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What is Hemophilia?

Hemophilia can often be seen in puppies, who can exhibit prolonged bleeding and even die within weeks after birth. Dogs that are less severely affected can survive into adulthood, but will have intermittent episodes of bleeding. The severity of the condition depends on the degree of the coagulation deficiency. Hemophilia is more commonly seen in purebred dogs, and occurs more often in the males.

Hemophilia is an inherited disorder involving a deficiency of the clotting activity in the blood. Hemophiliac dogs suffer from spontaneous and prolonged bleeding from various areas, such as trauma sites, umbilical cords after birth, and the nose, mouth and eyes. Internal bleeding in body cavities such as the chest or abdomen can cause swelling that can lead to death.

Symptoms of Hemophilia in Dogs

Dogs affected with hemophilia can suffer spontaneous episodes of bleeding that are often quite prolonged. They can also exhibit prolonged bleeding after surgery. Spontaneous bleeding into joints and muscles can lead to swelling and lameness, while the acute blood loss can result in hypovolaemic shock. Symptoms you may see in your dog include:

  • Sudden death within the first few weeks of life
  • Prolonged bleeding from umbilical vessels
  • Spontaneous bleeding 
  • Bleeding from mouth, particularly during the growth of adult teeth in puppies
  • Skin hematomas, or a swelling composed of clotted blood
  • Excessive and prolonged bleeding at any trauma or surgery site
  • Bleeding into joints or body cavities
  • Swelling in joints or muscles
  • Lameness
  • Red, round, pinpoint spots appearing on skin
  • Discolored skin
  • Nose bleeds
  • Blood collecting inside the eye, covering the iris and pupil
  • Partial or complete loss of vision
  • Dark and sticky feces containing blood
  • Anemia 
  • Weakness
  • Shock
  • Death 

Types

There are two types of hemophilia seen in dogs.

  • Hemophilia A is a deficiency of coagulation factor VIII, and is the most common inherited clotting disorder in dogs. It can affect most dog breeds
  • Hemophilia B is a deficiency of coagulation factor IX. This type is rarer than hemophilia A, and has been known to affect over 25 breeds of dogs
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Causes of Hemophilia in Dogs

Hemophilia results from a deficiency of the coagulation Factors VIII and IX. These genes are responsible for the normal blood clotting activity that stops the body from bleeding out. When a mutation or abnormality occurs in these genes, it can disrupt the coagulation process, preventing blood clotting and resulting in uncontrolled bleeding.  

This deficiency comes about from a spontaneous gene mutation that can be transmitted through generations. This sex-linked recessive gene is carried on the X chromosome, which means that it is transmitted by the females, who are often asymptomatic carriers. Male puppies born to an affected dam have a 50% chance of developing hemophilia, while the female puppies carry a 50% chance of becoming carriers.

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Diagnosis of Hemophilia in Dogs

Hemophilia is often noticed in dogs after routine surgery if post-operative bleeding becomes excessive or prolonged. A diagnosis will depend on the specific symptoms, the results of testing, and possibly, a pedigree analysis.

Testing includes performing coagulation assays on blood samples. Tests such as an APTT, or activated partial thromboplastin time, can detect a clotting disorder, but cannot diagnose the particular type of hemophilia present.  Measuring a different blood protein or the activity of Factor VIII can help to determine the type of hemophilia your dog may have. The levels of Factor IX can also be measured in the blood.

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Treatment of Hemophilia in Dogs

There is no cure for hemophilia. The main method of treatment for bleeding episodes in dogs involves repeated substitution therapy. This means intravenous whole blood or plasma transfusions until the bleeding can be controlled. Whole blood transfusions are generally given to more severe cases involving life-threatening anemia. Your dog may also be given blood products containing clotting factors. Gene therapy that uses adeno-associated viral vectors may also be a possible treatment.

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Recovery of Hemophilia in Dogs

Recovery for puppies who show signs of hemophilia can be poor, as many experience internal bleeding early on that can be lethal. In older dogs, the bleeding can be excessive, and if left untreated, can also be fatal. If your dog has a less severe case, he may experience intermittent bleeding episodes throughout his lifetime that need to be promptly treated before too much blood loss has occurred. 

Prevention of this inherited gene dysfunction is through selective breeding by excluding affected dogs. Once hemophilia is diagnosed in a puppy, it can alert you to the presence of the gene in the mother. Whether she is an asymptomatic carrier or shows signs of the condition, she should not be bred further, nor should any females born of male carriers. Keeping updated pedigree records can help stop the further spread of this mutation.

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Hemophilia Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Tama

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American Bulldog

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5 Months

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Fair severity

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1 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Swelling On The Head

Hi there my boy tama is 5 months and has been diagnosed with hemophilia blood disorder. I'm just wanting to know he has a swallon head but not his throat is this something I need to be worried about. N

Aug. 14, 2018

Tama's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Without seeing Tama or knowing more about him, I am not sure if the swelling that you are describing is a problem. If it is a buildup of blood, it may be a problem. It would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian, as they can look at the swelling and see what might be going on, and determine if it is a problem, or what to do about it.

