the body’s ability to clot blood due to liver disease or liver toxicity, most commonly from rodenticide-caused Vitamin K poisoning.

  • Estrogen Toxicity

    may cause bone marrow suppression leading to low red or white blood cell or platelet count.

  • Chemotherapy

    may cause bone marrow suppression leading to low red or white blood cell or platelet count.

  • Von Willebrand’s Disease

    is a clotting disorder caused by a deficiency in the clotting protein known as von Willebrand’s factor. Additional symptoms include spontaneous hemorrhaging from the nose, vagina, urinary tract or oral mucous membranes.

  • Drug reactions

    that affect platelet functioning: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin.

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Diagnosis of Bleeding Under the Skin in Dogs

Diagnosis depends upon thorough reporting of the extent and onset of your dog’s symptoms and any injury or other possible causes. Description of the physical trauma your dog may have suffered will help the veterinarian to determine if the bleeding under your dog’s skin is appropriate or if it may be exacerbated by an underlying disorder. Reporting of medical history and possible ingestion of toxic substances will also be integral to diagnosis. The veterinarian will immediately start the visit by performing a thorough physical examination to search for additional instances of bruising, petechiae, ecchymoses and/or lesions.

The veterinarian will sample your dog’s blood and perform a complete blood count, measuring red and white blood cell and platelet counts, which may indicate that your dog has lymphoma (if white blood cells are abnormally low) or thrombocytopenia (if platelets are abnormally low). Additionally, a clotting test will be performed, which could reveal thrombopathia, von Willebrand’s disease, or acquired protein clotting disorder. This test will also determine if your dog needs to be treated for anemia due to blood loss. A bone marrow sample may be taken if estrogen toxicity is suspected. Bone marrow testing can also indicate if the cause of bleeding under the skin is chemotherapy; however, this is only possible if your dog is undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

A chemical blood profile will be examined and may indicate underlying liver or kidney disease. A urinalysis will be examined for elevated proteins in the urine and blood in the urine, which could point to immune-mediated thrombocytopenia or lymphoma.

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Treatment of Bleeding Under the Skin in Dogs

For primary bleeding under the skin, no treatment is necessary, as bleeding will stop on its own and your dog’s skin will return to normal. However, for bleeding under the skin as a symptom of an underlying disorder, treatment of the underlying disorder will be necessary. Specific treatments will depend upon the specific cause. In some cases, your dog may need to be hospitalized and stabilized through IV fluids for hydration and proper electrolyte balance and possible whole blood or packed red blood cell transfusion in the case of anemia or platelet transfusion in the case of a severe platelet deficiency.

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Recovery of Bleeding Under the Skin in Dogs

It is important to follow the veterinarian’s instructions for follow-up appointments and at-home care. Minimize your dog’s activity during recovery in order to prevent further injury.

In many cases, it's been historically proven that treatment of the underlying cause will lead to a full recovery; however, if your dog has a congenital bleeding disorder, treatment will be long term management. For dogs with congenital bleeding disorders, excessive bleeding will need to be managed for the rest of their lives. During a bleeding episode, restrict movement in order to minimize bleeding. Dogs with congenital bleeding disorders who exhibit bleeding gums as a symptom should be fed only soft food and not given hard chew toys or bones.

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Cost of Bleeding Under the Skin in Dogs

The veterinarian will most likely need to hospitalize your dog and provide him with intravenous fluids ($67 to $85). However, your dog may also require overnight observation ($40 to $120 per night). The veterinarian may diagnosis the bleeding under your dog’s skin as a symptom of anemia. Anemia is a condition of the blood where there is a red blood cell deficiency, resulting in thinner blood and poor health. The veterinarian may treat this by providing your dog with a whole blood transfusion ($500 per unit). Another possibility is that the bleeding is a symptom of a platelet deficiency. Platelets clump together to stop bleeding. If there aren’t enough platelets in the blood then clots cannot be formed. In this case, a platelet transfusion ($150 to $450 per unit) can help resolve the issue.

Keep in mind that these disorders tend to have an underlying cause and successful treatment of this may come with significant expense, particularly in the case of a cancer.

