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Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation: DIC in Dogs

DIC is a cascade of blood clotting abnormality in dogs.

DIC is a complicated condition during which a dog's system of blood clotting and clot-dissolving becomes dysregulated (goes haywire). It happens as a result of some other severe, generalized condition in the body. The dog begins both abnormally bleeding and clotting, which is ultimately catastrophic.

The bleeding part of DIC causes hemorrhaging in a variety of tissues throughout the body. The abnormal clotting part of DIC leads to capillary blockage and, ultimately, organ dysfunction.

DIC is often referred to as a cascade disorder. That means the condition intensifies, becoming a vicious bleeding, over-clotting, capillary-blocking, tissue-dying wave.

Causes of DIC in Dogs

DIC occurs secondarily to some other major problem in the body. In fact, DIC is common during the final stages of a variety of fatal conditions. Some of the conditions during which DIC is commonly seen in dogs are:

Signs of DIC in Dogs

The signs noted in dogs with DIC are usually those that are related to whatever original condition is going on. Additionally, tiny bright red spots can be seen on the skin and mucous membranes and abnormal bleeding from puncture sites or internally.

Diagnosis of Canine DIC

When a veterinarian suspects DIC, bloodwork will likely be performed. A low platelet level is commonly seen, and when a blood smear is examined under the microscope, there will be more large platelets than usual. That means that the body is producing extra platelets faster to make up for the DIC condition. Evidence of broken and destroyed platelets may also be visible on a blood smear.

Additional blood work could show evidence of organ dysfunction, and it may also reflect whatever the primary condition is.

Special tests for clotting function, PT and APTT times, may be longer than usual.

Treatment of DIC in Dogs

Treatment of DIC involves aggressively fighting the underlying condition that triggered it. If the initial situation is not resolved, the DIC is not likely to get better.

Fluid therapy is usually necessary. Heparin may be used to help combat the abnormal clotting part of DIC, but that is controversial. Often, plasma infused with heparin is given.

Corticosteroids may be used to combat the effects of shock.

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