Petechia, Ecchymosis, and Bruising in Dogs
Petechia, ecchymosis, and bruising are all identified by skin or mucous membrane discoloration, typically due to injuries that lead to bleeding (hemorrhaging) under the affected area. More specifically, bruising is an injury to the skin, which causes blood vessels to rupture and the discoloration of tissue due to the presence of red blood cells; petechia is a small red or purple spot on the body caused by minor hemorrhaging; and ecchymosis is a purplish patch under the moist tissues of the body (mucous membranes) or under the skin. Petechia, bruises, or ecchymoses may appear suddenly or after a minimal injury.
Symptoms and Types
Other than the skin discoloration or bruising of the mucous membranes related to hemorrhages, there are no specific symptoms associated with petechia and ecchymosis.
Although petechia, ecchymosis, and bruising often occur due to injuries, the following may also cause or make the dog more susceptible to this type of hemorrhaging:
- Immune-mediated condition (drug-induced, idiopathic, or related to neoplasia)
- Bone marrow suppression or diseases (e.g., chemotherapy, lymphoma, estrogen toxicity)
- Rodenticide poisoning
- Congenital or acquired disorders affecting the platelet's ability to adhere to damaged blood vessels
- Vasculitis secondary to infection such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
You will need to give the veterinarian a thorough history of your dog’s health, including the onset and nature of the symptoms. He or she will then perform a complete physical examination, specifically searching for the presence of lesions. Routine laboratory tests include complete blood count, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis.
Blood count results may reveal thrombocytopenia, a blood disease that is one of the most important causes of these hemorrhagic conditions. This is because platelets are essential cells for normal blood clotting, and a significant decline in platelet number may lead to hemorrhages throughout the body. To assess the blood clotting system, the veterinarian will measure the time it takes for the dog's blood to clot. A prolonged clotting time will warrant further investigation. Bone marrow samples are also taken to evaluate the bone marrow functions and diseases.
Biochemistry profile, meanwhile, may indicate liver or kidney disease, depending on the underlying disease. And urinalysis may identify immune-mediated diseases associated with hematuria and proteinuria.
Other laboratory tests include X-rays and ultrasounds. Abdominal X-rays to assess the liver and kidney size and abdominal ultrasounds to identify complications in other organs.
No specific treatment is available for petechiae, ecchymosis, or bruising; it solely depends on the underlying cause. However, in severe cases, your dog may need to be hospitalized, where he will be hydrated and possibly given a blood or platelet transfusion to overcome the crisis.
Living and Management
It is important you do not self-medicate the dog, as it may further exacerbate the problem. Consult a veterinarian and notify him or her if any untoward symptoms, such as subcutaneous hemorrhaging, should occur. Also, minimize the dog's activity level to avoid injury or trauma, which may lead to further bleeding problems.