Whenever a body organ starts bleeding, a process is immediately triggered to stop the blood loss. This process is known as haemostasis. For effective management of the bleeding, there has to be a sufficient number of platelets, an adequate quantity of blood clotting proteins (known as factors), and blood vessels that contract well. Whenever a normal injury happens, the wall of the blood vessel affected breaks. The normal response is usually for the blood vessel to constrict and reduce the rate of blood flow, allowing the clotting process to commence. Platelets then move to the bleed site, where specific proteins modify the platelets’ shape from circular to spiny. This enables the platelets to adhere to blood cells, the broken blood vessel wall, and to one another. Other proteins then create long threads known as fibrin. These fibrin threads construct a net that catches and holds together the platelets and blood cells, forming a clot that blocks the cut in the wall of the blood vessel. Once the clot has been produced and stabilized, other proteins step in to halt the coagulation process and ultimately dissolve the clot.
Bleeding disorders can be either congenital or may appear later. Any abnormalities in blood clotting proteins are usually signified by deferred bleeding and bruising deep in the tissues. Defects in the platelets are typically signified by nosebleeds, black stool due to bowels bleeding, prolonged bleeding at injection/surgery sites, and small, shallow bruises.
Blocked arteries that result from irregular clotting could either be due to genetic disorders of anti-clotting proteins, or acquired disorders. Genetic disorders are quite rare compared to acquired clotting diseases.
Blood clotting tests can be useful in determining which animals have defective clotting proteins. Nevertheless, the tests are not quite perceptive, as they can only identify an animal that suffers from a severe deficiency.
Blood Clotting Disorders
Pathologic thrombosis is the abnormal and irregular clotting of blood, which results in clogged-up arteries. Although hereditary blood clotting disorders are more common in humans than animals, there are a number of acquired clotting disorders that occur in animals. Certain diseases in animals have been linked with elevated threat of blood clots. These include kidney disease, overactive adrenal glands, long-term decline in the manufacture of thyroid hormones, and on the odd occasion, immune-mediated hemolytic anemia.
Several kidney diseases lead to a reduction in the anti-clotting protein known as anti-thrombin III. Other problems related to kidney disease include a greater propensity for platelets to cluster together and a decline in the enzyme responsible for dissolving blood clots.
A high cholesterol level has been linked to an increased chance of developing blood clots. Diseases that lead up to this include elevated kidney disease, adrenal gland activity, lack of thyroid hormones, diabetes and swelling of the pancreas.
The most effective treatment for blood clots is diagnosis and treatment of the causal disease, along with giving good supportive care. It is vital that flow of blood to the tissues is maintained. Your veterinarian may recommend drugs to dissolve or avert clot formation. In other situations, the best treatment option may be transfusions.