What is Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation?
There are several forms of DIC, which include peracute, acute, and chronic. Peracute is a mild form of DIC that involves an abnormal dysfunction of one or more vital organs (heart, lungs, kidneys) and mild to moderate clotting increase. Acute DIC is life-threatening and includes both clotting and hemorrhaging that is thought to be the advanced stage of peracute DIC. This form is a fast-moving condition that can be fatal quickly because of shock and hypotension. Chronic DIC is more difficult to diagnose, but is usually found during a veterinary examination for another illness. This form of DIC is usually a result of a serious chronic illness such as cancer. DIC may be hard to diagnose, as previously mentioned, and is often found during an examination for the primary illness or injury. However, it is a very dangerous ailment that can be lethal if you do not see a veterinarian right away.
Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) is a life threatening bleeding disorder that can result in uncontrolled bleeding and organ failure, which can lead to death. The platelets, proteins, and other elements in your pet’s bloodstream all have special roles in clotting the blood, and if any one of them is unable to do its job, the blood will not clot properly. DIC is a secondary disease caused by one of many different conditions, such as serious injuries or burns, heat stroke, or some kind of parasite, virus, or bacterial disease. The symptoms of the primary illness can make diagnosing either of the ailments difficult so it is important to see a veterinary professional if your dog has been behaving abnormally or seems more tired than usual. With DIC, getting help for your pet right away is essential to successful recovery.
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Symptoms of Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation in Dogs
Some of the most common signs of DIC are:
- Excessive sleepiness
- Tiny purple or red spots from bleeding into the skin
- Bruising all over the body with no known cause
- Pale gums and other mucous membranes
- Jaundice (yellowing of skin
- Bloody urine or stool
- Vomiting blood
- Bloody nose
- Rapid heart rate and respirations
- Swelling in abdomen from blood leaking into abdominal cavity
Causes of Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation in Dogs
There are many different causes of DIC, some of which include:
- Bacterial sepsis
- Severe infection
- Infectious hepatitis
- Severe systemic protozoal disease
- Fulminating systemic fungal disease
- Candida sepsis
- Solid tumors
- Myeloproliferative or lymphoproliferative cancer
Tissue trauma, ischemia
- Severe shock
- Heat stroke
- Extreme crushing injury
- Serious burns
- Snake or insect bite
- Gastric dilatation-volvulus
- Severe gastroenteritis (bloat)
- Heartworm disease
- Immune-mediated hemolytic anemia
- Hemolytic transfusion reaction
Diagnosis of Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation in Dogs
The veterinarian will need to do a complete physical examination first, including weight, height, reflexes, body temperature, pupil reaction time, blood pressure, breath sounds, abdominal palpation, heart rate, respirations, and oxygen levels. Be sure to tell the veterinarian if your dog is on any kind of medication (prescription and over the counter) and if you can, bring your dog’s medical and vaccination records. Tests done to determine the cause of DIC include a blood smear to test liver enzyme levels, anemia, and protein levels, and a biochemical analysis to show elevated protein and liver enzymes and decreased platelets. A complete blood count will indicate elevated neutrophilia if there is an infection. A packed cell volume (PCV) will check for dehydration; and a prothrombin (PT) and partial thromboplastin time (PTT) tests will determine clotting factors.
In addition, the veterinarian may do an electrocardiogram (EKG) to test the electrical and muscle functions of the heart. Your dog will be sedated during this procedure. Also, while your dog is sedated, the veterinarian may use an endoscope to check the throat, esophagus, and airway for obstructions or plant residue. Afterward, abdominal x-rays (radiographs) will be done to examine the digestive tract and stomach. If necessary, the veterinarian may also perform an MRI, CT scan, or ultrasound to get a better look at your pet’s organs.
Treatment of Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation in Dogs
The treatment for DIC is dependent on the underlying cause of the DIC, but the first thing the veterinarian will do is stabilize your dog. This may include blood transfusion, intravenous fluid and electrolyte therapy.
The veterinarian will need to hospitalize your dog for at least 24 hours for aggressive treatment of the illness and constant observation.
The medications given to your dog will depend on the underlying disorder, but DIC requires intravenous fluids, electrolytes, and blood transfusions. Antibiotics and corticosteroids may be administered to prevent infections and reduce inflammation.
Recovery of Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation in Dogs
Your dog’s prognosis depends on the underlying cause of the DIC and whether the disease is peracute, acute, or chronic. Acute DIC is a fast moving and life threatening emergency which can be fatal in less than an hour if not treated immediately. If your pet gets treatment right away, the prognosis is still guarded because of the underlying illness.