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Help! My Dog (or Cat) is Bleeding!

If your pet is experiencing a health emergency contact your veterinarian immediately, or visit your nearest animal emergency hospital. Below, you will find information that may help you control the bleeding until you reach your vet's office.

How to Stop Heavy Bleeding on a Dog or Cat

If your cat or dog loses a large quantity of blood quickly they may experience shock. Blood loss of as little as two teaspoons per pound of body weight is enough to cause shock. A dog or cat 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 the dog or cat may suffer permanent damage or even death.

External & Internal Bleeding in Pets

Cats and dogs can bleed both internally and externally. External bleeding is easy to spot and often comes from a wound in the skin. On the other hand, internal bleeding is hard to detect and must be addressed by a veterinary professional. If your pet has a wound that is bleeding or has experienced trauma that could lead to internal bleeding, your dog or cat should see a vet as quickly as possible.

Below are a few tips to help control or stop bleeding as you make your way to the veterinarian's office.

How To Stop External Bleeding On Dog or Cat

All first aid protocols for helping a bleeding cat or dog have the same goal: to manage the blood loss. While there isn't much you can do to stop internal bleeding by yourself, you can control external bleeding from a wound or cut until you can get to the vet's office.

Before Applying First Aid

First, you need to do your best to stay calm. Your cat or dog will be able to sense your fears and anxiety which will, in turn, cause them to feel more anxious.

Before starting first aid, it is essential to protect yourself. Even the calmest cats and dogs can react negatively to those trying to help them, such as by biting, scratching, and struggling. Contact your veterinarian's office for advice on how to perform first aid safely on your pet. In some cases, a muzzle may be recommended for dogs.

Put Direct Pressure On The Wound

To help control external bleeding, place a 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 applying firm but gentle pressure. Do not remove the cloth or gauze. If there are no compress materials available, a bare hand or finger may work.

Elevate The Limb

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.

Apply Pressure to The Supplying Artery

If external bleeding continues and won't stop after you have used direct pressure and elevation, 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.

If Bleeding Won't Stop

If you are unable to stop the bleeding after 10 to 15 minutes don't wait, get your pet to your primary care or emergency vet as quickly as possible. Continue to apply pressure to your cat or dog's wound while you have someone safely drive you there.

Signs of Internal Bleeding in Cats & Dogs

Internal bleeding happens inside the body and isn't as obvious as external bleeding from a wound. If your dog or cat has experienced trauma such as being hit by a car or falling from a height, it is essential to seek veterinary care even if they seem fine at first. Internal bleeding can be fatal. Signs of internal bleeding - when they do occur - can include any of the following:

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

If you suspect your cat or dog is bleeding internally, call your veterinarian or an emergency vet as quickly as possible. Internal bleeding is a veterinary emergency that has to be addressed straight away.

Bleeding & Your Female Dog's Heat Cycle

When your female dog reaches maturity and is ready to begin breeding she will go into 'heat'. At this time you will notice a number of changes in her behavior. She may try to escape your home in search of males, urinate more frequently or be fidgety and nervous. During her heat cycle, your female dog may bleed or have blood-tinted discharge for about 3 - 5 days. The bigger the dog, the more blood there is likely to be. This may be a little alarming, particularly for pet parents who were unaware of their dog's reproductive cycle. Vet's often get calls from concerned pet parents saying 'Help, my female dog is bleeding!'. This is completely normal. However, if puppies are not in your plan for the future it is important to keep your female dog safely away from any unneutered male dogs in your neighborhood. 

Getting your female dog spayed can prevent future heat cycles. Speak to your veterinarian about getting your dog spayed. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. Always follow your doctor's advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms. 

If your dog or cat is bleeding, contact Oakwood Animal Hospital right away for urgent care!

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Oakwood Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Oakwood companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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