Can dogs get bruises? It can be hard to tell if your dog's roughhousing causes a lasting bump because of the fur that covers his body. In fact, bruising in dogs is unusual thanks to their thick skin and that same protective layer of fur. If you do notice a bruise on your dog, it's worth a trip to the veterinarian.
Bruising in Dogs: An Unusual Sign
Because it is uncommon in dogs, bruising could be a sign of an internal injury or internal bleeding if your dog was in a car crash, had a fall or ingested something toxic (like aspirin or rat poison), says Pet Health Network. You should look for other indications that you dog may have sustained a bruise such as limping, licking certain parts of the body in excess or general lack of activity.
If your dog is bruising but hasn't undergone any trauma or ingested anything strange, it could be a sign of a disease. A veterinarian will do diagnostic tests on your dog to try to figure out the cause of the bruising. Your vet can also rule out if apparent bruising is actually something more benign like an allergic reaction.
Diseases That Cause Bruises
The type of bruising a dog has can help identify the underlying problem. Small pinpoint bruises (called petechiae), for instance, can be a sign of a disease, while larger bruises (known as ecchymosis) can indicate trauma or certain immune disease processes. So what diseases can cause bruising in dogs? Two congenital diseases that are also found in humans can cause bruising:
- Hemophilia affects the body's ability to make blood clots. The Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine says dogs suffering from hemophilia can also often show signs of lameness and swelling because of bleeding into their joints and muscles.
- Von Willebrand disease is also a blood clotting disorder. Pet Health Network notes that this disease is seen more often in certain breeds, including German shepherds, Doberman pinschers, Scottish terriers, Shetland sheepdogs and German shorthaired pointers.
Other Possible Causes
The Pet Health Network also identifies a number of "acquired" causes for bruising. An acquired cause means the disease isn't something the dog is born with, but rather a condition that develops later in life. Four of the most common acquired causes for bruising include:
- An infection caused by a tick: Ticks can pass platelet-affecting diseases to dogs. These diseases include Ehrlichia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever or Anaplasma, all of which can cause bruising.
- Metabolic issues caused by liver failure or cancer.
- Immune-mediated thrombocytopenia, which is a rare condition that causes your dog's immune system to destroy the platelet cells responsible for blood clotting.
- Toxin ingestion: Some toxins like rodenticides can cause bleeding, as well as bruising as a secondary effect.
Treatment for Dog Bruises
A vet will determine the best treatment for your dog once they determine what is causing the bruising. Treatment can range from intravenous (IV) fluids and blood and plasma transfusions to vitamin therapy and symptomatic supportive care.
So can dogs get bruises? Occasionally. But you should never ignore any signs of bruising in your dog. The sooner any issue is identified, the sooner treatment can start, giving your dog the best chance for a full and healthy life.
Kara Murphy is a freelance writer and pet parent who lives in Erie, Pa. She has a goldendoodle named Maddie.