It can be really scary when your dog is bleeding, but preparation can help. Just like in human first aid, knowing what to do in an emergency is the key to success. These top tips are sure to help you prepare for what to do if the worst happens!
If your dog is bleeding, start by applying pressure on the wound with sterile gauze. For light bleeding, use firm pressure until the bleeding stops. If it doesn’t stop in 5 minutes, take your dog to the vet immediately. For heavy bleeding, call ahead to your nearest veterinary hospital to let them know you’re coming. Maintain gentle pressure on the wound until you reach the hospital.
Safety First: Avoiding Dog Bites
Please beware that dogs that are in pain or scared may bite, even if they are usually friendly. Understand the warning signs your dog may be giving you, such as lip licking, yawning, baring teeth, and growling. If you have any doubt whether your dog will let you treat them, get them to the vets as soon as possible so that sedatives and treatment can be given.
When is dog bleeding an emergency?
Of course, the first step to treating bleeding in dogs is to recognize when it is serious. You should attend the vet as an emergency if your dog’s wound is spurting blood, if your dog’s behavior changes, if the blood is coming as a steady stream (rather than drips), if your dog has lost a lot of blood, or if you can’t stop the bleeding after 5 minutes. Don’t forget that small wounds can be serious too!
How much blood can a dog lose before it is serious?
Small amounts of blood loss are not dangerous, but larger amounts can cause shock and death. In general, your dog can lose about 1/10th of his blood volume without suffering any ill effects. In a 50-pound (22 g) dog, this is about 190 ml – around ¾ cup. Any more than this, and your dog could be in danger – you should attend the nearest open veterinary hospital, even if you’ve managed to stop the bleeding.
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Signs your dog has lost too much blood
Other than guessing how much blood your dog has lost, there are also some signs of blood loss in dogs you should be aware of.
If your dog has been bleeding, you should look at their gums – they should be a healthy salmon-pink, not pale or grey. If your dog naturally has black gums, you can look at their inner eyelids instead. If your dog will allow, you can press a finger to your dog’s pink gums until they blanch pale. When you remove your finger, the gum should immediately turn pink again. If this takes any longer than 2 seconds, your dog’s circulation has been affected.
Other signs that your dog has lost a significant amount of blood include:
External Bleeding vs Internal Bleeding
Don’t forget – just because you cannot see bleeding, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Internal bleeding is when your dog bleeds into their abdomen or chest cavity. It is often more serious than the bleeding you can see as it is impossible to assess how much blood has been lost. If you recognize the signs of blood loss and you cannot see where your dog is bleeding from, you should take them to the nearest open or emergency vet immediately.
How to Treat Bleeding in Dogs:
Depending on the seriousness of the wound, you can attempt to stop the bleeding at home, or try to slow the wound from bleeding on the way to the vets. Our step-by-step below explains how.
For small, shallow wounds:
For large or deep wounds:
How do I stop a dog’s quick or claw from bleeding?
It’s common for a dog’s claws to bleed. This can either be immediately after cutting them too short (known as ‘cutting the quick’) or because they’ve broken a claw whilst running or playing. Bleeding claws in a dog make a mess, but they’re rarely serious. Here’s how to stop your dog’s claw from bleeding:
How can I stop a nosebleed in a dog?
It’s not common for a dog’s nose to bleed and you should visit the vet if this is a problem for your dog. However, if you do find yourself in a situation of your dog having a nosebleed, these tips will help.
Essential First Aid Kit Items for Bleeding in Dogs:
If you’re the prepared type, having a first aid kit for your pet is a great idea. Whilst you can buy ready-made first aid kits, they often don’t have all the necessary contents to make life with a dog easier (and safer!). For bleeding, the essential items are:
As with all first aid, being prepared for what to do if your dog is bleeding is the easiest way to a good outcome. Remember, most wounds will require veterinary attention, but hopefully this article will have given you some useful advice to give your dog first aid whilst you get to the clinic.
Featured Image: BetterPhoto, Shutterstock