You should never ignore a dog blood clot in urine. A blood clot, or thrombus, can form in any location in a dog’s body. A blood clot, in and of itself, is usually an indicator that your dog may have an underlying medical issue that needs attention. If you see blood, or clotted blood, in your dog’s urine, contact you vet immediately so they can diagnosis the underlying cause.
The prognosis for dogs with blood clots is dependent on where the source of the blood clot is coming from and how quickly treatment is administered.
What is Hematuria and What Are Blood Clots?
Blood clots form when platelets, which are tiny blood cells that help your dog’s body form clots to stop bleeding, and plasma proteins in the blood thicken and clump together. Unfortunately, blood clots can be dangerous when they occur, and many dogs succumb to the symptoms of the disorder rather quickly if left untreated.
Any type of blood in a dog’s urine is medically known as hematuria; the condition is exhibited in one of two ways:
- Microscopic hematuria – In this form, blood can only be seen in urine when a sample is examined under a microscope.
- Gross hematuria – With gross hematuria, the presence of blood in urine is easily detectable; you may notice it as discoloration or visible blood clots.
Both types of hematuria can have serious causes.
Blood clots, if left untreated for too long, can be fatal in dogs. Even with veterinary intervention, your dog may experience a recurrence of blood clots. Consistent at-home monitoring and regular vet visits are essential to maintaining the health of your dog.
What Should I Be Looking For?
Dog blood clots can often go unnoticed for some time. Unless you are paying attention to your dog every time he pees, blood clots can go unnoticed.
While hematuria usually isn’t painful for dog, passing blood clots in their urine will be. Because of this, one of the first signs of the condition may be discomfort. If it appears that your dog is in distress or makes any audible whining noises as he pees, it’s important that you begin to monitor his urination.
One of the easiest ways to determine if your dog has blood or blood clots in his urine is to have him urinate on a light-colored surface, such as snow, carpet, a pee pad, or even a piece of paper. You’ll be able to see if his urine is discolored (appearing to be amber, orange, red, or brown) or if there are any clots. A dog blood clot in urine will appear as a gel-like clump of blood.
Because blood clots in urine usually mean your dog is suffering from another medical problem, you may also notice that your dog is displaying additional symptoms as well. If blood clots are present in your dog’s urinary tract, he may also be experiencing dog vomiting, an inability to control his urination, not urinating at all, or your dog may show signs of pain around his prostate, abdomen, or bladder. Excessive grooming, frequent vocalizing, panting, aggression, loss of appetite, and changes in sleep, can all be indications that your dog is experiencing pain.
If you do see a dog blood clot in his urine, make sure to note its shape and color, if it was associated with any pain, and the time of urination it appeared (beginning, during, or end of stream), as these can be helpful to your vet when it’s time to form a diagnosis. Your vet may also ask that you collect a sample of your dog’s urine and bring it in for a thorough analysis.
What Causes a Dog Blood Clot in Urine?
Clots, in general, form when platelets and plasma proteins in the blood thicken and coagulate. In some cases, an underlying medical issue can also cause a dog to develop a blog clot. Blood may begin to clot for a variety of reasons, including:
- Autoimmune diseases
- Cushing’s disease
- Damaged blood vessels
- High cholesterol
- Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
- Kidney disease
- Long term use of steroids or corticosteroids
- Parasitic infection
- Poor blood circulation
- Surgical complications
- Trauma that causes inflammation
- Protein loss through the GI tract or kidneys
There are multiple diseases and medical issues associated with a dog’s urinary tract that can cause blood clots to appear in his urine. For example, urinary stones, such as canine bladder stones or kidney stones, are a common cause of blood clots in urine. Even tick-borne illness, which can interfere with the blood’s clotting ability, are a potential culprit.
Male dogs that are not neutered are at higher risk for prostate disease, which can then lead to inflammation in the urinary tract and cause bleeding.
Hypercoagulability, or the tendency to develop blood clots is usually inherited. There are also several types of congenital blood protein disorders that are present in dogs from birth; signs of these conditions typically appear at an early age. These blood disorders, which can cause clotting issues, have been reported in several dog breeds, including:
- Alaskan Klee Kai
- Alaskan Malamutes
- Basset Hounds
- Doberman Pinschers
- English Bulldogs
- English Cocker Spaniels
- German Shepherds
- Golden Retrievers
- Great Pyrenees
- Miniature Schnauzers
- Pembroke Welsh Corgis
- Saint Bernards
- Scottish Terriers
- Standard Poodles
If you believe your dog is susceptible to any of these conditions, the best thing to do would be to have your dog’s urinary tract evaluated by his vet to screen for potential blood clots.