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Bleeding Under the Skin Average Cost

From 293 quotes ranging from $250 - $10,000

Average Cost

$400

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Written by hannah hollinger

Veterinary reviewed by: Linda S.

Published: 11/10/2015, edited: 04/15/2021

Bleeding Under the Skin Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Yorkshire Terrier

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Five Months

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My puppy had inguinal hernia surgery along with being neutered 3 days ago. I’ve been monitoring his wounds and he has small red patches in his groin on both sides. His veins are also very visible and blue. Is this normal or something I should be concerned about? He’s eating and drinking just fine and no signs of distress.

Jan. 27, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for this clear photo. The level of bruising and redness is normal but the wound looks a little swollen and if there is any ooze or discharge this is a concern. If not using already, put an Elizabethan collar on your dog so they cannot get to the wound and gently bathe it with cotton wool and salt water daily. If not on them, ask your vet if anti inflammatories and antibiotics should be prescribed.

Jan. 27, 2021

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Peekapoo

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Thirteen Years

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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Bleeding matted skin under her skin and she does not poop as often as she used to. Every other day - 2 days

Jan. 5, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello Your pup could have a small area of dermatitis that could be caused by allergies or fleas. A decrease in defecation could be related to constipation from her diet. I recommend that you take her to a veterinarian for an exam. She may need those lesions clipped of fur and cleaned. They may also discuss her diet. Good luck.

Jan. 5, 2021

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Labrabull

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Eleven Months

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Unknown severity

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Bleeding

So I adopted my pup back in November and he was fine for a while and then one day he just started bleeding and two spots on top of his head, on both ears just small parts right by the end of the ear, and two spots on his neck. They do stop bleeding I clean as best I could every time they would occur and eventually some of the spots stopped bleeding but he still bleeds and I'm really worried about him. Some people were saying then he might just have dry skin and that it might be from changing his food to a more expensive one. He doesn't seem phased by it at all of then shake his head and itch.

Jan. 4, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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Hello Thank you for the picture. It looks like your pup has a hot spot, which is an area of infected skin. They can be secondary to allergies. I recommend that you take your pet to a veterinarian for an exam. The doctor might clip the fur and clean the area. Good luck.

Jan. 4, 2021

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Jack Russell Terrier

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Five Years

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My dog has bruising/blood marks under her arm pits

Dec. 23, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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2 Recommendations

Thank you for the photos. Bruising is a red flag in dogs. Due to their thick skin and fur it is rare for them to get bruises except for e.g. After a surgery or blood draw. She does need to be seen by a vet for investigation.

Dec. 23, 2020

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sh

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Four Months

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Head Purple

On top of her head a while back we put a bow and when I took it off it left her skin swollen as if the rubber band picked up her skin as says have passed I notice a purple like ring in that same area. Is this dangerous?

Oct. 15, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. There is a word for that condition, actually - traction alopecia. It is not common for the circulation to be compromised to those areas. If you notice that it is not improving over the next few days, it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian, and obviously no bows for a while.

Oct. 15, 2020

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ENU

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cross brred

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2 Years

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Moderate severity

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None

My daughters female dog cross breed (we believe a cross between a Boston and Fox terrier, or maybe a whippet.. Is a 2 to 2 1/2 year rescue that she has had for about 9 months.. In the last week or 2 she has started bleeding under the skin in two places, low on her neck, and a little on her skull. There are no other signs of injury. She is not scratching there, and there is no to the touch feeling of a scab or bruise. She is with at least on or more of our dogs about 50% of the time, but she is the aggressor and there are no battles going on.

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Dakota

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Alaskan Malamute

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5 Years

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

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Lethargic Not Eating Red Skin

Dakota was a 5 year 8 month old full breed Alaskan Malamute. He was an awesome furbaby. Just last week we lost him. He was fine Wednesday evening, acting normal and having no symptoms. On Thursday morning he was lethargic and didn't want to eat. We noticed that his belly was red when it is usually pink. By Thursday evening, he was still lethargic so we took him to the vet hospital. They ran some blood work and it all came back within normal range. Liver and kidney function had a slight elevation but nothing to worry about. We thought he might be having an allergic reaction to something so the vet treated him as if that were the case. The vet noticed that the red skin was throughout his body, in his ears and eyes as well. Sadly, Dakota had a cardiac event and passed away just 7 hours after starting treatment for allergic reaction. We have no idea what was going on. The vet didn't know either. Any input would be appreciated as to what might have happened to our furbaby.

