First Aid: Part 1. Bleeding Wounds
One of the scariest things any pet owner can experience is an accident that results in a wound, particularly one that is accompanied with bleeding. Some of the most common injuries that occur for dog owners are road accidents or fights with other dogs on a walk but the boisterous nature of dogs mean that they can be injured anywhere.
The question is what do you do if you are suddenly presented with an emergency wound?
Ultimately, I’d always advise that you get your dog to a vet to get the wound assessed. Deep, full thickness wounds will need stitching, and dirty wounds need antibiotics. Many wounds will also need pain relief, either at the time of injury or in the healing phase.
However, it can take some time to arrange a vet appointment so here are some immediate first aid emergency tips:
Step 1: Keep calm. If you panic then you can increase your dog’s distress but keeping calm and talking to your dog in low reassuring tones will help to keep them relaxed.
Step 2: Identify the location and depth of the wound and establish how heavy the flow of blood is. This is vital information for your vet but also helps you work out what to do as first aid treatment.
Step 3: Stem the blood flow. The heavier the bleeding from the wound, the greater you pressure you need to apply. If the wound is on a limb or a tail you can apply a tourniquet- but only for a few minutes until you get to a vet. For other wounds, you can apply direct pressure using a towel or T-shirt.
Step 4: Bandage the area to protect the wound. If it’s still bleeding after you’ve applied pressure then you can apply an absorbent dressing. If you have a first aid kit then apply the following in this order, an absorbent dressing, a bandage then some tape. If you don’t have any medical materials then tape a child’s nappy or a sanitary pad over the wound.
Step 5: Proceed straight to your vets for assessment and treatment. Do not feed your dog although offering them water is fine. Do not give your dog any medications as this can interfere with what your vet may wish to prescribe when you arrive.
Wounds can be scary but you should remember that most of them look worse than they actually are. Fast forward a few hours and they look very different and are very rarely life threatening.
Look out for my next First Aid tips!
Paul Manktelow regularly appears in the media as one of the UKs leading veterinary surgeons. His accomplished career as a vet allows him to talk on a number of key animal subjects and he regularly provides valuable advice to pet owners across the UK. Appearing on TV shows such as Junior Vets, Animal Madhouse and This Morning, he also writes columns for the Times, Dogs Monthly and blogs on his popular website Vital Pet Health.