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Clotting Deficiency (Inherited) in Dogs

Coagulation Factor Deficiency in Dogs

Coagulation factor deficiency in dogs occurs when the blood fails to clot properly, transitioning from a liquid to a thickened gel-like state essential for wound sealing and healing. When a dog experiences uncontrollable bleeding after an injury, it could indicate a defect in one or more processes involved in coagulation. This defect disrupts the complex enzyme reactions necessary for clot formation, leading to prolonged hemorrhaging and eventual blood loss anemia. Moreover, the failure of blood to coagulate properly can result in internal bleeding. Recognizing the symptoms associated with this condition is crucial for prompt intervention. It’s worth noting that this medical condition can affect both dogs and cats.

Symptoms and Types

Symptoms of coagulation factor deficiency encompass various signs, including prolonged bleeding following surgery or injury, which is an evident external manifestation. Additionally, there are subtler indications associated with blood loss anemia and internal bleeding. Blood loss anemia may manifest as weakness, lethargy, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, confusion, and a condition called pica, characterized by compulsive behavior aimed at addressing mineral or vitamin deficiencies, particularly iron deficiency due to blood loss. Internal bleeding might be evidenced by bloody vomit or stools, bleeding from the rectum or vagina, difficulty breathing, irregular heart rhythm, a swollen or firm abdomen, and increased thirst.


Several factors contribute to the likelihood that your pet may have coagulation factor deficiency. An underlying condition, such as vitamin K deficiency, can impair liver function, which is crucial for synthesizing the enzymes essential for coagulation. Liver disorders can also disrupt enzyme synthesis. Moreover, coagulation deficiency can stem from hereditary factors. For instance, Hemophilia, both A and B forms, are x-linked recessive traits, causing excessive bleeding in males while females carry and transmit the trait. Hemophilia is characterized by insufficient levels of the protein necessary for platelet binding and clot formation, a crucial coagulation factor. The condition can vary in severity and may develop due to the formation of antibodies blocking coagulation processes, not solely through inheritance. Severe deficiency typically becomes evident by four to six months of age, while milder cases may manifest after injury or surgery.

External environmental factors also influence the incidence of coagulation factor deficiency. Ingestion of rat poison or snake bites can disrupt enzyme and protein processing in the body. Additionally, certain prescribed medications can affect clotting ability. Prolonged use of antibiotics may lead to complications, while prescription Heparin, an anticoagulant used for dissolving blood clots, can inadvertently cause overdose issues.


To begin the diagnosis process, your veterinarian may initially aim to eliminate external factors, such as exposure to rodent poison or recent encounters with snakes or lizards. They will likely request a comprehensive blood test and assess the blood’s coagulation ability to identify the underlying cause of the disorder. If your dog exhibits elevated levels of red blood cells (RBC), indicative of regenerative anemia, it may suggest the presence of internal bleeding.


In cases of severe blood loss, your dog will likely require hospitalization and administration of blood and plasma transfusions. Repeated transfusions may be necessary to manage or prevent additional hemorrhaging. Your veterinarian may also prescribe vitamin K, particularly if your dog has ingested rodent poison or is affected by other conditions depleting this vitamin.

Living and Management

Continuous blood testing is essential to assess the effectiveness of vitamin K supplementation. Improvement should typically be noticeable within 24 to 48 hours of starting therapy. Evaluating whether a hereditary deficiency has been successfully treated requires factor analysis, resolution of hematomas (clotted blood collections), and cessation of bleeding. Transfusion can sometimes trigger immune reactions if antibodies reject the new blood, necessitating close monitoring for signs of rejection if transfusion is administered.

There isn’t a particular breed more susceptible than others, so prevention measures are limited unless the condition is known to be in the genetic makeup of a breeding dog. If a hereditary factor is identified as the cause of coagulation factor deficiency, it’s advisable not to breed the affected dog.

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