An open wound or scab are often easier to deal with because they’re visible and your vet can determine the right solution in a relatively straightforward manner. However, internal injuries can be difficult to address. Whether the internal bleeding is due to a car accident, fighting with other pets, sickness, or fall from a height, internal injuries can cause severe trauma to your dog and cause them to go into shock. So, what are the symptoms of internal bleeding in dogs?
Read on to learn more and how to administer first aid to a dog with internal bleeding.
Causes of Internal Bleeding in Dogs
Internal injuries may come from your pup being hit by a blunt object or a car, due to dog fights, errors from a spaying procedure, or some diseases associated with internal bleeding.
Internal bleeding can also occur in dogs if they ingest an anti-coagulant such as mouse or rat poison. According to Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers, cancer is the most common cause of internal bleeding in cases where accidents or poison ingestion have been ruled out.
Symptoms of Internal Bleeding in Dogs
While you are hoping never to have to deal with internal bleeding in your furry friend, knowing the signs could save your pup’s life if an accident ever occurs.
Recognizing signs of internal bleeding in dogs can be easier and quicker if you know the cause of your dog’s distress. But no matter what caused the internal injury, you should seek veterinary intervention as soon as possible.
Dogs experiencing internal bleeding are typically in a life-threatening situation and should receive emergency veterinary care ASAP. If you notice any of the following symptoms in your dog and have any reason to believe that they are experiencing internal bleeding, call your veterinarian immediately, or take your pooch to the nearest emergency veterinary center.
1: Overall shock
Since internal bleeding reduces the volume of blood in your pup’s circulatory system, shock is the first thing that often sets in. Symptoms of shock in dogs may include low blood pressure, cold legs, decreased body temperature, weak pulse, and increased heart rate.
2: Lethargy and Feeling Uncomfortable
A dog with internal bleeding may become lethargic because of anemia. Blood issues such as anemia can cause your dog to become weak and to have very low energy. Your dog may also feel uncomfortable, but more often, the weakness will overshadow signs of discomfort that your pet may display.
3: Pale Gums
Your dog’s gums can tell you a lot about how well blood is circulating through their body. A healthy dog’s gums are typically pink, almost the color of bubble gum. If your pup is experiencing internal bleeding, his gums and tongue may appear pale because less blood is circulating through the gums and the rest of the body.
Another important method for determining internal bleeding is by testing your pup’s capillary refill time. Simply press a finger against your pet’s gums, and then quickly release it. If the dog is healthy, the gums will return to their regular pink color within two seconds. If the gums take more than two seconds to return to their normal color in the area that you pressed, it could be a signal for internal bleeding.
4: Enlarged Abdomen
When a large amount of blood pools into your dog’s abdomen, the abdomen may appear enlarged. You may also notice that the skin around your dog’s belly develops a dark hue or purple or red spots.
In severe cases, blood may begin to leak from your pup’s eyes, mouth, and nose. You may also notice blood in your dog’s stool.
Other common signs of internal bleeding in dogs include:
- Weak, rapid heartbeat
- Local rapid swelling
- Coughing up blood
How Long Can dogs live with internal bleeding?
Scientists suggest that the median survival time for dogs with internal bleeding or hemoabdomen is 1.6 months. Half of the dogs will likely die in just a few hours or days, and half will die after 1.6 months or, in some cases, even long after. Overall, internal bleeding is a dangerous condition that should be addressed with the utmost urgency it deserves.
First Aid for Internal Bleeding in Dogs
Since internal bleeding is invisible and difficult to diagnose, it can become critical very quickly. If you suspect that your pup is bleeding internally, it is important to do everything within your ability to keep him calm and collected. Wrap him in a warm towel or blanket and show him love by talking softly and reassuringly to him.
If your vet determines that the bleeding is due to vitamin K deficiency due to certain types of diseases or poor diet, vitamin K supplements may be recommended. Your pup should still get adequate vitamin K through bacterial synthesis and absorption in their ileum and colon, but supplements can help boost the levels quicker.
Strive to get your dog to the vet or an emergency vet clinic as soon as you can. When lifting your pooch into the car, place one arm beneath her chest in front of her front legs and the other hand under her rump behind her back legs. Avoid putting pressure on her abdomen when lifting her. This can worsen the bleeding or cause further damage to the internal organs.
You could also use an old door or a plank of wood to create an ideal platform for maneuvering your dog onto the car. It helps in offering support during transportation to the clinic. If you know the cause of your pet’s situation, be sure to share it with the vet. This will help them diagnose what is wrong.
Once at the clinic, your vet will conduct a thorough physical exam unless your pet is in urgent need of life support first. If your dog is going into shock, your vet will take immediate action to avoid damages to the internal organs.
Depending on the specific situation of your pet, diagnostic tests may include a complete blood count (CBC). Your vet may also carry out abdominal radiographs, X-rays, serum chemistry profile, and electrocardiogram (EKG).
While broken or fractured bones are obvious signs of trauma, it is critical to first determine any internal damage. Bleeding internally as a result of punctured organs requires urgent attention as it’s often the number one cause for sudden deaths in dogs.
How Much Internal Bleeding is Dangerous?
So, how much blood can a dog lose before it is serious? A large amount of blood loss over a short duration may cause shock in your pet. If your dog loses blood as little as two teaspoons for every pound of his body weight, it is enough to trigger shock. A dog in shock will exhibit low blood pressure and an increased heart rate, which could result in death.
Many pet owners have reported that their dog died suddenly after internal bleeding, a condition known as hemangiosarcoma. If internal bleeding goes unchecked, dogs can bleed to death within a few hours. Whenever you suspect that your dog is bleeding internally from the signs we have highlighted here, be sure to rush your pet to the nearest emergency vet care!
Dr. Belinda Hawks earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University in 2006 and has been practicing veterinary medicine since then. Dr. Belinda currently works as a passionate rancher and mixed animal veterinarian in a rural town in South Carolina. When not practicing veterinary medicine or writing, she spends her free time with her lovely husband and three kids (2 boys and a lovely girl) in South Carolina.