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How to Stop Heavy Bleeding in Cats & Dogs

How to Stop Heavy Bleeding in Cats & Dogs

For any pet emergency, you should get to a veterinarian right away. And in some emergency situations, like when your dog or cat is bleeding, you may need to provide some first aid until you can get there for treatment. Here, our Mechanicsburg emergency veterinarians explain. 

External or internal bleeding can occur in a cat or dog. External bleeding is visible and usually results from a skin wound. Internal bleeding, on the other hand, is difficult to detect and necessitates the services of an experienced 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 cat or dog is bleeding?

A vast amount of blood loss over a short period of time may cause shock in your dog or cat. Blood loss of as little as two teaspoons per pound of body weight is enough to cause shock.

The shock causes an increased heart rate and low blood pressure in a dog or cat. They may have pale, white gums and rapidly breathe. If untreated, organ systems shut down, causing permanent damage or even death to the dog or cat.

My female dog is bleeding. Is this an issue?

If you notice blood coming from your dog's vulva, it could be due to trauma, tumors, infections, anatomic abnormalities, blood clotting disorders, or urinary tract conditions. Unless your dog is known to be in heat and there are no other issues, she should be evaluated by a veterinarian.

How do I help my cat or dog if they are bleeding externally?

The goal of all first aid protocols for a bleeding cat or dog is the same: to control blood loss. While you can't stop internal bleeding on your own, you can control external bleeding from a wound or cut until you can get to your veterinarian.

Direct Pressure

To help control external bleeding, place a compress of clean cloth or gauze directly over your dog or cat'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 severely bleeding wound is on the foot or leg, and there is no evidence 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 helps to reduce blood pressure in the injured area and slow the bleeding. 

Pressure on the Supplying Artery

If external bleeding persists after applying direct pressure and elevation, use a finger to apply pressure to the wound's main artery. Apply pressure to the femoral artery, which is located on the inside of the thigh, for example, if there is severe bleeding on the back leg. Apply pressure to the brachial artery, which is located on the inside of the upper front leg, if there is severe bleeding on the front leg.

How do I help my cat or dog if they are bleeding internally?

Internal bleeding occurs 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:

  • Pale to white gums appear pale to white
  • Cool legs, ears, or tail
  • Coughing up blood or having difficulty breathing
  • Unusually subdued; progressive weakness and sudden collapse 
  • Painful belly when it is touched

If your pet is bleeding externally, or you suspect any internal bleeding, contact our Mechanicsburg emergency veterinarians and get to our hospital right away.

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.

Contact Us

Contact (717) 796-2334