Dealing With an Animal Bleeding From the Nose
For people, nose bleeding is one of those uncomfortable things that can happen to you. Half the time it occurs when it is very inconvenient. Let’s say at a party, while you are sleeping or when you are in the kraal milking cows. Whichever way, you can easily soil your clothes or yourself with blood. In animals, nose bleeding is not as common but can also be just as uncomfortable and might signify a disease or trauma.
Nose bleeding has a fancy scientific name called epistaxis which is basically the presence of blood at the external nose. Nose bleeding can be attributed to a variety of causes such as trauma to the nose when something hits the nose, nose worms (nasal bots), and foreign things in the nose, abscess, cancerous growth, snake bite, some poisonings and diseases especially in the trachea and lungs and anthrax. Sometimes excessive sneezing or coughing can result in nose bleeding as well. All animals are susceptible to get nose bleeding.
It is usually not a big deal to see a cow with a bloody nose, but we have to distinguish between nose bleeding caused by a trauma and the one that is a sign of an infectious disease. If nose bleeding was caused by trauma, you might notice that is only one nose affected, but you should be more worried when bleeding is from both nostrils and the blood is running.
Usually, nose bleed that comes as a result of a disease especially from the trachea you will notice that it usually doesn’t run profusely, but rather trickles and dries. It is generally accompanied with sneezing, and without frothing. However, bleeding that comes from the lungs such as in pneumonia in cattle or Bovine Respiratory Disease Complex, it occurs in from both nostrils, is bright red, frothy, and goes together with coughing.
For emergency treatment, it is important to keep the animal quiet. In most cases, the bleeding will stop spontaneously. The first aid done by most farmers is to put cold water or ice over the nose that is bleeding and to keep the head help up. Sometimes you might have to tie the animal to a pole with the head held high. Applying a cotton swab or a soft cloth soaked in water soluble gel in the bleeding nose might also help to curb minor cases. In serious, persistent cases the animal might need blood transfusion, just like it is with people. Treatment is usually unsuccessful, but might include antibiotics for infectious disease apart from the good nursing care.
Treatment is determined by what caused the nose bleeding in the first place. Trauma to the nasal cavities does not usually require any treatment because the bleeding will stop on its own. But if nose worms were the cause, then it is important to deworm the animal. Similarly, removing foreign bodies from the nasal passages or airway will usually help resolve nose bleeding brought about by their presence. A blood sample might be necessary to determine an infectious disease or blood poisoning.
In general, an animal can lose a lot of blood and still survive, but in cases of persistent nose bleeding, it is better to consult a veterinarian. Otherwise, the animal might lose significant amount of blood which can lead to the blood pressure to go down and also possible anemia.
As a word of caution, it is important to examine an animal with bleeding nose, whether there is presence of blood elsewhere such as in the feces, the mouth et cetera, which can assist the veterinarian in diagnosing the cause of the bleeding. For example, blood oozing from the nose and other natural orifices such as the mouth, the anus and even the eyes can signify acute anthrax. And especially if a lot of animals start dying quickly and are showing bleeding from all these natural openings, then don’t touch the infected animals or carcasses and a veterinarian should be immediately notified since anthrax infection is dangerous and can be transmitted from animals to people as we have discussed in a previous article.
As a way to prevent nose bleeding in farm animals, every farmer should keep to the general strategies of preventing diseases in your herd; which are to keep good hygiene, remove any hazards that might pose risk of injuries to animals, stick to recommended vaccination and deworming programs and to make sure the nutrition of the animals is adequate. It is also advisable to be cautious and wear gloves and wash your hands and exposed skin thoroughly after handling an animal with nose bleeding. You never know what infection is lurking in the blood.