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Heavy Bleeding in Cats & Dogs

If your cat or dog is experiencing excessive bleeding, you need to contact your emergency vet right away while monitoring the condition of your pet. Here, our San Diego vets discuss heavy bleeding in cats and dogs and what pet owners can do to help.

Severe Bleeding in Cats & Dogs

Bleeding in a cat or dog can be either external or internal. External bleeding is easy to see and often comes from a wound in the skin. Internal bleeding, however, is difficult to detect and requires the services of a skilled emergency vet.

It is important to know how to control excessive bleeding in your cat or dog until you can seek emergency care.

Cats & Dogs Experiencing Severe Blood Loss

If your dog or cat loses a large amount of blood over a short period of time they will enter a state of shock. Blood loss of as little as two teaspoons per pound of body weight is enough to cause shock.

A dog or cat in shock has an increased heart rate and low blood pressure. They may have pale, white gums and breathe rapidly. If left untreated, organ systems shut down and the dog or cat may suffer permanent damage or even death.

What Can I Do if My Pet Has External Bleeding?

My main goal when a dog or cat is losing blood is to stop the flow of blood. While you can’t do much to stop internal bleeding on your own, you can control external bleeding from a wound or cut until you reach your emergency vet clinic.

Direct Pressure

To help control external bleeding, place a compress of clean cloth or gauze directly over your dog or cat's wound. Apply firm but gentle pressure, and allow it to clot. If blood soaks through the compress, place a fresh compress on top of the old one and continue to apply firm but gentle pressure. If there are no compress materials available, a bare hand or finger will work.


If a severely bleeding wound is on the foot or leg, and there is no evidence of a broken bone, gently elevate the leg so that the wound is above the level of the heart, in addition to applying direct pressure. Elevation helps to reduce blood pressure in the injured area and slow the bleeding. 

Apply Pressure on the Supplying Artery

If external bleeding continues after you have used direct pressure and elevation, you can use a finger to place pressure over the main artery to the wound. For example, if there is severe bleeding on a rear leg, apply pressure to the femoral artery, located on the inside of the thigh. If there is severe bleeding on the front leg, apply pressure to the brachial artery, located on the inside of the upper front leg.

What if My Cat or Dog Has Internal Bleeding?

Internal bleeding occurs inside the body and is less obvious than external bleeding from a wound. If you notice any of the following signs of internal bleeding in your dog or cat, please contact your an emergency vet.

  • Gums appear pale to white
  • Legs, ears, or tail are cool to the touch
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Sudden weakness or collapsing
  • Belly is swollen and painful to touch

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your cat or dog experiencing an injury or veterinary emergency? Contact our San Diego vets right away.

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