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Von Willebrand’s disease (vWD) is caused by a deficiency of von Willebrand’s factor (vWF), one of the elements that allow blood to form clots. Von Willebrand’s disease can cause prolonged or excessive bleeding.

VWD is a hereditary defect that is passed from parents to offspring through genetic material. Inheritance is complicated, but vWD is equally likely to affect males and females, and one affected parent can pass the condition to his offspring. Many different dog breeds can be affected with vWD and different breeds are prone to different subtypes of the disease.

The severity of vWD varies from dog to dog, but in most, it becomes a problem only when surgery is needed or if the dog is injured.

What to Watch For

Prolonged or excessive bleeding after injury

Prolonged or excessive bleeding after surgery

Bleeding from the gums or nose

Bloody urine

Diagnosis

VWD cannot be diagnosed definitively with routine in-hospital testing but requires specialized tests. Diagnostic tests are needed to recognize vWD and exclude other diseases. These tests may include:


A complete medical history and physical examination

Complete blood count (CBC). This test should be performed on any bleeding dog to be certain the number of platelets (the cells which allow clots to form) is normal and to check for anemia, a deficiency of oxygen-carrying red blood cells.


Tests of clotting ability, including activated partial thromboplastin time (APTT) and one-stage prothrombin time (OSPT). Although results of these tests will be normal in a dog with vWD, they help rule out other diseases.


Buccal mucosal bleeding time. In this crude test of platelet function, vascular (blood vessel) function, and vWD, a small, precise cut is made inside the dog’s lip and the time it takes to form a clot is measured. This test helps your veterinarian decide if more specific testing is indicated.


Measurement of von Willebrand’s factor. Unfortunately, this specific blood test may need to be repeated because there is a lot of day-to-day variation in vWF concentration and because results may fall into a borderline range.

Treatments


Most dogs with vWD require no treatment unless a surgery is planned or an injury is sustained.


Blood products from healthy dogs can stop excessive bleeding in dogs with vWD. Either the liquid part of blood (plasma), whole blood (plasma plus blood cells) or a concentrate of clotting factors (cryoprecipitate) may be given.


If repeated transfusions are necessary, it is important to cross match the patient’s blood with the donor’s blood.


Desmopressin acetate (DDAVP) is a hormone that can increase von Willebrand’s Factor concentrations temporarily. It may be given just prior to surgery or to a healthy dog that will then be used to give blood to the dog with vWD.


If a dog with vWD is found to have poor thyroid function, thyroid supplementation is recommended.

Home Care and Prevention

Provide soft padded areas for your dog to lie on. Minimize the chance of injury by observing and fixing any sharp corners, such as on doggie doors. It is usually not necessary to limit activity as spontaneous bleeding is not common. If your dog should begin bleeding, seek veterinary assistance immediately.

Because it is a hereditary disease, an animal born with vWD cannot be cured. Do not breed dogs that have vWD. Although careful breeding can minimize the incidence of vWD, a complex inheritance pattern makes elimination of the disease in a breed difficult.

Minimize the chance of injury by keeping your dog confined either in a fenced area or on a leash when outdoors. If your dog should begin bleeding, seek veterinary assistance immediately.

Inform any veterinarian treating your dog about his vWD. This is especially important prior to surgical procedures. Inform any groomer handling your dog about his condition; they will use extra care in clipping and trimming nails and can be prepared if a cut occurs.
 

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Our girl Raven is a high carrier of VwD. She had no signs when we got her. We had her ears Cropped and her tail redocked with out any bleeding problems. Then one day on Vacation she cut her behind just a little.. Less than a 1/8". It would not stop bleeding. At the vet's office he told us he thought she might have VwD and we should test her. Well, she is a carrier not afflected! But she only has 4% clotting factor in her blood. Now we have to be very careful of any cuts that she gets! We had her spay and no problem, the vet said that she was clotting as he cut her open, but she broke a toe nail and it bleed for a month. so now we watch her all the time. I really wanted to put her in Search and Rescue training but that will never happen. She could go out on a job, get cut and bleed to death!
Thank you for the thread! It is important information that all Dobermans owners need to Know!!
 

