When it comes to bleeding in dogs, sometimes what you can’t see is more dangerous than what you can. While visible bleeding from a cut or broken nail may look scary, internal bleeding in the chest or abdomen can be life-threatening. However, regardless of the source, any significant blood loss is a cause for concern. Fortunately, as a pet owner, you can provide immediate first aid to control bleeding until you can reach a veterinary hospital.
Understanding the Risks of Bleeding in Dogs
When a dog loses a large amount of blood in a short period of time, it can lead to shock. Shock is characterized by an increased heart rate, low blood pressure, pale gums, and rapid breathing. If left untreated, shock can cause organ failure, permanent damage, or even death. Every minute counts, so it’s crucial for pet owners to know how to control bleeding and prevent shock until they can get their dog to emergency care.
Precautions to Take Before Providing Aid
Safety is paramount when handling an injured dog, both for your own protection and the well-being of your pet. Remember that even the most gentle dogs may bite when they are scared or in pain. Take appropriate precautions, such as using a muzzle or having someone restrain the dog, while you administer first aid.
What to Do in Case of Bleeding
While the goal of any first aid for bleeding dogs is to control the blood loss, different techniques are required for internal and external bleeding. While you can’t do much to stop internal bleeding on your own, you can take steps to control external bleeding until you reach a veterinarian.
Bleeding from Paws
To stop bleeding in the paws, wrap the foot in gauze or a small towel and apply constant pressure. Bleeding should stop within 5-10 minutes. If the bleeding is from a broken nail, you can apply a styptic pencil, silver nitrate stick, or cauterizing powder available at pet stores or first aid sections of human pharmacies. Alternatively, you can cover the nail with baking powder, corn starch, or flour, or even stick the tip of the nail into a bar of soap. Remember to keep the foot wrapped as you make your way to the veterinary hospital.
If the foot is bleeding from a cut or torn foot pad, check for debris or foreign objects like glass or metal shards. If you can easily remove the object with tweezers, do so gently. Flushing the paw with cool water or using a gentle stream of water from a hose may help dislodge smaller particles. If debris is deeply lodged, it’s best to leave it alone as attempting to remove it may worsen the injury and cause more bleeding. For firmly or deeply lodged objects, it’s recommended to have your veterinarian remove them under sedation. Apply pressure to the wound with a clean towel to control bleeding and transport your dog to the veterinarian if it doesn’t stop within 10-15 minutes.
Bleeding from Legs
For lacerations on the legs that result in significant bleeding, wrap a clean towel tightly around the wound and apply firm pressure. If possible, raise the leg above the level of the heart. If the towel becomes soaked, don’t remove it. Instead, place another towel on top and continue applying firm pressure. Removing the towel may dislodge clots and worsen the bleeding. Make your way promptly to the veterinary hospital.
For minor cuts on the legs, check for foreign bodies and remove them if easily reachable. Flush the wound with clean water to remove any smaller debris and cover it with gauze or a towel. Keep pressure on the wound by holding the towel in place or taping the gauze around the leg while you transport your dog to the veterinarian.
Bleeding from the Torso
If your dog has a cut on the chest or abdominal wall, it may be challenging to hold a towel in place. In such cases, use tape to secure the towel wrapped around the wound. Ensure the towel isn’t taped too tightly to avoid impairing breathing. For small dogs, a hand towel works well, while a bath towel can be used for larger dogs. If you hear a “sucking” noise as the dog breathes, keep the towel firmly in place and head straight to an emergency hospital. Injuries to the chest involving the lungs can be fatal. If there is an object protruding from the wound, like a stick or arrow, carefully wrap the towel around it without disturbing the foreign object.
Bleeding from Ears
Dog ears tend to bleed a lot due to the presence of many blood vessels near the skin surface. The shaking of their heads exacerbates the bleeding. To control bleeding, place gauze or a small face cloth on both sides of the ear flap. Fold the ear over the top of the dog’s head and hold it firmly in place. You can secure the towel or gauze by wrapping tape around the top of the dog’s head and under the neck. Be cautious not to restrict the dog’s breathing, leaving enough space for two fingers between the bandage and the neck.
Stopping internal bleeding requires veterinary intervention, so it’s important to recognize the signs. Pale gums, shallow or labored breathing, and weakness can indicate internal bleeding, which is often accompanied by shock. If you suspect internal bleeding, transport your dog to the veterinary hospital immediately.
Remember, while these first aid techniques can help control bleeding temporarily, it’s essential to seek professional veterinary care as soon as possible. Always consult a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Safeguard the well-being of your furry friend by having the necessary knowledge and being prepared to act promptly in emergencies.
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