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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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First Aid Condition

First aid health condition




Condition Overview

Bleeding often looks more serious than it really is. Clotting usually begins in 60 - 90 seconds, and a scab will form after a few hours. Some of the safest wounds, in fact, are those that bleed heavily at first, because the blood flushed away the debris and bacteria.


Symptoms are obvious upon examination.


There can be many causes for bleeding.


Diagnosis can be made by examining the wounds and attempting to locate the precipitating cause.


Bleeding from shallow cuts and scrapes can be stopped with simple first aid. Deeper wounds always require medical attention, even if you are able to stop the bleeding at home.

  1. Control the bleeding - Don't wash wounds that are bleeding heavily, as it will make it harder for clots to form. You will need to control the bleeding first. Apply a gauze pad or a clean piece of cloth to the wound. If these are not available, you can use a sanitary napkin, which just happens to be perfect because the material is absorbent. If blood soaks through the pad, simply add another pad to the top of the current and continue pressure. Do not remove the first pad. The bleeding should stop in 5 minutes or less.

    When you can't stop bleeding with finger pressure along, you'll need to apply a pressure bandage. With the original pad still in place, wrap it with several layers of roll gauze, an elastic bandage like an Ace bandage, or even duct or masking tape. The pressure bandage should be firm but not too tight. If you can't easily slip the end of a cotton swab under the bandage, it is probably too tight. For small pets, cover the absorbent pad with plastic wrap like Saran Wrap and keep pressure on the pad.
  2. Check for signs of shock - severe injury often causes shock, which makes the organs shut down from lack of oxygen. A pet in shock acts weak or woozy. His eyelids droop, and he may have a pale tongue or gums. Shock can kill a pet in as little as 10 - 20 minutes, and he will need immediate veterinary care to survive.
    • If signs of shock are present, wrap the dog in a blanket to keep him warm - this can slow down the shock process
    • Drive directly to the animal clinic
    • You can also put a drop or two of Karo syrup or honey on your pet's gums to help keep him conscious.

  3. Raise the injured body part - Elevating the injured area will help slow bleeding. This isn't essential, however. In fact, it can be harmful if a bone has been broken. If your pet holds one of his limbs in an awkward way or doesn't move it at all, if one of his limbs dangles at a strange angle, if he seems to be in extreme pain when moving, or if you can feel his bone crunch as he moves a limb, he may have a broken bone and needs to see the vet right away.

  4. If your pet's ears are bleeding - Ears have a vein near the surface that can bleed a lot. Since pets shake their head when an ear is injured, the bleeding gets worse. To put pressure on the ears, first apply an absorbent pad or cloth. Cut a length from a pair of panty hose and slip it over your pets head behind the ears. Next, move the panty hose forward over the absorbent bandage to hold it in place. Make sure his eyes and mouth are not covered. You are basically wrapping the dogs head around the area of the ears.


Finding the cause for the incident will lead you in a path toward prevention.


Whether or not a wound requires stitches, it is essential to keep it clean for at least 1 week after the accident. Sponge off discharge and crust from around the wound edges several times a day. Do not disturb the wound itself unless directed by your veterinarian. Follow this with an application of an antibiotic ointment like Neosporin.

Dogs and cats instinctively lick their wounds, and in some cases, this can reduce the risk of infection. More than a few gentle licks can be too much. Pets who lick their wounds too much can dramatically slow the healing time. If the area around the wound seems moist or wet and the scab never seems to dry out, you may need to fit your dog with an Elizabethan collar, which will keep him from licking the wounds.

NOTE: The first-aid tape that is used to secure bandages on people can be a nightmare for pets because of their fur. When assembling a bandage for your pet use specific stretchable bandaging tape such as Vetrap Bandaging Tape. This tape is specifically designed to stick to itself, rather than the pets fur.

Show Sources & Contributors +


Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

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