My seven-year-old GSD, Rupert, has just had a nosebleed – his third in two days. Bizarrely, the blood only comes from his left nostril. It only lasts a minute or two, and otherwise he seems fine. Is this something to worry about?

Alison Logan advises…

Any nosebleed, be it from one nostril or both, is a cause for concern – especially if it happens on more than one occasion. I would book an appointment with your vet, so Rupert could be examined. If the bleed is from both nostrils, I’d consider a generalised disorder, such as a clotting problem.

A one-sided or unilateral nosebleed is more suggestive of a process occurring locally within the nose, affecting one of the two nasal passages, although there can come a point where the dividing wall is involved and blood may then come from both nostrils. Possible causes for a unilateral nose blood include a migrating grass awn. I saw a dog last month where the owners saw a grass awn poking out of one nostril, but were unable to remove it. The dog was sneezing and then had a nosebleed.

By the time they arrived at the practice, the sneezing and nosebleed had stopped, and it was assumed that the awn had continued its journey through the nasal passage to the back of the throat and had been swallowed.

In Rupert’s case, the history is less acute. Imaging is needed to assess the nasal passages, starting with radiography and possibly moving to a CT scan if there is suspicion of a mass or other change. A blood sample can be taken to assess general health, clotting capabilities and also Aspergillus fumigatus, which can cause fungal rhinitis and present with sneezing and nosebleeds. The lungworm Angiostrongylus vasorum, transmitted by slugs and snails, can cause clotting disorders so should be ruled out, even with Rupert’s nosebleeds being unilateral, because it is becoming so common and is readily treated.

A more worrying cause would be a growth of some sort. If this is suspected, then a biopsy may be taken to identify the growth and formulate a treatment plan. A one-sided nosebleed should be investigated urgently so effective treatment can be undertaken as early as possible. It is a serious clinical sign and I wish you and Rupert good luck.


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