Emergency first aid for dogs – Part 4 – When a dog is bleeding
It happens every day – a dog is crossing a street or busy intersection and becomes the target of thousands of pounds of crushing steel – injuring the poor animal to the brink of death.
If you ever have the unfortunate experience of bearing witness to this trauma, it is important to have a basic understanding of shock and any type of bleeding the animal may be experiencing. In fact, any bleeding must of course be considered an emergency condition, because the canine doesn’t really have any blood that it can safely spare.
There are three types of external bleeding that every dog owner should be aware of:
Arterial bleeding occurs when an artery has been severed. The blood from an arterial wound will be bright and red, and will flow in a pulsating manner in time with the dog’s heartbeat. This is the most dangerous of the three types of bleeding, and the flow of blood from the severed artery must be shut off, or clamped. If it cannot be seen, pressure must be applied between the wound and the loss of blood until professional help can be obtained.
If a vein has been cut, the blood will be darker red, and will flow evenly. A pressure bandage – or any pressure at all – applied directly below the wound, will help stop bleeding from a severed vein. The pressure should be released every five to eight minutes, and then reapplied.
Capillary bleeding can be recognized as an oozing from the small, surface blood vessels. This will probably be the most common wound you’ll encounter. Direct pressure applied to the wound will stop the flow of blood. This can be accomplished by the use of gauze bandages – or whatever type of folded cloth may be available in an emergency.
Cotton should never be applied directly to a wound as a pressure bandage.
Any internal bleeding must be regarded as extremely serious, and professional treatment is required for the necessary injections to help coagulate the blood. Internal bleeding can be caused by a ruptured organ inside the abdominal cavity (such as the liver or spleen).
Internal bleeding is usually indicated by grayish-white gums, which is also a visual symptom of shock. In any case, where internal bleeding is suspected, the dog should be treated for shock, since any extreme loss of blood will cause the dog’s blood pressure to drop. The loss of blood pressure alone can cause the dog to go into shock.