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Clotting Deficiency (Liver Related) in Dogs

Coagulopathy of Liver Disease in Dogs

Liver disease in dogs can lead to coagulopathy, a condition where the blood’s ability to clot is impaired. The liver plays a crucial role in synthesizing various proteins involved in clotting, as well as those responsible for preventing excessive clotting and breaking down blood clots. Nearly all clotting factors are produced in the liver, except for five. As a result, liver diseases affecting clotting can pose severe and potentially life-threatening complications for dogs.

Symptoms and Types

  • Melena – Black feces resulting from digested blood.
  • Hematochezia – Passage of bright red blood in the feces.
  • Hematemesis – Vomiting or spitting up blood.
  • Prolonged bleeding following blood draws, urination, or recent surgical wounds.
  • Occasional spontaneous bruising (rare).


The causes of coagulopathy in liver disease are diverse, including:

  • Severe liver failure
  • Acute viral liver disease
  • Cirrhosis (liver hardening and shrinking with loss of functional tissue)
  • Extrahepatic bile duct obstruction (EHBDO)
  • Vitamin K deficiency associated with severe intra- or extrahepatic cholestasis (blockage of bile ducts) or steatorrhea (fat in feces due to impaired fat digestion from lacking liver enzymes).
  • Portosystemic Vascular Anomaly (PSVA), leading to insufficient blood flow to the liver


When consulting the veterinarian, it’s important to provide a detailed history of your dog’s health, including the onset and characteristics of symptoms. The veterinarian will conduct a comprehensive physical examination and order tests such as a biochemistry profile, urinalysis, complete blood count (CBC), and electrolyte panel.

Hemostatic tests, including activated partial thromboplastin time (APTT), activated clotting time (ACT), prothrombin time (PT), thrombin clotting time (TCT), and Proteins Induced by Vitamin K Absence (PIVKA), are valuable for assessing the severity of the dog’s clotting abnormalities. Additionally, tests may be conducted to identify low levels of coagulation/anticoagulant factors such as antithrombin (AT) and protein C activity.

X-rays are utilized to detect liver abnormalities, abdominal fluid accumulation, abnormal intestinal movements, and thickening in affected areas.


In most instances, invasive interventions are not required unless severe hemorrhaging occurs. Viable options for treating hemostatic disorders include fresh whole blood, fresh frozen plasma, cryoprecipitate, or platelet-rich plasma.

However, if the dog exhibits abdominal fluid buildup, a sample must be carefully obtained to ascertain whether it stems from hemorrhage or ascites. This procedure needs to be conducted with utmost care to prevent exacerbating the issue.

Living and Management

A nutritious, vitamin-rich, well-balanced diet is crucial for facilitating a speedy recovery. Additionally, deworming your pet to eliminate parasites can aid in preventing future instances of intestinal bleeding.

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