What is Bleeding Under the Skin?

Hemorrhaging under the skin occurs as the result of burst blood vessels and may manifest in three ways: as bruising, which appears discoloration of the skin; as petechiae, which appear as small red of purple spots on the skin; and as ecchymoses, which appears as purplish patch(es) on the dog’s mucous membranes or under the skin.

Bleeding under the skin is typically the result of injury; however, they may be exacerbated by certain bleeding disorders. Immune-mediated thrombocytopenia, an autoimmune disorder in which the dog’s body attacks its own platelets, is more likely to occur in female dogs and in the German Shepherd, Greyhound, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Old English Sheepdog breeds. Canine thrombopathia is a congenital defect in platelet functioning and has only been found in the Basset Hound breed. Lymphoma is the established cancer of the immune system and is more commonly found in the Boxer, Golden Retriever, Saint Bernard, Basset Hound, Airedale Terrier, Bulldog and Scottish Terrier breeds. Von Willebrand’s disease is a deficiency in the clotting protein known as von Willebrand’s factor and most commonly occurs in the Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Miniature Schnauzer, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Standard Manchester Terrier, Standard Poodle, Scottish Terrier, Basset Hound and Shetland Sheepdog breeds.

Symptoms of Bleeding Under the Skin in Dogs

The only symptoms of bleeding under the skin are bruising, petechial, and ecchymosis. Other than the fact that ecchymosis may appear on mucous membranes, it can be difficult to distinguish from bleeding. If your dog’s bleeding under the skin is caused by the presence of an underlying disorder, she may exhibit additional symptoms, discussed at length below in the Causes section.

Types
The two types of bleeding under the skin are bleeding as a result of injury, and bleeding under the skin that is facilitated by an underlying disorder.

Causes of Bleeding Under the Skin in Dogs

The most common cause for bleeding under the skin of dogs is simply bodily injury or trauma. However, over-sensitive, excessive or chronic bleeding under the skin may be caused or exacerbated by one of the following disorders:

  • Immune-mediated thrombocytopenia, an autoimmune disorder that causes a dog’s platelets to be destroyed by an overactive immune reaction. Additional symptoms that your dog may exhibit include lethargy, loss of appetite, weakness, nosebleeds, pale mucous membranes, bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract, blood in the urine, vomiting blood, coughing, and ocular hemorrhages.
  • Infectious thrombocytopenia, an immune reaction that causes a dog’s immune system to destroy its own platelets may be caused by ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, babesiosis, leptospirosis, leishmaniasis, heartworm, cytauxzoonosis, parvovirus, herpesvirus or blood poisoning. Additional symptoms your dog may exhibit include nosebleeds, bloody urine or feces, and retinal bleeding.
  • Canine thrombopathia is a platelet-functioning disorder that negatively affects the ability of the dog’s blood to clot. Additional symptoms that your dog may exhibit include nosebleed and bleeding gums.
  • Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphocyte cells, which is a subset of white blood cell integral to your dog’s immune system. Additional symptoms your dog may exhibit are anorexia or lack of appetite, weight loss, lethargy, and weakness.
  • Acquired Clotting Protein Disorders inhibit the body’s ability to clot blood due to liver disease or liver toxicity, most commonly from rodenticide-caused Vitamin K poisoning.
  • Estrogen Toxicity may cause bone marrow suppression leading to low red or white blood cell or platelet count.
  • Chemotherapy may cause bone marrow suppression leading to low red or white blood cell or platelet count.
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease is a clotting disorder caused by a deficiency in the clotting protein known as von Willebrand’s factor. Additional symptoms include spontaneous hemorrhaging from the nose, vagina, urinary tract or oral mucous membranes.
  • Drug reactions that affect platelet functioning: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin.

Diagnosis of Bleeding Under the Skin in Dogs

Diagnosis depends upon thorough reporting of the extent and onset of your dog’s symptoms and any injury or other possible causes. Description of the physical trauma your dog may have suffered will help the veterinarian to determine if the bleeding under your dog’s skin is appropriate or if it may be exacerbated by an underlying disorder. Reporting of medical history and possible ingestion of toxic substances will also be integral to diagnosis. The veterinarian will immediately start the visit by performing a thorough physical examination to search for additional instances of bruising, petechiae, ecchymoses and/or lesions.

