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Heavy Bleeding in a Dog or Cat that Won't Stop

If your dog or cat is bleeding due to sudden trauma then you will need to know how to handle the situation. Here, our Lacey veterinarians discuss heavy bleeding in cats and dogs and what you can do to help with the bleeding while you get your pet to the nearest animal emergency hospital.

When your pet is bleeding it can either be internal or external. You will be able to spot external bleeding as the wound will be on the surface of the skin. Internal bleeding, however, is difficult to detect and requires the services of a skilled veterinarian.

Regardless of the type of bleeding that your cat or dog is experiencing, you should know what steps to take, even if it’s just long enough to get to your nearest emergency veterinarian.

How can blood loss affect my cat or dog?

When your pet loses a large amount of blood in a short amount of time it can cause a series of effects on their body including shock. Blood loss of as little as two teaspoons per pound of body weight is enough to cause shock.

If your dog or cat goes into shock they will then begin to experience other conditions such as an elevated 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.

How to Manage External Bleeding in Pets

The main goal of first aid for bleeding is to slow the bleeding in your cat or dog. 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.

Apply Direct Pressure

You can help control the external bleeding by placing a clean cloth or compress directly on the 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 you don't have any cloth or compress handy then you can safely use your hand or finger.

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. By elevating the injured limb you can help to reduce the blood pressure which will in turn slow the bleeding.

Put Pressure on the Supplying Artery

If you notice that the bleeding has continued even after you have applied pressure. You can take a finger and place it on the artery that is supplying blood to the area. This pressure will help to slow blood flow entirely for that limb or body part. 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 the front leg, apply pressure to the brachial artery, located on the inside of the upper front leg.

How to Assist Pets That Are Bleeding Internally

If your pet is experiencing internal bleeding then it can be very difficult to tell. If your dog or cat has internal bleeding then you may notice one or more of the symptoms below:

  • 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

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 or cat is bleeding, internally or externally, contact our Lacey veterinarians and get to our hospital right away.

Walk-in Patients Welcome

At Olympia Pet Emergency, you can always access our full complement of emergency services without an appointment. We treat both walk-in patients and referrals for urgent veterinary care.

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