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First Aid for External Bleeding in a Dog

Dogs that are bleeding need first aid.

If your dog is bleeding, you will need to perform some first aid before transporting her to the veterinarian.

Please note, this article is for external, visible bleeding. If you suspect or would like to learn more about internal bleeding, visit this article: "First Aid for Internal Bleeding in a Dog."

First Aid for a Dog with External Bleeding

The first thing to know when dealing with a bleeding dog is that you should approach her with caution. Even your own, sweet-tempered dog may bite you out of fear or pain.

  • Place a muzzle, which you should have in your well-stocked canine first aid kit, on the dog for gentle restraint. If you don't have a muzzle, you can make one.
  • Next, use clean gauze to apply direct pressure to the bleeding area. If it soaks through, do not remove it, but continue to place more clean gauze on top of it.
  • If the bleeding doesn't slow down, apply pressure with your hand between the wound and the dog's heart.
  • If possible, elevate the bleeding area.
  • Do not use a tourniquet on your dog unless it is an absolute last resort. A tourniquet cuts off the blood supply to an area quite effectively and can easily result in permanent damage to a limb and the need for amputation. If you absolutely must use a tourniquet, use a piece of roll gauze, and don't tie a knot. Tie a bow, and release it every few minutes for a couple of seconds. Even doing this, be aware that permanent damage may result from tourniquet use.

  • Do not use a tourniquet unless it is a last resort (see box).
  • Apply a bandage snuggly around the wound. Keep the gauze you already there in place, cover it with more clean gauze, and then use roll gauze around the entire thing. Use self-adhesive bandage over that, then tape in place.

Get your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Call ahead if you can, so the staff will be ready to assist you as soon as you arrive.

Learn about first aid for other common canine emergencies here: "First Aid for Dogs: An Overview."

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