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Sea Hag
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frznbuns said:
Our girl Raven is a high carrier of VwD. She had no signs when we got her. We had her ears Cropped and her tail redocked with out any bleeding problems. Then one day on Vacation she cut her behind just a little.. Less than a 1/8". It would not stop bleeding. At the vet's office he told us he thought she might have VwD and we should test her. Well, she is a carrier not afflected! But she only has 4% clotting factor in her blood. Now we have to be very careful of any cuts that she gets! We had her spay and no problem, the vet said that she was clotting as he cut her open, but she broke a toe nail and it bleed for a month. so now we watch her all the time. I really wanted to put her in Search and Rescue training but that will never happen. She could go out on a job, get cut and bleed to death!
Thank you for the thread! It is important information that all Dobermans owners need to Know!!
There isn't any such thing as a "high carrier" of vWD. Dogs are either carriers or they're not..a carrier only has one copy of the gene that causes vWD, and as such, will NEVER have a clotting problem caused by this disease. It's a simple recessive, meaning affected dogs need TWO copies of the gene to have the disease.

The only definitive test for vWD is the dna test marketed through Vetgen.
The ELISA blood test used by many vets has a very high error rate, and the nature of the disease itself causes an overlap between categories.

It sounds like your dog is affected..and I'm sorry to hear you've had clotting problems with her. That's very unusual..most affected dogs never become clinically affected..they lead perfectly normal lives, sustain injuries, have routine surgeries, all without any clotting difficulties.

Make sure your do annual thyroid panels on your girl..low thyroid has been linked to an increased risk of clotting problems with vWD affected dogs.
 

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So if a dog is a carrier and they give a percentage what is that percentage exactly? Is the high number or low number worse? And which test is that that comes back with a number like that? For example, she said her dog had only 4% clotting factor, and it sounds like the dog is affected. But if the results said, carrier, with a percent number, what does that stand for?
 

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Sea Hag
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mybaby said:
So if a dog is a carrier and they give a percentage what is that percentage exactly? Is the high number or low number worse? And which test is that that comes back with a number like that? For example, she said her dog had only 4% clotting factor, and it sounds like the dog is affected. But if the results said, carrier, with a percent number, what does that stand for?
The ELISA blood test is the one that gives a result that's measured in percentages. I don't have the scale in front of me right now to tell you what the carrier range is..but lower numbers are "worse".

The problem with the ELISA test is it has a high error rate..lots of extraneous things can skew the results..human error, hormones, stress, etc.

One of my bitches was tested three times with the ELISA test, this is in the days before the dna test was developed. Three tests..and I got a result in each possible category for her. Name one..clear, carrier, affected-I got a test result for each. That's when I decided those tests were a complete and total waste of money and time, something I'd never bother with again. BTW..this bitch was a carrier via dna.

Additionally, there's an overlap between categories using the ELISA test..the greatest overlap is between the carrier/affected ranges. Comparing ELISA scores with dna test results, the only consistent test scores were in the range of 20% and below..those dogs were scored as affected with both tests on a reliable basis. Here's a link that can provide more info about this: http://www.vetgen.com/correlat.html
 

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Murreydobe said:
There isn't any such thing as a "high carrier" of vWD. Dogs are either carriers or they're not..a carrier only has one copy of the gene that causes vWD, and as such, will NEVER have a clotting problem caused by this disease. It's a simple recessive, meaning affected dogs need TWO copies of the gene to have the disease.

The only definitive test for vWD is the dna test marketed through Vetgen.
The ELISA blood test used by many vets has a very high error rate, and the nature of the disease itself causes an overlap between categories.

It sounds like your dog is affected..and I'm sorry to hear you've had clotting problems with her. That's very unusual..most affected dogs never become clinically affected..they lead perfectly normal lives, sustain injuries, have routine surgeries, all without any clotting difficulties.

Make sure your do annual thyroid panels on your girl..low thyroid has been linked to an increased risk of clotting problems with vWD affected dogs.
Raven has been DNA Tested by Vetgen as has all my other dogs!! Raven is a Carrier not affected! Also her thyroid panel is fine as is for all my other dogs! I make sure I have my dogs tested. I have had 2 vets also test her for the clotting factor and it is 4% which is very Low.
The only thing Vetgen does is tell you if they are Clear, Carrier or Affected.
 
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