The veterinarian will sample your dog’s blood and perform a complete blood count, measuring red and white blood cell and platelet counts, which may indicate that your dog has lymphoma (if white blood cells are abnormally low) or thrombocytopenia (if platelets are abnormally low). Additionally, a clotting test will be performed, which could reveal thrombopathia, von Willebrand’s disease, or acquired protein clotting disorder. This test will also determine if your dog needs to be treated for anemia due to blood loss. A bone marrow sample may be taken if estrogen toxicity is suspected. Bone marrow testing can also indicate if the cause of bleeding under the skin is chemotherapy; however, this is only possible if your dog is undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

A chemical blood profile will be examined and may indicate underlying liver or kidney disease, or vitamin K toxicity due to an elevated level of vitamin K. A urinalysis will be examined for elevated proteins in the urine and blood in the urine, which would point to immune-mediated thrombocytopenia or lymphoma.

Treatment of Bleeding Under the Skin in Dogs

For primary bleeding under the skin, no treatment is necessary, as bleeding will stop on its own and your dog’s skin will return to normal. However, for bleeding under the skin as a symptom of an underlying disorder, treatment of the underlying disorder will be necessary. Specific treatments will depend upon the specific cause. In some cases, your dog may need to be hospitalized and stabilized through IV fluids for hydration and proper electrolyte balance and possible whole blood or packed red blood cell transfusion in the case of anemia or platelet transfusion in the case of a severe platelet deficiency.

Recovery of Bleeding Under the Skin in Dogs

It is important to follow the veterinarian’s instructions for follow-up appointments and at-home care. Minimize your dog’s activity during recovery in order to prevent further injury.

In many cases, it's been historically proven that treatment of the underlying cause will lead to a full recovery; however, if your dog has a congenital bleeding disorder, treatment will be management. For dogs with congenital bleeding disorders, excessive bleeding will need to be managed for the rest of their lives. During a bleeding episode, restrict movement in order to minimize bleeding. Dogs with congenital bleeding disorders who exhibit bleeding gums as a symptom should be fed only soft food and not given hard chew toys or bones.

Cost of Bleeding Under the Skin in Dogs

The veterinarian will most likely need to hospitalize your dog and provide him with intravenous fluids ($67 to $85). However, your dog may require overnight observation ($40 to $120 per night). The veterinarian may diagnosis the bleeding under your dog’s skin as a symptom of anemia. Anemia is a condition of the blood where there is a red blood cell deficiency, resulting in thinner blood and poor health. The veterinarian may treat this by providing your dog with a whole blood transfusion ($500 per unit). Another possibility is that the bleeding is a symptom of a platelet deficiency. Platelets clump together to stop bleeding. If there aren’t enough platelets in the blood then clots cannot be formed. In this case, a platelet transfusion ($150 to $450 per unit) can help resolve the issue.

Bleeding Under the Skin in Dogs Treatment Advice

Bleeding Under the Skin Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Sophie
Shih-tzu/Walker hound and Basenji
12 Years
Moderate condition
0 found this not helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

not contagious mange
Weight Loss
Bleeding through skin

I was petting my dog and all the sudden saw blood oozing out of her skin. I cleaned the area to try to find what was causing this. As I picked up the skin barely pushing on the skin more blood starting oozing out in other areas very close by the original place. It seems as I gently squeeze the skin, it bleeds. The blood was the strange color. We have noticed that she's lost weight but she eats like a horse! She also has had mange, not the contagious type. Her skin looks awful and she's been getting medicated baths to help with the mange problem and daily vitamins. Her energy is slowly going away. Just two months ago, she was running on the beach and recently she barely had the energy to walk.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
402 Recommendations

It would be best to take Sophie to her Veterinarian as bleeding through the skin is very unusual as is usually attributable to poisoning, clotting disorders, trauma or cancer. Your Veterinarian may take a biopsy sample for analysis. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Add a comment to Sophie's experience

Was this experience helpful?

icon-helpfulCreated with Sketch.icon-helpful-whiteCreated with Sketch. Helpful icon-not-helpfulCreated with Sketch.icon-not-helpful-whiteCreated with Sketch. Not Helpful
Comment
Princess
Persian
15 Years
Mild condition
1 found this not helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

A little sensitive to touch

My cat Appears to have a cut on her leg which is has been mildly bleeding but u can see a larger purple path underneath that . Will monitoring be enough ? Assuming it does not change ?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
402 Recommendations

Cuts and bruises in older cats always have to be treated with caution as clotting disorders can lead to prolonged bleeding and recovery times. You can try monitoring it, but if the bruising get larger or the cut doesn’t heal, visit your Veterinarian; it may be worth visiting your Veterinarian to get some antibiotics. Make sure you keep the wound clean and free of debris. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Add a comment to Princess's experience

Was this experience helpful?

icon-helpfulCreated with Sketch.icon-helpful-whiteCreated with Sketch. Helpful icon-not-helpfulCreated with Sketch.icon-not-helpful-whiteCreated with Sketch. Not Helpful
Comment
Odin
Dachshund
2 Years
Moderate condition
0 found this not helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Swollen ear
Limping
Lethargic
Bruising, not tender

