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Von Willebrands Disease | German Shepherd

Von Willebrands Disease in German Shepherd dogs is caused by primarily genetic factors. Therefore, potential pet owners looking at breeders should be sure that their breeders are reputable to avoid the chance of taking home a dog with this disease. Von Willebrands disease is characterized by a lack of a particular clotting factor, known as “Von Willebrands Factor,” which leads in turn to the dog's blood being unable to clot in the case of an injury or accident, which may eventually result in a German Shepherd dog “bleeding out” following what would otherwise have been a relatively minor traumatic incident.

If your dog displays excessive bleeding after injuries disproportionate to the accident received, your German Shepherd dog may be suffering from von Willebrands disease. The blood of the dog fails to clot within what could be considered a “normal” time frame and instead bleeds out extensively. Dogs may also exhibit blood in their stool, a tendency towards nose-bleeds, and/or uncharacteristic levels of blood in their urine. While Von Willebrands disease is not fatal on its own, it leads to increased risk of fatalities following surgery or minor accidents.

While Von Willebrands disease is not curable, it is treatable. Blood transfusions from healthy dogs are a common way of replacing the blood lost during hemophiliac episodes in German Shepherd dogs. Also used is hormone replacement therapy for that rather large percent of German Shepherd dogs suffering from thyroid deficiency. Finally, the drug desmopressin acetate (DDAVP) , has been posited to slow or stop bleeding during a hemophiliac episode, but its long-term effects are still under debate.

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