Getting to a veterinarian right away should be high priority in any pet emergency. And in some circumstances, such as when your cat or dog is bleeding, you may need to apply some first aid until you can get to our animal hospital for treatment. Our Turlock vets discuss how to apply first aid in this post.
A cat or dog may bleed either internally or externally. While external bleeding is easy to see and often originates from a wound in the skin, internal bleeding is difficult to detect and will require the services of an experienced veterinarian.
Every pet owner should know how to manage or stop bleeding no matter the type, even if it's just long enough to get to your veterinarian.
What happens if my cat or dog loses blood?
When a cat or dog loses a vast amount of blood over a short period of time, this may cause shock. This can occur after losing as little as two teaspoons per pound of body weight, which is why it's imperative to apply first aid and see a veterinarian as soon as possible.
When shock sets in, low blood pressure and increased heart rate result, which can give your pet pale, white gums and cause them to breathe rapidly. Their organs may shut down and permanent damage to their internal system or even death can occur.
How to Stop Bleeding on a Cat or Dog
At Monte Vista Small Animal Hospital, we provide emergency care for sick and injured cats and dogs. We often receive calls from worried pet owners saying, "My dog or cat is bleeding. How can I stop it?"
Whether your pet is bleeding internally or externally, there may be ways to manage or stop the bleeding until you arrive at the vets. We'll explore these below.
With all first aid protocols, your goal will be to control blood loss. While you can't do much to stop internal bleeding on your own, you can control external bleeding from a cut or wound until you get to our animal hospital in Turlock.
All first aid protocols for a bleeding cat or dog have the same goal: to control the blood loss. While you can’t do much to stop internal bleeding on your own, you can control external bleeding from a wound or cut until you reach your veterinarian.
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 additional to applying direct pressure. Elevation helps to reduce blood pressure in the injured area and slow the bleeding.
Pressure to the Supplying Artery
If external bleeding continues 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.
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 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
My female dog is bleeding - what should I do?
In some circumstances, pet owners ask what steps to take to help their bleeding female dog. If this is the case for you and you don't believe your dog is in heat, we strongly recommend bringing your dog to the veterinarian, who will perform a comprehensive physical exam and ask when you first noticed the symptoms.
You'll also be asked about the quality and quantity of the bleeding. For example, is the blood thick, thin or accompanied by other discharge? Is she spotting or hemorrhaging? A vaginal swab test may be done to test for bacterial infections related to vaginitis or urinary tract infection. The veterinarian may also collect tissue samples from your dog's vulva to determine whether any tumors are present.
If a tumor is found, X-ras or CT scans may be ordered to assess size, location and potential metastases. Surgery is usually recommended to remove the uterus, ovaries and tumor. Radiation and chemotherapy may also be suggested to kill any hidden cancer cells and prevent the recurrence of tumors.