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 has to be addressed by a skilled veterinarian.
No matter the type of bleeding you should bring your pet to the vet as quickly as possible. In addition to this, every pet owner should also know how to control or stop bleeding, even if it’s just long enough to bring your furry friend to the vet.
When Cats & Dogs Lose Too Much Blood
If your cat or dog loses a vast amount of blood over a short period of time 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.
How To Stop External Bleeding On a Cat or Dog
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 see your veterinarian.
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 anxieties which will, in turn, make them more stressed.
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. You can put a muzzle on your pet to prevent them from biting you or/and have a friend or family member help restrain your pet while you apply first aid.
You can also provide your furry friend with blankets and towels to help keep them warm and dry.
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 to apply firm but gentle pressure. Do not remove the cloth or gauze. If there are no compress materials available, a bare hand or finger will 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 The Bleeding Won't Stop
If you aren't able to stop the bleeding after 10 to 15 minutes don't wait, get your furry friend to your primary care or emergency vet as quickly as possible. Continue to apply pressure to your cat or dog's wound while you transport them.
Signs of Internal Bleeding in Cats & Dogs
Internal bleeding happens inside the body and isn't as obvious as external bleeding from a wound. However, there are some signs of external bleeding you can watch for, which can include:
- Cool legs, ears, or tail
- Pale to white gums that appear pale
- 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 because this is considered an emergency that has to be addressed straight away.