Bleeding Disorders in Irish Wolfhounds, a Survey

In early 2019 the Irish Wolfhound Foundation was contacted by Daniel J. Fletcher, PhD, DVM, DACVECC of Cornell University, a specialist in critical care. He had become aware of concerns among Irish Wolfhound owners about post-operative bleeding problems, some of them fatal. The discussion centered around the use of anti-fibrinolytic drugs as a preventative for bleeding. While these drugs are quite safe he had questions about how common this was and whether the bleeding was indeed due to hyperfibrinolysis. He has developed an assay to test for hyperfibrinolysis using thromboelastograhy (TEG). The TEG assays have to be run on whole blood within 30 minutes of collection, but the device is small and transportable.

Dr. Fletcher was wondering if the Irish Wolfhound Foundation would be interested in sponsoring a study to evaluate the causes of bleeding in our breed to determine if we are indeed treating the correct problem. It has been previously documented that some Irish Wolfhounds have vonWillderbrands, disease, a different clotting disorder.

We agreed that the first step was to do a survey and get a better idea of the prevalence of the problem and then to decide how we might go about doing some testing.

A survey was designed by Dr. Fletcher with IWF input and distributed via email lists and Facebook. Here are the preliminary results.

  1. We had a total of 100 responses.
  2. 47 reported having an Irish Wolfhound that experienced unexplained bleeding and 53 reported not seeing unexplained bleeding.
  3. The 47 people reporting unexplained bleeding in Irish Wolfhounds reported a total of 51 affected dogs.
  4. Of the 51 dogs with unexplained bleeding, 29 were within 1 week of surgery.
  5. Of the 51 dogs with unexplained bleeding, 23 died.
  6. Of the 29 surgical bleeds, 19 were spay/neuter surgeries.
  7. Of the 19 spay/neuter surgeries, 17 bled into the abdomen, the rest had bruising or oozing from the incision.

It is to be expected that there are some biases to this data. People who had not experienced the problem were less likely to articipate in the survey. The mortality rate seemed extremely high but that also could be explained in that dogs that had minor symptoms and did not die may not have been noted as having “abnormal” bleeding.

Still it is obvious from this data that the problem is not insignificant.

Dr. Fletcher is currently in the process of writing up a proposal to define a testing program. He expects to be at the Irish Wolfhound Association of New England show as he is a wolfhound owner himself.