Aug. 15, 2018

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Milo

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Terrier mix

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6 Months

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Hemophilia

My 6 month old dog, Milo, has Hemophilia A. We are still waiting for the antibody screening. He has a Factor VIII of less than 1%. At three months old he had severe pain in his spine and was hospitalized for a week(at this time we were unaware of the Hemophilia). He has had lumps on his spine and front right leg which are now gone. He also spent another few days being lethargic and in pain in his neck area. Other than those episodes he is a normal active dog. I only knew to get him tested because other puppies from the litter were diagnosed. I have two other dogs. They all get along well, but recently Milo is becoming aggressive at times and is always “on” them. Is neutering him the anwer or is this much too dangerous with his condition. Struggling with this decision.

June 10, 2018

Milo's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Normally a dog will be diagnosed with haemophilia after castration due to the presence of a haematoma; there are management options available during surgery but you will need to discuss with your Veterinarian if castration is worth the hassle (couldn’t think of a better word). You should discuss the aggression issues and decide whether or not you want to castrate him or not. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 11, 2018

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Thunder

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Bearded Collie

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18 Months

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Hematomas

Hi. I have an eighteen month old Bearded Collie. After two hematomas, one after castration and then another after a grass see was removed, he has been diagnosed with Hemophila B. If he bleeds inside, how can I tell? What can I do? Will there be behavioral changes? Also, should I tell the breeder. Is it from the Dam? Thanks in advance.

May 30, 2018

Thunder's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

If Thunder has or develops internal bleeding, you will notice subtle initial symptoms like lethargy, increased respiration rate, pale gums etc… Normally internal bleeding would occur after a traumatic injury so any time he has a trip, fall or anything else you should visit a Veterinarian immediately. Haemophilia B is a deficiency of clotting factor IX and is an X-linked genetic disease meaning that it is coming from the dam, you should notify the breeder. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

May 31, 2018

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Zippy

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Yorkie terrier

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13 Months

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Fair severity

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1 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Week Back Legs,

We just adopted a 13 month-old Yorkie terrier with hemophilia B. He's been fine and very 'normal' so far, but today he had a very short episode (less than a minute?) where he was dragging his back legs, as if he couldn't walk on them. Is this a symptom of hemophilia, and should we be worried? He's back to his normal self, very hyper again.

May 29, 2018

Zippy's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Some lameness may present after physical exercise if there is some bleeding in the joints, but nothing too concerning; you should keep an eye on Zippy for the time being as the issue may be related to another cause like patellar luxation or similar. If you have concerns or it occurs again you should pop into visit a Veterinarian for a thorough examination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

May 30, 2018

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fidel

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French Bulldog

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3 Months

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Blood In Stool

Hi my French bulldog puppy had a hematoma removed, near his penis when he was eight weeks old, ever since he is being passing blood on the stool, took him back to same vet office twice after the surgery, explained to the vet. She give him antibiotics and ask for stool sample which she send to lab the lab results war normal could this be hemofilia?

March 18, 2018

fidel's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. I'm not sure how a hematoma and passign bloody stool might be related. Without examining Fidel, I'm not sure why he may be having bloody stools, but parasites are very common in 3 month old dogs. If he hasn't been dewormed, that would be a good idea. Hemophilia is very unlikely in his age group, with the signs that you are describing. It would be best to follow up with your veterinarian to determine what the cause of his signs might be.

March 19, 2018

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brownie

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Aspin

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9 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

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I have a 9 year old dog named brownie. for 2 months and a half now, he was suffering from severe nosebleeding whenever he gets excited or prolong barking and even thunder. I had him checked by the vets here, cbc done and the result was low platelet count, low rbc, high wbc, normal liver, high creatinine, he says that brownie was suffering from ehrlichiasis based on the result of the cbc and that he has ticks. he gave him oral doxycycline for 3 weeks and 2 weeks of injectable doxy together with the vitamin C, liver vitamin, green pills for the creatinine, b-complex with iron and menadione, but to no avail. in addition, brownie has no fever at all and the appetite for food is the same, he ate his food eventhough he nosebleeds. at the moment, I stopped all his medications except menadione, liver vitamins and b-complex. he still nosebleeds every once in a while, every 5 days but not too much blood like before. Please help me. I wanted him to get better and stop the nosebleeding. thanks in advance.

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Humboldt

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Great Pyrenees

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4 Months

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

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My 4.5 month old great pyrenees/boxer puppy was recently hospitalized with a large life-threatening hematoma on his shoulder that occured after microchipping. He has now stabilized and back home after blood and plasma transfusions. We are still waiting for the factor levels to determine whether this is hemophilia and which type if so. At this point we strongly suspect it. is aPTT was very prolonged- in the 200s. Is the degree of PTT prolongation a sign of how severe his hemophilia is? Does the fact that it was measured during an acute bleed make a difference? Do some dogs with moderate to severe hemophilia live long lives? I am absolutely heartbroken by this news.

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