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How to Stop your pet’s Bleeding

stop-pet-bleedingIt is not uncommon for a pet owner to be faced with a dire situation as the result of some accident or underlying disease and, quite obviously, bleeding can be immediately life threatening.  Knowing how to stop bleeding quickly can be life saving.

Bleeding from minor injuries will usually stop on its own, however major bleeding may not.  Major bleeding can occur from a variety of injuries, but basically any time an artery or vein is cut or damaged or if there is a blood coagulation problem, there may be significant enough bleeding to be life threatening.  Stepping on a piece of glass, or licking a soup can lid can cause enough injury for substantial bleeding.

The simplest thing to do to stop bleeding is apply pressure.  Whether with the bare hand, or perhaps a towel applied by a hand or gently tied around the area that is bleeding, this can slow the loss of blood substantially.    Enough pressure should be applied so that the amount of bleeding that is seen decreases or stops altogether.  Using a temporary self- adhering bandage such as an ace bandage can also help decrease bleeding as well.

Any material can be used as a bandage.  Most first aid kits (pets and human) contain some sort of bandage material.  Regular bandages (like band aid brand) do not stick to animal skin as well as human skin, so using bandage material like gauze squares, rolled gauze and cotton padding will be helpful.  Cotton padding cannot be placed too tight, but rolled gauze may act like a tourniquet if placed on too tightly.  If you notice that blood is soaking through the bandage, DO NOT Remove the bandage, simply place another one over tip. Clean washcloths or kitchen towels or even a clean sock or T-shirt can be used as temporary bandage material.  Any kind of tape, such as duct tape, can be used to temporarily hold the bandage in place.

Some other techniques may be helpful enough to also control bleeding; if it is a limb, the leg can be raised above the rest of the body; this will decrease the blood flow to the limb that it may slow the bleeding as well.  It should be raised above the level of the heart.

Sometimes tourniquets can be used; however these can be dangerous.  Tourniquets basically cut off blood supply to an area, so, although they may decrease bleeding, they also decrease vitally important blood flow, and if left on for excessive periods of time may cause necrosis or death of the surrounding tissue or slow healing of the wound.  A tourniquet should NEVER be left on for more than 10 minutes.

Serious injuries should be seen by an emergency veterinarian.  Sometimes the only way to stop bleeding is by using surgical cautery or stitches.

Occasionally pets may have nose bleeds.  This can look quite dramatic as they will often sneeze and spray a white wall with droplets of blood.  If it is only a small amount, you may apply a cold compress to the nose for 5-10 minutes, wrapped in a wet washcloth.  If it continues for more than a few sneezes or is a persistent problem, it is recommended to see a veterinarian as it may indicate an underlying nasal or systemic disease.  Whenever there is blood in vomit or diarrhea, a visit to the vet is warranted as well.

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