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How To Help a Bleeding Dog

When your dog is injured and loses too much blood, it can go into shock. Our Yucaipa vets share how to stop your dog's bleeding until you can see a vet.

Bleeding In Dogs

It can be frightening to see your dog bleeding and in pain on the outside of the wound, but the bleeding you can't see can be more dangerous (internal bleeding cannot be seen from the outside). While all bleeding (especially in large amounts) is cause for concern and should be treated as soon as possible by your primary care veterinarian or an emergency veterinarian, internal bleeding in the chest or abdomen can be fatal. As a result, if your dog has been in an accident, has been injured, or is visibly bleeding, you should take them to a veterinarian so they can assess the severity of the wound and treat it appropriately, as well as check for additional damage such as internal bleeding and prevent or treat any infections that may be 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, their 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 suffering from foot bleeding? Wrap the wound in a clean towel or gauze and apply constant firm but gentle pressure to allow a blood clot to form for 10 to 15 minutes. Minor cuts and scrapes will stop bleeding more quickly than deeper wounds. Bring your dog to the nearest emergency vet if the bleeding does not stop after 10 to 15 minutes. Additionally, if your dog walks on their paw, the bleeding may resume.

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, 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 your dog's bleeding is caused by a broken nail, 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, cover the nail with flour or baking soda. You can also put the tip of their nail in a bar of soap to help stop the bleeding. Then, as you take your dog to the vet, wrap his or her foot in a towel or gauze.

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 is 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 their 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.

If Your Dog is Bleeding From the Butt

While many dogs go through life with no health issues associated with anal glands, others can be plagued with recurring anal sac diseases such as impactions or abscesses. When the dog's anal sacs become plugged they are said to be impacted. 

When the dog's anal sacs become impacted, the fluid within the impacted sacs thickens and the sacs become swollen and sore, making bowel movements painful for your dog. Blocked anal sacs provide an ideal breeding environment for bacteria. When your dog's anal glands become impacted, abscesses may form as a result of bacteria traveling up from the feces and entering your pup's anal sacs, causing a buildup of pus.

Anal gland abscesses in dogs appear as swollen red and painful areas on either side of your dog's anus. Untreated anal abscesses could result in spreading infection and severe damage to your pup's rectum or anus. If the abscesses burst they will release a greenish-yellow or bloody fluid. Contact your vet immediately if this is the case.

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 vets in Yucaipa as quickly as possible for urgent care.

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