Diagnosing Dog Blood Clot
Because there is a large number of potential underlying problems associated with dog blood clotting, a diagnosis will need to be made by your vet as soon as possible. Veterinarians will typically conduct a thorough physical exam, urinalysis, and basic blood work, in order to determine a definitive diagnosis.
Imaging tests, such as x-rays, are used to confirm the presence of blood clots and pinpoint their exact location. If stones are not found with this method, your vet may move onto ultrasounds, which may be more suitable for a dog blood clot located in the urinary tract.
Once the blood clot is confirmed, the source and cause of it will then be evaluated. A biochemistry analysis that includes blood and urine tests will indicate the health of your dog’s kidneys, which can affect his urinary tract as well.
Tests may be completed to test your dog’s coagulation factors. Coagulation factors are substances that are made in the liver and circulate in the bloodstream. There are 13 coagulation factors, and each one becomes activated in a specific sequence when a blood vessel or tissue injury occurs; these factors work with platelets to produce a clot at the site of an injury. A prothrombin time analysis measures blood clotting based on extrinsic coagulation factors, which helps to determine if the clotting rate is normal. This allows your vet to determine if your dog has a bleeding disorder or excessive clotting disorder.
A thromboelastography, while it’s a less common form of diagnostic analysis, can give your vet insight to your dog’s blood health as well. This test requires a small sample of blood, and can determine whether your dog’s blood is more likely to clot. It also assesses the efficiency of your dog’s platelet function, clot strength, and fibrinolysis.
Additional tests may be performed if the vet suspects any underlying diseases and disorders as the cause of your dog’s blood clotting abnormalities. Your vet will likely ask about your dog’s health history as well, in order to make an accurate diagnosis.
What Do I Do If I Notice Blood Clots in My Dog’s Urine?
If you see blood or blood clots in your dog’s urine, or if he is exhibiting any of the symptoms above, contact your vet immediately. Dog blood clots in urine can be a life-threatening condition, and early diagnosis and treatment can greatly improve your dog’s chances of survival.
Treatment for blood clots in dogs typically depends on the underlying cause. However, it is likely that your vet will prescribe blood-thinning medication to help reduce the size of the clot and break it down. If this is the case, your dog will need to be closely monitored to ensure he doesn’t injure himself. While taking blood-thinning medication, even something as mild as a small cut or abrasion can bleed profusely.
In some circumstances, surgical removal of the clot could be an option—depending on where it is located and the effectiveness of the blood thinning medication. Other situations may allow for a blood clot removal through a specialized catheter, which pulls the clot out manually. As these procedures are more invasive, there are higher risks for complication and bleeding.
Once the clot is removed or has been dissolved, treatment will likely focus on preventing new blood clots from forming. Anti-inflammatory and anticoagulant medications may be given. If anticoagulant medicines are indicated, your vet will prescribe the amount and length of time to administer the medication. This dosage will be dependent on your dog’s prothrombin time analysis, or the amount of time it takes for your dog’s blood to clot.
Your vet may also suggest fluid therapy to eliminate the development of any more blood clots. With fluid therapy, electrolytes such as potassium are injected under your dog’s skin. This treatment helps to boost your dog’s urinary system to better regulate his blood volume and blood pressure.
Before deciding on therapy, talk to your vet about potential side effects of medication. For example, while helpful in dissolving a blood clot, the use of anticoagulation medicines can cause extremely serious side effects, such as hemorrhaging, anemia, hematoma, nosebleeds, and bruising. Always follow the correct dosage when giving your dog medication, since an overdose of anticoagulation medicines can be fatal.
Your dog will need to be closely monitored until the danger of the clot has passed. Although more common in cats than dogs, in some cases, the return of blood flow can cause dangerous levels of protein and acids to build up, which can damage tissue in the body. Your vet may request that you track and measure your dog’s prothrombin (clotting) times several times a week until it is certain that the issue has been cleared up.
Some dogs respond better to blood clot treatments than others, and their recovery is highly dependent on how quickly any underlying causes are identified and addressed. Upon treatment, your vet may give you specialized care and feeding instructions designed specifically for your dog to facilitate his healing. Your dog’s activity will need to be strictly limited, and bed rest may be required. It is important that you follow your vet’s instructions regarding aftercare; your dog may need to remain on blood-thinning medications and therapies for the rest of his life. Follow-up appointments and regular check-ups will also be necessary.
- “Blood in the Urine in Dogs – Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost.” WagWalking, www.wagwalking.com/condition/blood-in-urine.
- “Blood In Dog Urine: What You Need To Know And Do.” Care.com, www.care.com/c/stories/6493/what-to-do-if-you-see-blood-in-dog-urine/.
- Burke, Anna. “What Does Blood in Dog Urine Mean? – American Kennel Club.” American Kennel Club, 17 July 2017, www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/blood-in-dog-urine/.