Dealing with Bleeds

Cuts and bleeds are one of the most common first aid emergencies that dog owners and handlers are faced with. For that reason, it’s essential to be prepared for this scenario.

Cuts and bleeds are one of the most common first aid emergencies that dog owners and handlers are faced with. For that reason, it’s essential to be prepared for this scenario.

Here are our top tips for dealing with this situation;

Keep a first aid kit handy

Dealing effectively with a bleed is going to be pretty difficult if you do not have any first aid supplies! Every dog owner and dog care professional should have a well stocked first aid kit, including a selection of gauze swabs and elasticated woven bandages. We recommend always carrying some basic first aid items with you when out walking with your dog too, as this is often when accidents happen.

Carry out a visual risk assessment?

Is it safe for you to approach the dog? Are there any hazards? How are they behaving towards you? Take a moment to assess the situation and take any steps necessary to protect yourself.

“The calmer you are, the calmer your dog is likely to be.”

Secure the dog

If the dog is loose, secure them with a lead as quickly as possible, an injured dog’s flight instinct can quickly kick in. If the dog is displaying signs of aggression, consider muzzling the dog to protect yourself (a bandage can be used as an improvised muzzle if necessary).

Get help

Try to attract the attention of any passers by who may be able to help you hold the dog/call the vets/fetch a car etc.

Stay calm

The calmer you are, the calmer your dog is likely to be which is good because a dog’s heart rate

increases when they’re stressed and a rapid heart rate = faster blood loss. Breathe. Speak slowly and calmly. Sing a tune if it helps!

Assess the wound

What type of bleed is it, are there any obvious foreign bodies (objects) stuck in the wound? You need to quickly assess the situation in order to administer the correct first aid.

Arterial bleeds

If the blood is bright red and spurting/pumping out, it’s an arterial bleed. This will rapidly become life threatening, as the dog will lose a lot of blood very quickly. Immediate first aid is required!

You must apply very firm pressure directly to the wound, using a gauze pad or whatever you have to hand (yes, this might be your own clothing!). Hold constant firm pressure in place for at least 5 minutes, don’t be tempted to remove the padding to have a look, if the blood is coming through, apply more layers, but never remove them.

Use this time to try and calm the dog and call the vet – you’re going to be heading there next and you need to let them know you’re coming so they are ready and waiting when you arrive.

Once you’ve held pressure in place for several minutes, assuming you have your first aid kit, apply a pressure bandage over the top of the dressing.

This should be done using a soft woven elasticated type bandage, we do not recommend the use of Vet Wrap bandages for this purpose as they are very easy to apply too tightly and can completely cut off the blood supply to the limb. If you don’t have a bandage, keep holding pressure on the wound by hand.

Non-arterial bleeds

The blood will be darker in colour and will be seeping out steadily. The wound may be

flushed with some saline solution/mild antiseptic. If it continues to bleed heavily, apply a pressure bandage.

Foreign Bodies

Larger objects that are sticking out of a wound should always be left in place, they are probably sealing off damaged blood vessels and you can cause further harm by attempting to remove them. Pack around the foreign body with some soft padding/gauze and then apply the pressure bandage over and around the padding – this will help to stabilize the object and prevent it from moving around or getting torn out on the journey to the vets.

Any open wound must be treated by a vet. Do not be tempted to try and stick or suture wounds yourself. The risk of infection is high.

One of our course attendees sent us this testimonial;

“My first aid training proved to be very worthwhile as recently my dog injured himself on a sharp flint, I was able to remember not to panic and dealt with the situation, it was bleeding very badly!

I dressed it using my first aid kit and took him to the vets. He needed sedating for 4 stitches just above his pad” – Lindsey S.

Our Expert

This article was submitted by Claire Pooles, Franchisee in West Berkshire and Hampshire.

To learn more about the actions and techniques discussed above, join us on one of our Vet approved, CPD accredited courses! Dog First Aid deliver courses nationwide. To find your nearest course visit the website or contact us via the phone number below. | 0800 999 6632