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Zeus

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Pit bull

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4 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

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Bruising, Bites, Dog Fight

So I was out of town and so was my fiancée.. we have two dogs Zeus, a 4 yr old pitt and Aries a 1 yr old rott/ black lab mix. They are usually very good with each other and very playful, both never showed any signs of aggression towards one another. Well they got into it pretty bad last night and I got a phone call from my parents that were checking in on them throughout the day. I came home to find both pretty badly injured. One has a bite on his ear and left leg and the other has a few bites on his chin and scratches on his face. Now my pit bull seems worse off, he has purple bruises on his chest and some loose skin with it too.. I don’t know what to do... I am taking them to the vet first thing in the morning when my fiancé comes home. They seem to be ok with each other but I’m keeping a close eye on both... just to make sure no other issues arise. I should also mention that we did have a third dog staying with us for the past week so I don’t know if that was why the fight started in the first place or something else entirely.

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Wally

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Basset Artesien Normand

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12 Months

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Heavy Breathing, Swollen Throat

My 1 year old basset got attacked by our 7 month old great dane puppy. She held on to him shaking him for about 10 seconds. All seemed fine but now 2 hours later his neck and throat is terribly swollen and sensitive. I am really scared yhat he got hurt internally and that there might be bleeding. He is eating and drinking but breathing is heavier than normal. What can I do to help him till I get him to the vet in the morning.

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Sugar

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maltipom

dog-age-icon

10 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Coughing
Enlarged Liver
Collapsing Trachea
Bleeding Under Skin
Bruise,

Please help? Two years ago my dog Sugar was diagnosed with collapsing trachea. It wasn't very serious at the time and we did not do surgery. Two years later Sugar needed dental care. She was put under to do her dental. A couple teeth were removed and there was a small pocket of infection under the teeth. She seemed fine though on the way home I had to suddenly stop the car and she did hit into the dashboard a bit, though it was not hard, and she seemed okay. A few days later I noticed a dark bruise about two fingers wide along her throat and chest. Over the weekend it grew to cover her whole chest and was very dark. I took her to the vet. The thought it was from the blood draw in her neck and dismissed any concerns. A day later Sugar began coughing constantly, a honking, choking sound, that was almost constant. I took her to the vet first thing in the morning. An xray showed that her collapsing trachea was much worse and that her heart and liver were enlarged. She was up on an doxycycline and hydrocodne, the hydrocodone to help open her airway. The next several days were awful. Her abdomen became very distended from the enlarged liver and I took her in for an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed and enlarged artery and that the blood was not draining quickly enough from her liver, which was causing it to enlarge. The vet thought something was putting pressure on her left ventricle of her heart which was causing the liver enlargement. He was stumped about what it could be. More blood work was done and he was going to consult with a cardiologist about what this could be. A couple more days Sugar's cough was under control. A couple more days and her abdominal swelling was gone. I no longer have to even give her the hydrocodone for her coughing as she barely does it now. However... just when I think we are all done with the nightmare and Sugar is well and completely better, I noticed the dark large bruising forming on her chest again this morning. It's Sunday so I cannot call my vet. I am so terrified that this whole chain of events is about to unfold again. The bruising is very obviously not due to the blood draw since it randomly came back again. I need to know what's happening with my dog. I feel like something regarding the dental, or her bumping the dashboard when I stopped my car, may have triggered all of this as she was just fine before. I am very afraid and don't want the coughing to start all over again, and the liver swelling. I am taking her in again first thing Sunday morning but I wish it hadn't happened on a Sunday because I'm so upset and stressed just waiting (I wish the bruise had not come back at all). Does anyone have any clue as to what can be happening?

Bleeding Under the Skin Average Cost

From 293 quotes ranging from $250 - $10,000

Average Cost

$400

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