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Heavy Bleeding on a Dog or Cat That Won't Stop

For any pet emergency, you should get to a veterinarian right away. And in some emergency situations, like when your male or female dog or cat is bleeding, you may need to provide some first aid until you can get there for treatment. Here, our South Salem Animal Hospital veterinarians explain. 

External or internal bleeding can occur in a male or female cat or dog. External bleeding is visible and usually results from a skin wound. Internal bleeding, on the other hand, is difficult to detect and necessitates the services of an experienced veterinarian.

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

What happens if my cat or dog loses blood?

A vast amount of blood loss over a short period of time may 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 shock causes an increased heart rate and low blood pressure in a dog or cat. They may have pale, white gums and rapid breathing. If untreated, organ systems shut down, causing permanent damage or even death to the dog or cat.

How do I help my cat or dog if they are bleeding externally?

The goal of all first aid protocols for a bleeding cat or dog is to control the blood loss. While you can't stop internal bleeding on your own, you can control external bleeding from a wound or cut until you can get to your veterinarian.

Direct Pressure

To help control external bleeding, apply a clean cloth or gauze compress directly to your dog or cat's wound. Allow it to clot by applying firm but gentle pressure. If blood soaks through the compress, replace it with a new one and continue to apply firm but gentle pressure. If no compress materials are available, a bare hand or finger will suffice.


If there is no evidence of a broken bone and a severely bleeding wound on the foot or leg, gently elevate the leg so that the wound is above the level of the heart, in addition to applying direct pressure. Elevation aids in lowering blood pressure in the injured area and slowing the bleeding.

Pressure on the Supplying Artery

If external bleeding persists after applying direct pressure and elevation, use a finger to apply pressure to the wound's main artery. Apply pressure to the femoral artery, which is located on the inside of the thigh, for example, if there is severe bleeding on the back leg. Apply pressure to the brachial artery, which is located on the inside of the upper front leg, if there is severe bleeding on one of the legs.

How do I help my cat or dog if they are bleeding internally?

Internal bleeding takes place within the body and is less visible than external bleeding from a wound. External signs of internal bleeding, on the other hand, can include any of the following:

  • Gums appear pale to white
  • Cool legs, ears, or tail
  • Coughing up blood or having difficulty breathing
  • Unusually subdued; progressive weakness and sudden collapse 
  • Painful belly when it is touched

If your pet is bleeding externally, or you suspect any internal bleeding, contact South Salem Animal Hospital and get to our hospital right away.

New Patients Welcome

South Salem Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of South Salem companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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