Pet First Aid: How to Control Your Dog’s Emergency Bleeding

dog gets gauze to control bleeding

Every pet parent should know how to control bleeding in their pet. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

April is Pet First Aid Awareness Month and it’s a great time to discuss what to do if your dog is in a medical emergency.

For most injuries and illnesses you should see a vet right away† However, in an emergency, such as when your dog is bleeding, you may need to provide your dog with first aid until you can receive professional treatment.

Bleeding can be external or internal. External bleeding is easy to see and usually comes from a skin wound. This wound is obvious, unlike internal bleeding, which is difficult to detect and requires the assistance of a veterinarian.

A blood loss of just two teaspoons per pound of body weight is enough to send a dog into shock† Every dog ​​parent should know how to control or stop bleeding, even if it’s just long enough to take a dog to the vet.

Here’s what you need to know about stopping your dog’s bleeding.

How to stop external bleeding in dogs?

Below are, in the order in which you should perform them, some techniques to stop or control external bleeding in dogs.

Direct pressure

Direct, gentle pressure is the most preferred method of stopping external bleeding.

To do this, place a compress of a clean cloth or gauze directly on your dog’s wound, apply firm but gentle pressure, and allow it to solidify. Do not disturb the clots.

If blood seeps through the compress, do not remove it. Instead, place a new compress on the old and continue to apply pressure.

If there are other injuries that need to be addressed, tie the compress in place with bandages or gauze. If no compression material is available, your hand or finger will work.

Obviously, you should wash your hands thoroughly after handling bodily fluids, such as blood, and use gloves if available.


If a wound to the leg or foot is bleeding heavily, gently lift the leg until the wound is above the heart. This allows gravity to lower blood pressure near the wound, which will slow the bleeding.

Elevation works best for larger dogs with long legs because there is a greater distance between the injury and the heart.

Elevation should be used in conjunction with direct pressure and compresses for maximum effectiveness.

Press artery

cute labrador puppy dog ​​leans its snout on a hurting paw with a bandage - sniffing the unusual coating, close up

(Photo credit: ilona75/Getty Images)

If bleeding continues after applying direct pressure and elevation, apply pressure to the artery supplying blood to the injury.

For front leg injuries, apply pressure to the brachial artery in the upper front leg.

For injuries to a hind leg, apply pressure to the femoral artery in the groin, and if the injury is to the tail, apply pressure to the caudal artery at the base of the tail.

Continue to apply direct pressure as you transport the dog to the vet.

Pressure above and below the wound

Applying pressure above the wound will control arterial blood loss and pressure below the wound will help control bleeding from the veins.

This should be used in conjunction with direct pressure.


WARNING: A tourniquet is dangerous and should only be used if the injury is on the tail or a leg and the dog would otherwise die of blood loss without it.

Wrap a two-inch or wider piece of fabric around the limb twice and tie it.

Tie a short stick or something similar, such as an ink pen, into the knot. Use the stick to tighten the tourniquet until the bleeding stops. Tie the stick to keep it in place and note the time – this is not a time to rely on your memory.

Every twenty minutes, release the tourniquet for fifteen or twenty seconds before reattaching it.

A tourniquet should only be used as a last-ditch effort, as its use is likely to result in disability or amputation of the affected limb.

Internal bleeding

Young Stid puppy rescued from the street and taken to the vet to be examined and rescued, then given to a loving animal.

(Photo Credit: Sebastian Condrea/Getty Images)

Internal bleeding is not as easy to detect as external bleeding because it occurs inside the dog’s body and cannot be seen.

You should check for these visible signs of internal bleeding:

  • Gums or eyelids are pale
  • Legs, ears or tail feel cool
  • The dog is extremely excited or unusually subdued

If your dog shows any of these symptoms, get professional help right away. Remember that internal bleeding from the outside cannot be detected with certainty.

Do you have any tips for stopping blood loss in dogs? Will you help spread the word for Pet First Aid Awareness Month? Let us know in the comments below!

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