My dog was accidentally slammed in the door by my roommate. He's small, maybe 15lbs. Now he won't put ANY weight on one of his paws, has bruising so dark it's almost black on that paw. He also has bruising on his hips and abdomen and one ear is swollen too. I've pushed gently all over him and he's not wincing. He is lethargic and not at all himself. Is a 48 rest period a good idea or should he go to the vet ASAP?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
402 Recommendations

Given the extent of the bruising I would recommend visiting your Veterinarian as Odin may be in pain, but might not be showing it; dogs are quite stoic and will not show signs of pain and discomfort in some cases. Your Veterinarian will also perform flexion tests on Odin’s legs to make sure that there is ease of movement; additionally given the size of dachshunds, spinal problems are always a possibility. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Add a comment to Odin's experience

Was this experience helpful?

icon-helpfulCreated with Sketch.icon-helpful-whiteCreated with Sketch. Helpful icon-not-helpfulCreated with Sketch.icon-not-helpful-whiteCreated with Sketch. Not Helpful
Comment
Snix
Chihuahua
3 Years
Mild condition
0 found this not helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Bruising, not tender

I came home and noticed a bruise on Snickers belly. Do you suppose it might heal on its own? She doesn't have a hx of bruising and it's only in one spot, about 2inches in diameter and oval shape. I'm wondering if my other dog stepped on her or something.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
402 Recommendations

Bleeding under the skin or bruising is something we are all familiar with but in animals it is rarely noticed due to all the hair, but easily visible on the abdomen. A single bruise shouldn’t be of much concern, it should be monitored until it has disappeared; the body will break it down and absorb it back. Until then look out for any other symptom of something more malicious like blood in the urine or faeces, nosebleeds, lethargy, pale gums, swollen lymph nodes or any other worrying symptom; if you notice any of these or the bruise doesn’t disappear, visit your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Hi i have 7 rescue dogs and one of my dogs was attacked by 2 others of mine and today all around hes genitals is bruised and purple its quit a large injury, im concerned becouse of were it is, will this just clear up on its own, i have no money to take him vets as am on benafits, i have no spaces left on pdsa so cant take him there, iv bought 2 muzzles so if they go to attack him again they can wear them for 5mins. Need advice asap please, regards lisa

Woke up yesterday to a small 1 inch circle shape blood clot on my 4 year old heathy chihuahua female named Taloutah. That was at 7am. She looked fine and was eating. So I didn't think much of it. Just said I'll keep a eye on it through out the day. She started to breath weird and was getting tired. And also ate in the morning but at dinner time didn't wanna look at her food. That's a first. I picked her up took her to the vet. They took blood said I might be a blood clot issue. Handed me a bill for $659 dollars said give her pretozone steroid and see where it goes. Witch my dog was coughing up flemmy blood while we were there. I said what's going on. He said it's normal. Long story short. She dies 4 hours later in my lap driving her to another vet. I'm so lost for words right now. From being healthy and happy running around to wake up to a small blood clot to her death in one day. Great start to a new year.😪😪😪😪😪

Add a comment to Snix's experience

Was this experience helpful?

icon-helpfulCreated with Sketch.icon-helpful-whiteCreated with Sketch. Helpful icon-not-helpfulCreated with Sketch.icon-not-helpful-whiteCreated with Sketch. Not Helpful
Comment
Buster
Chihuahua
11 Years
Moderate condition
0 found this not helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Redness

My dog was attacked now his chest is bruised and hw whines when touche

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
402 Recommendations

Bleeding under the skin is the same as bruising, usually the capillaries rupture during a traumatic event and the blood clots stopping the bleeding and is eventually broken down and absorbed back in to the body. In dogs with coagulopathies, low platelet count or on certain medications; the blood may not clot and may continue bleeding. I would recommend you visit your Veterinarian as Buster has suffered some trauma and may require pain management and some symptomatic therapy. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Add a comment to Buster's experience

Was this experience helpful?

icon-helpfulCreated with Sketch.icon-helpful-whiteCreated with Sketch. Helpful icon-not-helpfulCreated with Sketch.icon-not-helpful-whiteCreated with Sketch. Not Helpful
Comment

Bleeding Under the Skin in Dogs Treatment Experiences

Jazzy
Dog

Has Symptoms

Wound

Hi there I would like to share my Maltese girl had a bruising red and purple and diagnosed here with petechia , very low platelets that causes her to bleed under the skin ... That's pretty scary .

Have a veterinary treatment question?

Ask a veterinarian and get a free answer in 24 hours.

The statements expressed are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified by your local veterinarian.