Nosebleed in cats: what it means and what to do

It is one of the most common veterinary emergencies, but we need to know how to best deal with it: here’s what to do when a cat’s nosebleed comes out

It can happen that our cat loses a nosebleed: if it does, we must not panic and dramatize.

The causes behind this phenomenon are many and range from a particularly intense itch to more serious diseases. Even if in most of the times there is no need to worry, it is still good to know how to behave in order to deal with the situation in the best way and not to put the cat’s life at risk.

We talk about it in this article!

Epistaxis in cats: what is it?

Epistaxis is precisely the loss of blood from the nose. In cats it can be superficial and involve scratches and wounds caused by fights or games with their peers: this is frequent in felines that often leave the house and to solve the problem you could make him stay inside more often or neuter him to reduce aggression towards other animals.

Furthermore, it is necessary to check that the wounds really heal completely, because they could hide a dangerous infection that must be treated properly. If they are small superficial wounds, they will stop bleeding and only dry blood will remain on the nose.

It can also occur due to damaged vessels in the nasal mucosa, due to a greater fragility of the capillaries or an unspecified tendency to bleeding.

It can be acute, i.e. sudden, or chronic, i.e. repeated over time. The consequences are different and depend on the cause of the bleeding, in order to identify it it is important to determine whether the flow of blood occurs from one nostril (it is unilateral) or from both (it is bilateral).

Now let’s see in detail the possible causes of nosebleeds in cats.

Causes and symptoms

  • Trauma and injuries: the cat loses nosebleeds after a fall or after taking a blow on the muzzle;
  • foreign bodies in the nose;
  • Cat poisoning: the ingestion of some toxic substances or poisons can cause nasal, anal or oral bleeding;
  • dental disease, such as tooth root abscess;
  • nasal tumors;
  • infections (bacteria, fungi, parasites);
  • some blood diseases, such as bleeding disorders, too much viscous blood.

Symptoms of epistaxis are as follows:

  • Sneezing, accompanied by a splash of blood
  • nasal swelling;
  • fractured teeth;
  • black stools, caused by ingestion of blood;
  • loss of appetite in cats;
  • noisy breathing;
  • bad smell from the mouth or nose

Therefore, when a cat’s nosebleeds come out, the first thing to do is take him to the vet immediately to find the reason for the bleeding.

Diagnosis and treatment

The vet will take a medical history of the cat and perform a physical exam, which can lead to a quick diagnosis thanks to tests, especially in the case of bleeding from trauma. An oral and nasal examination under anesthesia will allow you to check both the mouth, the throat, and the nasal cavities.

In addition to this there may be other diagnostics, such as:

  • complete blood count (CBC or complete blood count) to identify anemia, inflammation, infection, or a low platelet count;
  • biochemical test to evaluate the general health of the pet and the functionality of vital organs.
  • urinalysis to check kidney function and the presence of any infection
  • general and specific blood clotting tests, such as a platelet count, von Willebrand factor  (von Willebrand disease is an inherited bleeding disorder);
  • serological tests for infectious diseases, in particular fungal diseases and diseases caused by rickettsiae, ticks;
  • nasal and dental radiographs.

If these tests don’t help pinpoint the cause, we will move on to more in-depth examinations, such as:

  • Detailed x-ray of the nasal cavity
  • Computed Tomography (CT)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Rhinoscopy (evaluation of the nasal cavity with a fiber optic endoscope) and nasal biopsy
  • Nasal cavity exploration surgery for definitive diagnosis and treatment prescription.

Treatment is aimed at  stopping the bleeding.

If you can’t take your cat to the vet, here are some helpful tips:

  •  first of all try to keep calm and transmit tranquility to the cat, to prevent it from getting nervous: you need to minimize its stress
  • if your cat is particularly nervous, you may need to keep your cat in a confined or small space, such as the bathroom or pet carrier, to prevent it from getting hurt more
  • you can put on the Elizabethan collar to prevent it from scratching and hurting yourself even more
  • try to understand the exact origin of the blood loss
  • apply ice wrapped in a clean cloth or make cold compresses to narrow the vessels and decrease bleeding.
  • if the point from which the blood comes out is visible, it is advisable to dab it gently and with a sterile gauze
  • if bleeding wounds are found on the nose, they will need to be cleaned and disinfected
  • if the bleeding does not decrease, or the cause is not determined, bring cat to the vet as soon as possible

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