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Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

How Von Willebrand's Disease Can Affect Your Australian Shepherd

By Anton Hout, author of The Guide to Aussie Training & Care

It's a beautiful day at the park. As you are chatting with one of the other dog owners you hear a yelp, and then another. You both turn to see what the trouble is and you see that your dog is the source of the cries, and she's limping. She has cut her paw on something and is bleeding. Luckily, it's a fairly small wound but try as you might the bleeding just won't stop.

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Does Your Aussie Have Von Willebrand's Disease?

You may have heard of Von Willebrand's Disease (VWD) but not be familiar with how it might affect your Australian Shepherd. Fortunately, it is relatively rare in Aussies, but it is still a condition you should be familiar with. In this article we'll take a look at:

  • What is VWD?
  • Signs and symptoms of VWD
  • What to do if you suspect your Aussie has VWD
Von Willebrand Disease

Veronica and Lee Lopez

Australian Shepherds are active high energy dogs. Owners of Aussies with Von Willebrand Disease need to be aware of potential risks and appropriate responses in case of emergency.

Sookie has endless energy and enjoys playing in the yard or enjoying a nice game of fetch or frisbee.

What Is Von Willebrand's Disease?

Von Willebrand's Disease is an inherited condition that affects the ability of a dog's blood to clot. Blood clotting is actually a fairly complex process and in order for it to work properly there are many factors that come into play. One of those factors, the von Willebrand Factor (vWF) is not available as it should be for clotting to occur.

There are three main types of Von Willebrand Disease:

Type 1:
The vWF is not available in sufficient amounts but is still present. So while clotting still occurs it may take much longer than normal for bleeding to stop. This is the most common type of VWD.

Type 2:
The vWF is present but does not function correctly.

Type 3:
There is almost no vWF available and bleeding can be very difficult to stop.

Signs And Symptoms Of Von Willebrand's Disease

The obvious sign that your Australian Shepherd may have VWD is that it takes a longer than usual time for bleeding episodes to stop. This can range from taking just a bit longer to not stopping at all and requiring medical intervention.

This is usually noticed when there is an injury, after a surgical procedure, when nails are trimmed or when a female is in heat. Another sign of VWD is spontaneous bleeding from the nose or gums.

Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

What To Do If You Suspect Your Aussie Has Von Willebrand Disease

If you have seen symptoms of Von Willebrand Disease in your Australian Shepherd you should, of course, consult your veterinarian. There are blood and DNA tests that can be done to determine if your Aussie has the condition. Your vet may prescribe Desmopressin (DDAVP) before any surgeries to help control bleeding.

It is also important to watch your Aussie for injuries when playing. Even small injuries can be serious and you should not hesitate to take your dog to the vet or emergency clinic if bleeding cannot be controlled.

While it's true that VWD is rare in Aussies it's always a good idea to be familiar with conditions like this so you don't overlook or dismiss any symptoms you might see.

Von Willebrand Disease Can Be Mimicked By A Thyroid Condition

It would be a serious mistake to lower your guard and ignore symptoms. Even if your Aussie has not had any symptoms and has even been tested and shown as negative for VWD it is possible for a thyroid condition to affect vWF levels resulting in the same blood clotting problems. While there is no cure for VWD, it is possible to treat an underlying thyroid condition and restore vWF.

Protecting Your Aussie And Eliminating Von Willebrand's Disease

So, Von Willebrand's Disease is an inherited disease that affects blood clotting and can range from mild to severe. Even though it is rare in Australian Shepherds, be alert for any signs or symptoms. If you have any concerns see your vet who can test your Aussie for the condition and take precautions when performing any surgeries to prevent excessive bleeding.

If you are concerned you can have your dog tested before any symptoms appear so you can take preventive measures to keep your Aussie happy and healthy. If your dog is diagnosed with VWD be sure to contact your breeder as its relatives should also be tested. Breeders play a vital role in preventing inheritable diseases like VWD from becoming more widespread—and in helping to eliminate them. icon

Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

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