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October 4, 2023

Many of us likely think that post operative bleeding in dogs happens right away, but it turns out, in some breeds, some pretty scary post-op bleeding can happen 24 or even 48 hours later. Yikes!

post operative bleeding in dogs graphic

Which Dog Breeds are Most Likely to Develop Post Operative Bleeding?

It makes you wonder what's going on with sighthounds, but like other risks already discussed such as MDR1 mutations in dogs and CYP2B11 deficiency in dogs, post operative bleeding in dogs is most common in greyhounds, Irish wolfhounds, and other sighthounds.  Yet, while research technically has not yet found a breed-based predisposition, there are theories about associated genetic mutations.

Such post-op bleeding is deemed "significant and occasionally life threatening" with studies estimating incidence rates, where even the low end is scary:

  • 26% for routine spay / neuter surgery in dogs at risk 
  • as much as 67% for leg amputations for bone cancer in dogs at risk 

The official term for it is delayed postoperative hemorrhage (DEPOH).

We never did DNA tests on our ancient dog Ginko, but based on his appearance (and response to anesthesia), we think he carried Lab + Greyhound genes. Thankfully, other than a bout with hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (pooping blood), he never had weird post-op bleeding. 

post operative bleeding in dogs graphic of greyhound

What Causes Post Operative Bleeding in Dogs?

Currently, clinical evidence seems to point to a bigger response from a normal process that deals with blood clots (called fibrinolysis) in certain dogs and breeds of dogs. They don't know yet which gene relating to this bodily process may be affected, but at some point, if/when a gene mutation gets identified, then we could use genetic testing to know for sure which dogs are at risk for post-op bleeding. Plus, we could avoid giving other dogs (not at risk) meds to prevent the bleeding issues that come with their own risks such as thromboembolism (a blood clot that breaks loose and roams around the circulatory system). 

What Treatments are Used for Dogs at Risk of Post-Op Bleeding?

Epsilon aminocaproic acid (EACA) is an antifibrinolytic drug that improves blood cot strength. That helps prevent excessive post-op bleeding in dogs. typically, the EACA is given every 8 hours for 5 days, starting on the day of surgery. Doses based on the dog's weight range from 500 mg to 1,000 mg. 

Is It Normal for a Dog to Bleed After Surgery?

A little bit, maybe, but not a lot. If you see excessive bruising or swelling really anywhere on your dog's body post-op, contact your veterinarian immediately and/or go to the veterinary emergency room for help. 

About the Author Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related.

I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

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