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Blood Clots in Dogs; Types and Symptoms

Blood clots in dogs occur most often in the lungs, heart and limbs, forming when blood cells clump together. Your dog may develop a blood clot if he has an underlying medical problem, such as cancer, heart disease, heartworms, a blood infection or a liver or intestinal disease.

Common Types of Blood Clots in Dogs

Blood clots can occur anywhere in the body but are more common in some areas than others:

Blood Clots in the Brain

If the blood clot develops in the brain, it can lead to stroke and neurological symptoms that come on suddenly. Symptoms include;

  • Drunken gait
  • Head pressing
  • Head tilting
  • Loss of coordination
  • The use of eye reflexes is lost
  • Loss of facial reflexes
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Weakness 

Blood Clots in the Heart

This is one area where the degree of blood flow restriction is especially important for determining symptoms. Patients with large obstructions are at risk for more serious symptoms. Clots go through the heart but don’t commonly lodge there. Symptoms include;

  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hind leg weakness
  • Leg pain
  • Pale or blue pads or nail beds
  • Paralysis
  • Vomiting

Blood Clots in the Lungs

If a blood clot lodges in an artery of your dog’s lungs, it prevents oxygenated blood from getting to the lungs. This condition is called pulmonary thromboembolism. Pulmonary thromboembolism is usually fatal. In some cases, the pet can recover with rest and oxygen therapy to allow your vet to treat the underlying cause of the blood clot.

Common symptoms include;

  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Fatigue
  • Inability to sleep
  • Increased respiration 
  • Pale gums

Blood Clots in the Limbs

If a clot forms in a dog’s limbs, you’ll see the dog somewhat suddenly lose the ability to use one or more limbs. Often, the affected limb(s) will feel cold to the touch because of the decrease in blood flow. Common symptoms include;

  • Cold limb or limbs
  • Lameness
  • Pain in limbs

Blood Clots in the Urine

Blood clots in dog urine are usually a sign of something bigger, like kidney disease or an autoimmune disease, to name a couple of examples.

A blood clot in your dog’s urine is not one hundred percent life-threatening as it is, but the seriousness of the issue can only be determined during a thorough analysis of everything going on in your dog’s body.

Symptoms may include;

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Disinterest in food and water
  • Outbursts of paralysis
  • Unusual sleep patterns
  • Shortness of breath and chest pain

Treatment Options for Blood Clots in Dogs

If a blood clot is identified, the dog should receive blood thinners, which could help eliminate the blood clot. A fluid therapy will also be needed to eliminate the blood clot.

A heart or lung blood clot will be treated with oxygen cage therapy.

The dog will have to be under constant supervision, as the blood clot can easily travel in the blood stream and affect the heart or the brain, which can be deadly


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