Von Willebrand's disease (vWD) is the most common inherited bleeding disorder in dogs. Both males and females carry it, and both sexes can be affected.
Bleeding in affected individuals is caused by a deficiency or dysfunction of the von Willebrand factor (vWF) protein, normally found in plasma and critical in the control of bleeding. A dog may be a carrier but not be affected and not show any symptoms. Affected dogs may show symptoms such as spontaneous bleeding from mucous membrane linings of the nose or mouth, or prolonged bleeding from sites of trauma or surgery, or even after clipping a nail too short.
In addition to having been found in more than fifty breeds of dogs, von Willebrand's disease has been seen in mixed-breed dogs, cats, horses, pigs, and human beings. It is not common in Jack Russells, but it has been found.
There is no treatment for controlling von Willebrand's disease, although a drug can be administered to increase clotting during a crisis. Since it is known to be hereditary, any dog with a history of this disease in his background should be tested. Dogs should also be tested for it prior to breeding.
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