Any emergency involving your pet requires veterinary care right away. And in some emergency situations, like when your dog is bleeding, you may need to provide some first aid until you can get there for treatment. Here, our Stockton veterinarians explain.
Bleeding in a dog can be either external or internal. External bleeding is easy to see and often comes from a wound (e.g. cut, scratch, or bite) in the skin. Internal bleeding, however, is difficult to detect and requires the services of a skilled veterinarian.
No matter the type of bleeding, every pet owner should know how to control or stop bleeding, even if it’s just long enough to get to your veterinarian.
What happens if my dog loses blood?
If your dog loses a lot of blood in a short amount of time, they might go into shock - in fact, blood loss of as little as two teaspoons per pound of body weight is enough to cause shock.
A dog in shock has an increased heart rate and low blood pressure. They may have pale, white gums and breathe rapidly. If left untreated, organ systems shut down and your dog could experience permanent physical damage or even fatal consequences.
How do I help my dog if they are bleeding externally?
All first aid protocols for a bleeding pet have the same goal: to control the blood loss. While you can’t do much to stop internal bleeding on your own, you can control external bleeding from a wound or cut until you reach your veterinarian.
To help control external bleeding, place a compress of clean cloth or gauze directly over your dog's wound. Apply firm but gentle pressure, and allow it to clot. If blood soaks through the compress, place a fresh compress on top of the old one and continue to apply firm but gentle pressure. If there are no compress materials available, a bare hand or finger will work.
If a heavily bleeding wound is on the foot or leg, and there is no obvious sign of a broken bone, gently elevate the leg so that the wound is above the level of the heart, in addition to applying direct pressure. Elevation can help to slow the bleeding by reducing blood pressure in the injured area.
Pressure to the Supplying Artery
If direct pressure and elevation has not stopped the heavy bleeding, you can use a finger to place pressure over the main artery to the wound. For example, if there is severe bleeding on a rear leg, apply pressure to the femoral artery, located on the inside of the thigh. If there is severe bleeding on a front leg, apply pressure to the brachial artery, located on the inside of the upper front leg.
How do I help my dog if they are bleeding internally?
As the name implies, internal bleeding takes place inside the body and is less obvious than external bleeding from a wound. There are, however, some external signs of internal bleeding, which can include any of the following:
- Gums appear pale to white
- Legs, ears and tail are cool to the touch
- Difficulty breathing or coughing blood
- Unusually subdued, can be followed by progressive weakness and sudden collapse
- Reacting with pain to having belly touched
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.