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Von Willebrand’s Disease in dogs (vWD) is a common inherited bleeding disorder, similar to hemophilia in humans. It results from a deficiency in von Willebrand factor (vWF), a protein crucial for blood clotting.

This condition affects dogs of all ages and can range from mild to severe. Understanding the disease’s aspects, from diagnosis to management, is vital for pet owners to ensure their dogs lead healthy lives.


Von Willebrand’s Disease is named after Finnish physician Erik von Willebrand, who first described the condition in humans.

In dogs, vWD involves defective or deficient vWF, which helps platelets (the cells responsible for clotting) adhere to blood vessel walls when injury occurs. Without sufficient vWF, dogs can experience prolonged bleeding even from minor injuries.

Signs and Symptoms

Recognizing the signs of vWD is crucial for early diagnosis and treatment. Symptoms may vary depending on the disease’s severity but commonly include:

Excessive Bleeding

Dogs with vWD may bleed excessively from small wounds, have nosebleeds, or bleed from the gums. They may also display prolonged bleeding during heat cycles or after giving birth.


Easy bruising is a common sign, even without any apparent injury. Bruises might appear larger or spread more extensively than normal.

Blood in Stools or Urine

Blood may be visible in urine (hematuria) or stools (melena), indicating internal bleeding.

Weakness and Lethargy

Signs of anemia, such as weakness, lethargy, and pale gums, can develop if there is significant blood loss over time.

Von Willebrand’s Disease Treatment


A definitive diagnosis is usually made through blood tests that measure the level of von Willebrand factor in the blood.

Genetic testing is also available to identify carriers of the disease, particularly useful in breeding programs.

Medical Management

Treatment depends on the severity and might include:

  • Desmopressin: A synthetic hormone that can temporarily increase the levels of vWF in the blood.
  • Blood transfusions: Needed in cases of severe bleeding to replenish blood volume and provide clotting factors.
  • Medications: Avoidance of certain medications like aspirin which can worsen bleeding tendencies.

Surgical and Emergency Interventions

In cases of severe trauma or surgical procedures, special preparations may be necessary, including the use of blood products or antifibrinolytics.


Most dogs with vWD live normal lives, especially if the condition is mild and properly managed. Dogs with severe vWD may require more intensive management and can have a more guarded prognosis.

Living with Von Willebrand’s Disease

Living with a dog diagnosed with vWD involves managing their environment to minimize the risk of injury. Regular veterinary check-ups and careful monitoring for any signs of bleeding are crucial.

Informing your vet about your dog’s condition before any surgical procedure is also essential.

Choosing a Veterinarian

When choosing a vet for a dog with vWD, consider a clinic that has experience with blood disorders and has access to necessary diagnostic tools and treatments. A specialist in veterinary hematology is ideal, especially for severe cases.


Von Willebrand’s Disease in dogs is a manageable condition with proper care and precautions. Understanding the signs and having a proactive approach to treatment can help ensure that affected dogs lead full and healthy lives. Awareness and timely intervention are key in managing this genetic disorder.

Further Reading:

  1. Von Willebrand’s Disease in Dogs – PetMD – PetMD provides a comprehensive overview of vWD, including detailed sections on symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options.
  2. Managing Von Willebrand Disease in Dogs – VCA Hospitals
    This resource from VCA Hospitals offers insights into managing the disease daily, focusing on practical tips for owners.

Thank you for your interest in our Von Willebrand’s Disease in Dogs article. Be sure to check out the many comprehensive articles on our Dog Health Problems home page.

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