Von Willebrand’s disease type I (VWDI) is an inherited bleeding disorder affecting many breeds of dog. Dogs affected with VWDI have less than half of the normal level of von Willebrand coagulation factor (vWf), which is an essential protein needed for normal blood clotting. There is variability in the amount of vWf such that not all dogs with two copies of the mutation are equally affected. Dogs that have less than 35% of the normal amount of vWf generally have mild to moderate signs of a bleeding disorder. Affected dogs may bruise easily, have frequent nosebleeds, bleed from the mouth when juvenile teeth are lost, and experience prolonged bleeding after surgery or trauma. Less often, the bleeding may be severe enough to cause death. Due to the variable severity of the disorder, affected dogs may not be identified until a surgery is performed or trauma occurs at which time excessive bleeding is noted. Veterinarians performing surgery on known affected dogs should have ready access to blood banked for transfusions. Most dogs will have a normal lifespan with this condition despite increased blood clotting times.
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