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First Aid for Bleeding Dogs

First Aid for Bleeding Dogs

It can be very distressing to see your dog bleeding, and if their injury goes unaddressed and your dog loses too much blood, it can go into shock. Here, our Mechanicsburg vets share the steps you should take when your dog starts bleeding, including how you can help stop the bleeding until you can see a veterinarian.

Bleeding In Dogs

It can be scary to see your dog bleeding externally (visible bleeding outside of the wound) and in pain, but the bleeding you can't see can be more dangerous (Internal bleeding can't be seen from the outside). While all bleeding (especially in larger quantities) is cause for concern and should be addressed by your primary care veterinarian or emergency vet as quickly as possible, internal bleeding in the chest or abdomen can be deadly. Therefore, if your dog has been in an accident, injured, or/and is bleeding visibly, you should bring them to a vet so they can assess the severity of the wound and treat it accordingly, as well as check for additional damage such as internal bleeding and prevent or treat any infections developing in the wound. 

What Can Happen When Dogs Bleed? 

A dog can go into shock if it starts bleeding and loses too much blood in a short period of time. Shock symptoms include a rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, rapid breathing, and pale, white gums. After losing as little as two teaspoons of blood per pound, a dog can go into shock.

If your dog's shock isn't treated quickly, its organ systems will start to shut down. This can also result in permanent damage or death.

Before Starting First Aid

When dogs bleed, they are most likely terrified and in pain. As a result, they may bite or scratch anyone around them (even those who are attempting to help). To protect yourself and those around you, you must be cautious and take certain precautions to avoid being bitten and to assist your pup. To prevent biting, you may need to use a muzzle or have a friend or family member restrain your dog while you administer first aid. Remember that even the sweetest dogs can bite when they are in pain.

How To Help Stop Your Dog's External Bleeding

While you cannot stop internal bleeding on your own, you can use first aid to control external bleeding until you can see your veterinarian. Please keep in mind that, while first aid can be useful for managing bleeding, it is not a substitute for veterinary care. If your dog is injured, take them to the vet for an examination and treatment.

Here are the first aid steps you can take when your dog is bleeding:

If Your Dog Is Bleeding From The Paw

Is your dog bleeding from their foot? Wrap the wound in a clean towel or gauze and apply constant firm but gentle pressure for 10 to 15 minutes, to allow a blood clot to form. Minor wounds and scrapes will stop bleeding faster than deeper wounds. If your dog's bleeding doesn't stop after 10 to 15 minutes, bring your dog to the closest emergency vet. Also, if your dog walks on their paw the bleeding may start again.

However, if the wound is on the bottom of the paw pad, you must first check for debris or items lodged in the wound. You can gently remove an object if you can easily grab it with clean tweezers. If there is a lot of loosely embedded small debris, such as gravel, you may be able to remove it by carefully swishing the paw in cool water or gently running water from the hose over the paw. If you can't easily remove the debris or items (or if they're lodged too deeply), leave them alone because you might cause more bleeding, and pain, or worsen the injury.

Only a veterinarian can safely remove deeply lodged objects and debris. To make your dog more comfortable for the object's removal, your vet might sedate your pup.

If the source of your dog's bleeding is a broken nail, you will need to apply a silver nitrate stick, styptic pencil, or cauterizing powder to the nail (you can purchase them from most local pet stores). If you don't have any of these readily available, cover the nail in flour or baking soda. To help stop the bleeding, you may also stick the tip of the nail in a bar of soap. Then proceed to wrap your dog's foot in a towel or gauze as you bring them to the vet. 

If Your Dog Is Bleeding From Their Leg

There is often a significant amount of bleeding when dogs have wounds on their legs, especially if an artery or major vein has been severed. Wrap the wound in a clean towel and apply firm pressure. Elevate the leg above the heart if possible. If the blood soaks through the towel, place another on top. Remove the towel as this may dislodge the clots and worsen the bleeding. Bring your dog to the nearest emergency animal hospital right away.

If the wound looks to be minor, check the site for any foreign bodies. If the foreign items can be reached easily, you can carefully remove them. To remove smaller debris, flush the wound with clean cool water. Then cover the injury with a towel or gauze and take your pooch to the vet.

If Your Dog Is Bleeding From The Torso

Because it can be difficult to keep a towel on a wound on the abdomen wall, you may need to tape it. You can do this by circling the chest and abdomen with three or four strips of tape. Make sure the tape isn't too tight to prevent breathing problems. A bath towel for large dogs and a hand towel for small dogs are also recommended.

If you hear sucking noises when your dog breaths, hold the towel firmly on the wound and take your pooch to an emergency vet immediately. Some injuries to the chest that affect the lungs can be fatal.

If your dog has an object protruding from an abdomen or chest wound, do not remove it. Wrap it carefully in a towel without disrupting the item, and go to your local emergency animal clinic as quickly as possible.

If Your Dog If Bleeding From Their ear

Ears have the tendency to bleed a lot because there are lots of blood vessels around the surface of the skin on the ear flaps. This bleeding becomes worse when dogs shake their heads.

To help control the bleeding, place a piece of gauze or a small face towel on both sides of the ear flap, then fold your pup's ear over the top of its head and secure it tightly. Wrap a piece of tape around the top of your dog's head and under its neck to help keep the gauze or towel in place. However, you must exercise caution to avoid restricting breathing by placing two fingers between your dog's neck and the bandage.

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.

If your dog is bleeding or has been in an accident, contact our emergency vets in Mechanicsburg as quickly as possible for after-hours urgent care.

Walk-in Patients Welcome

At Rossmoyne Animal Emergency Trauma Center you never need an appointment to access our full complement of emergency services. We treat both walk-in patients and referrals for urgent veterinary care.

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