Helpful Hints for Pet Care at Home

The following article is most helpful if you are equipped with a decent First Aid kit. We can help you in preparing one. Obviously, spurting arterial bleeding requires immediate attention. You must apply direct pressure to the site. Your t-shirt or any handy sheet or towel material (hopefully clean) will suffice in an emergency. Please visit Crestway Animal Clinic on Facebook for more information.

How to Stop Bleeding from a Laceration or Wound


Injuries may occur while a pet is outside playing, hiking with owners, is involved in an altercation with another animal, or many other situations. Serious injuries may bleed and require first-aid treatment until your pet can be transported to a veterinarian.

It can be a valuable asset to have a first-aid kit available at home or while traveling. These kits can hold bandaging materials for serious wounds, allowing the owner to apply a pressure bandage when needed.

Getting Started

Equipment/materials needed:

· Telfa pads (nonstick gauze or material): ideal but not indispensable

· Cotton gauze

· Vetrap, Elastikon/Elastoplast, or Ace-type elastic roll bandage

· Bandaging tape


If the bleeding is heavy, it is most important to place a pressure bandage on the area of concern to control the bleeding. You can then transport your pet to the veterinarian for evaluation. Tape will not stick to a moist haircoat; therefore, be sure to dry the area as well as possible.

This procedure may require two people. Pets may resist the need for restraint. Do not place yourself in harm’s way or allow yourself to get bitten.


· Apply a Telfa pad, if available, over the laceration. This allows for easier bandage removal. Hold moderate pressure on the laceration while bandaging.

· Apply a layer of cotton bandage material.

o If the laceration is on the leg, start below the wound and wrap the cotton bandage material over the wound, stopping above the wound.

o If the laceration is on the chest, a figure-eight formation over the shoulder blades and around the front of the chest between the front legs (“cross-your-heart” configuration) may be needed to secure the bandage.

o If the laceration is on the abdomen (belly), apply the pressure bandage around the entire abdomen, making sure to avoid incorporating the penis in male dogs.

· Apply a layer of Vetrap or similar bandage by repeating the steps listed above with the Vetrap/similar bandage to solidify the bandage.

· A pressure bandage is necessary to stop the bleeding; therefore, the bandage should not be too loose. A pressure bandage is intended to be temporary, allowing for transport to a veterinarian. Be sure to leave the toes exposed (if on a leg) and the chest not excessively compressed (if on the chest). The toes should remain pink (not pale/white/blue), warm (not cold), and not swollen, to confirm that circulation to the leg is adequate and the bandage is not too tight.

· Apply a piece of bandaging tape to the top and bottom of the bandaging material where it meets the pet's hair or skin. This will help keep the bandage in place while traveling to the veterinary hospital.


Always assess your pet's foot for any swelling. The toes will be the first to swell if a bandage is too tight. If the toes swell, remove the bandage and start over.

Depending on the wound, the veterinarian may have you apply several bandages after the treatment and/or surgery. Do not wrap follow-up bandages as tightly as the initial bandage. The initial bandage was a pressure wrap to stop the bleeding. A bandage this tight after the bleeding has stopped can cause severe tissue damage. Ensure follow-up bandages are loose (should be able to place a finger inside the bandage), but secure.

Never let the animal eat the bandage or lick the laceration. Apply an Elizabethan collar, if needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I apply an antibiotic cream to the area?

Not with bleeding. The most important point is to stop the bleeding; apply the pressure bandage as soon as possible.

Should I wear gloves when cleaning the area?

Yes, you should always wear gloves when working with any wound. This will prevent you from becoming contaminated with bacteria and will prevent you from contaminating the wound. However, in an emergency situation, medical exam gloves may not be available, and controlling the bleeding is the first priority

We thank Etienne Côté, DVM, for the above article first published as a client education sheet in Dr. Côtés excellent text Clinical Veterinary Advisor, 2 nd Ed. 2011. We thank Elsevier Inc. for permission to reproduce this article.