Bleeding from any part of the dog's body can be an emergency, if the bleeding is profuse or if it is at a slow pace and lasts for a long period of time. If profuse, this can be life-threatening. Owners can assess the seriousness of bleeding by checking for pale mucous membranes and other signs of shock. Ice packs or cold compresses over the nose or mouth area may help to slow bleeding, but it is usually impossible to get a compress to the problem area.
Causes of bleeding are many. Bleeding from the nose and gums may be a sign of multiple myeloma (bone cancer).2 Therefore, there is very little that an owner can do to stop this kind of bleeding except to get a dog to a veterinary clinic as quickly as possible. Cuts and puncture wounds in any part of the body can cause bleeding. Usually wounds in the skin surface cause minimal bleeding. The exception is a deep wound that involves a vein or blood vessel underneath the surface. This is most likely to occur in the neck area, where the jugular vein is or with cuts of the leg or foot. If there is significant bleeding from the skin, manual pressure should be applied in places that are not easily bandaged. Use a clean cloth or bandage and apply pressure next to the wound until the bleeding stops. Use a compression bandage in areas that can be readily bandaged.
Most surface bleeding in dogs involves either the feet or limbs. Lacerations of the foot pads tend to bleed a lot. This is a very spongy tissue, and while the bleeding will often stop, it will begin again as soon as the dog steps on the foot and spreads the foot pad. If this problem continues for too long, a dog can loose a significant amount of blood. Treat foot pad lacerations with a compression or pressure bandage if possible.
Arterial bleeding is more serious than venous bleeding. There is a small but significant artery behind the food pads, at the back of the foot. This is a prime spot for dogs to cut when they step in broken glass or something sharp, causing arterial bleeding, with the blood spurting or pumping out. Apply a compression bandage, not only on a wound itself, but around the whole foot. The entire lower part of the limb should be always bandaged to avoid swelling. Bleeding that occurs higher in the legs can be significant when superficial veins and arteries are punctured or lacerated. As a general rule, a soft-padded compression bandage should be used in these areas.
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Vomiting blood can be a cause of great concern for dog owners. However, if fluid is being vomited, vomiting is frequent, and the extent of the bleeding is flecks or streaks of blood in the vomiting, this is not a life-threatening emergency. If there is a profuse amount of blood thrown up, or if there are blood clots present, it can indicate significant bleeding in the stomach. In that case, veterinary attention should be sought quickly. There is no emergency treatment for this condition, and oral medication is not advised.
Blood in the stool is not a severe emergency, if the blood is confined to streaks or flecks, with normal stool or diarrhea. If the stool becomes pools of dark, foul-smelling blood and that is all that is passed from the rectum, it may be hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, which is a severe and life-threatening emergency. Small dogs may go into shock within hours with this disease, but it will take a longer time for larger dogs to reach this condition. A great deal of water will be mixed with the blood, and this can lead to a specific type of shock, called hypovolemic shock, caused by too much fluid being lost from the bloodstream. There is no home emergency treatment for profuse blood in the stool. Immediate veterinary care must be sought.
Blood in the urine is usually a sign of a urinary tract infection and is usually not a significant emergency. Often, a dog has signs of straining to urinate, passing urine but in small amounts. Howevere, if there is significant bleeding in the urinary tract, or there are blood clots passed, it is the sign of significant bleeding from the urinary tract that requires prompt veterinary attention. Again, there is no first aid or medication that can be given at home.
- William J. Kay, D.V.M. Complete Book of Dog Healt
- Wallace B. Morrison. Cancer in Dogs and Cats: Medical and Surgical Management