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What To Do If Your Dog Or Cat is Bleeding Heavily

What To Do If Your Dog Or Cat is Bleeding Heavily

You should never hesitate to head to the vet for any pet emergency. For some situations, like when your dog or cat is bleeding, you may need to provide some first aid until you can get there for treatment. Today, our New Iberia veterinarians explain.

Bleeding in a cat or dog can be either external or internal. External bleeding is easy to see and often comes from a wound in the skin. Internal bleeding, however, is difficult to detect and requires the services of a skilled veterinarian.

No matter the type of bleeding, every pet owner should know how to control or stop bleeding, even if it’s just long enough to get to your veterinarian.

What Happens If My Pet Loses Blood?

A vast amount of blood loss over a short period of time could cause shock in your dog or cat. 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.

External Bleeding In Cats & Dogs

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.

Direct Pressure

To control heavy bleeding from an injury, place a compress of clean cloth or gauze directly over your dog or cat's wound. Apply firm pressure (be gentle!), allowing the blood to clot. If the blood seeps through the compress, apply another clean one on top and continue firm, gentle pressure. In a situation where no compress materials are available, a clean bare hand or finger can suffice until your pet can get veterinary care.


If a leg or foot wound is bleeding heavily without 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 lower the blood pressure in the injured area and slow the bleeding.

Apply Pressure

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 In Cats & Dogs

As the name suggests, internal bleeding takes place inside the body, making it 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 gums (may even appear white)
  • Ear, tail or legs are cool to the touch
  • Coughing up blood or displaying difficulty breathing
  • Unusually low energy; progressive weakness and sudden collapse
  • Painful belly when touched

If your pet is exhibiting any of the above symptoms, contact your primary veterinarian or emergency animal hospital right away. Your canine companion or feline friend requires urgent veterinary care.

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 pet is bleeding externally, or you think they may have internal bleeding, contact our All Creatures Veterinary Hospital veterinarians and get to our hospital right away.

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