Heavy bleeding or slow, continuous lighter bleeding will lead to dangerous clinical shock. While internal bleeding is difficult to control, external bleeding can often be controlled by applying pressure. Spurting blood means that an artery has been damaged. This is more difficult to stop because of higher blood pressure in arteries (carrying blood from the heart) than in veins (carrying blood back to the heart). Watch for signs of shock; pale or white gums, rapid breathing, weak, rapid pulse, cold extremities and general weakness.
Wounds bleeding profusely
*1. If first aid material is available, apply pressure with a non-stick gauze pad. If this is not available use any clean absorbent material such as a tea towel. Use kitchen paper towel, a pad of toilet paper or facial tissue if nothing else is available.
*2. Apply pressure for at least five minutes, adding more absorbent material if necessary.
*3. Keep the bleeding area above the heart if possible but do not elevate a leg if there is a possible fracture.
*4. Do not remove the blood soaked material. It helps with clotting. Leave removal to your veterinarian. Do not apply hydrogen peroxide. It dissolves clots and promotes further bleeding.
5. Get immediate veterinary attention.
A dog fight is the most common cause of bleeding from the ear flap. *Apply pressure for several minutes on both sides of the ear with adsorbent pads. Sanitary pads are excellent for covering bleeding wounds. Do not remove the pads.
*Lay the ear back against the head and hold it in position with stretchy bandage or a section cut from tights. Ensure the bandage does not interfere with the windpipe and breathing. See your vet within 24 hours.
Nose bleeds are not usually dangerous. *If your dog is willing, apply a cold pack (bag of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel) to the side of the nose. Do not put anything in the nostrils to prevent blood from discharging. Nose bleeds are uncommon. Telephone your vet for advice.
A torn nail causes profuse bleeding in dogs but is rarely life threatening. *Apply a ferrous sulphate or silver nitrate stick to the torn end to stop bleeding. *If this is not available, wrap the area in clean absorbent material and apply pressure for at least two minutes. *Bandage the absorbent material in place and leave for 2 hours before removing. If bleeding recurs, see your veterinarian. Cats often look after themselves.
*1. With your thumb below and in the middle and your fingers above, apply squeezing pressure to control bleeding.
*2. Apply an absorbent pad and wrap it to the wound with stretchy bandage. On dogs with sufficiently long hair ensure hair is caught in the bandage to prevent if from slipping off.
*3. If the tail is long enough, bandage it to the side of the dog. This prevents wagging and more bleeding.
4. See your veterinarian the same day.
What We Will Do
Skin wounds are cleaned of debris. After thorough irrigation, using scalpel, forceps and scissors we will remove or “debride” dead and dying (devitalised) tissue. After controlling any remaining bleeding by tying off (ligating) blood vessels, the wound is usually sutured closed. Other closure methods such as metal clips, medical “superglue” and adhesive bandages are used in specific circumstances. If there has been serious damage, interference or infection under the skin a rubber drain may be sewn into the suture line. This allows fluid to drain from the damaged region and accelerates healing.
Prevent further damage to wounds
The two most common types of wounds are CLOSED, where the skin is not broken, and OPEN, where the skin is broken. FRACTURES can accompany either type of injury. With many wounds thereis the danger of infection.
Closed wounds can be deceptive. Because the skin is not broken it looks like there is little damage. Do not underestimate a closed wound. It may look insignificant but underneath there can be dramatic internal injuries. The full extent of these injuries may not be apparent for days. Even when wounds look minor, telephone your veterinarian and get professional advice.
The signs of closed wounds are:
- Discolouration caused by bruising under the skin
- Increased heat in a specific location
- Superficial damage such as scratches to the skin
First Aid For Closed Wounds
*1. If there is superficial skin damage cleanse the region with 3% hydrogen peroxide or non- stinging antiseptic liquid, cream or spray.
*2. Apply a cold compress to the wound. A bag of frozen vegetables (peas) wrapped in a tea towel makes an ideal compress because it thaws faster than ice and wraps to the contour of the injured area.
3. Look for hidden injuries, especially if your cat or dog has been in a road traffic accident or has suffered other trauma. Always contact us for further advice.
First Aid For Open Wounds
When the skin has been broken, underlying tissue is exposed to dirt and bacteria. There is a great risk that these wounds will become infected. Give immediate first aid to stop bleeding, minimise further damage and control pain then see your veterinarian as soon as possible. Remember, although open wounds look more serious, internal damage under closed wounds can be equally life threatening.
The signs of open wounds are:
- Broken skin, sometimes only a puncture
- Increased licking or attention to a specific area
Wounds Not Bleeding Severely
*1. Use tweezers or your clean fingers to remove obvious dirt, glass, splinters or other material from the wound.
*2. Flush minor wounds with 3% hydrogen peroxide, antiseptic or clean bottled or tap water. (A dental water pik is ideal for cleaning wounds.) Alternatively use a clean hand held garden spray water bottle with the nozzle turned to ‘jet’ rather than ‘mist’.
Do not pull large objects like arrows, pieces of wood or metal out of open wounds. Uncontrollable bleeding could follow. Leave the object in the wound and get to us as fast as possible.
*3. If hair is getting in the wound apply a little water-soluble jelly (eg KY Jelly) to a scissors and cut the hair away. The hair sticks to the scissors. Do not use petroleum jelly on a wound. It is difficult to remove.
DO NOT RUB OPEN WOUNDS. YOU MAY CAUSE MORE DAMAGE. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE SMALL OPEN WOUNDS. INJURIES MAY BE DEEP AND SEVERE. THERE IS RISK OF INFECTION. AFTER GIVING IMMEDIATE FIRST AID ALWAYS SEE US AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
If you suspect internal bleeding
- If the pet has collapsed, place it on its side with its head and neck extended.
- Elevate the hindquarters using a folded blanket, towel or pillow.
- Keep it warm by wrapping in coats or blankets and get to us quickly.