Why is My Dog Bleeding?

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Dog Bleeding


When we see blood coming out from our dog, it is easy for us to panic and fail to take whatever proper action is needed to stop the bleeding.

So, we should be proactive and educate ourselves so that we are in a better position to deal with the situation if and when it arises.

Also, when you are calm, your dog will be less upset and easier to handle. Whenever you are handling a dog who is not well, take extra care because the dog may be more agitated and aggressive and may not allow you to examine him closely.

Use a muzzle if necessary to restrain your dog before trying to examine her.

Causes of Bleeding in Dogs and What To Do

The following sections looks at bleeding in different parts of a dog's body, the possible causes, and what we can do.

Quick Navigation:

Dog Bleeding From the Eye

Possible Causes

  • Injury/Trauma: Blood from a dog's eye is almost always the result of a trauma or injury. The origin of the blood is usually the skin and tissues surrounding the eye and less often the eye itself.

    What to Do: Determine the source and severity of the bleeding.

    If the bleeding is caused by an injury to the actual eye ball, such as a penetrating foreign object, or if the bleeding is profuse, take the dog to the vet immediately.

    If there is slight bleeding coming from the surrounding tissues of the eye, stop the bleeding and clean the wound.

  • Eye Disease: Less commonly, bleeding from the eye itself may be caused by a mass in or near the eye or some eye disease, such as conjunctivitis. Bleeding may also be caused by a torn or damaged third eyelid which is a protective membrane that is located in the corner of each eye.

    What to Do: Take your dog to the vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Dog Bleeding from the Ear

Dog ears have a lot of blood vessels to allow them to sense temperature and dissipate heat, as well as to receive auditory information. If your dog is bleeding from the ear, you may see quite a bit of blood!

Possible Causes

  • Trauma: The most common cause of dog bleeding from the ear is trauma, either self-induced by scratching or shaking, or from some other sources, such as from a dog or cat fight.

    What to Do: Determine the source of the bleeding by checking the ear for punctures and lacerations.

    For punctures, you can clean them thoroughly - first with water, then with a 50/50 mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water.

    For lacerations which are superficial, treat them the same as punctures.

    After cleaning the ear, bandage the ear to prevent aural hematomas following trauma. (Aural hematoma is a collection of blood and other fluid in the tissues on the lobe or flap of the ear caused by a ruptured blood vessel.)

    If lacerations are extensive, take your dog to the vet.

  • A Growth in or on the Ear: A variety of growths, such as polyps, warts, and sebaceous adenomas (most of these are benign), can occur on the ear flap or the inside of the ear, causing bleeding from the ear.

    What to Do: If you find some unusual growths in or on the ear and the bleeding is coming from the growths, try to stop the bleeding and take your dog to the vet to have the growths checked out.

  • Parasites: Parasites such as ear mites, ticks, and fleas can cause intense itching to your dog, resulting in excessive scratching and head shaking which can lead to bleeding in the ear.

    What to Do: Examine the inside of your dog's ears for mites and ticks, and the outer ears, head and neck for fleas. Stop the bleeding and get rid of the parasites.

  • Nutritional Deficiency: If the bleeding is caused by lesions on your dog's ear tips, and there is hair loss and cracking, this may be due to a nutritional deficiency.

    What to Do: Try to give your dog a multivitamin supplement that contains zinc.

Dog Bleeding from the Mouth

The mouth is a highly sensitive area, so injuries inside the mouth are usually painful and bleeding is very often profuse. Your dog may be agitated so you need to handle him with care.

Check the muzzle first for injuries, then proceed carefully to open his mouth and look inside. Check his gums, teeth, hard palate, tongue (also under the tongue), lips, and cheeks.

Possible Causes

  • Gum Disease: If your dog's gums are swollen, red, and bleeding, it is likely that he has gum disease such as gingivitis.

    What to Do: Consult your vet for a dental hygiene program. Also take a look at our page on Canine Dental Care for dental care suggestions for your dog.

  • Injury by Foreign Objects: Dog bleeding from the mouth can be due to an injury to the inside of the mouth, such as by some foreign object like a stick or a bone. Look carefully to see if there is anything stuck between the dog's teeth, or penetrating the cheek, under the tongue, or lodged across his hard palate.

    What to Do: If you find something stuck between the dog's teeth or other parts of the mouth, remove it only if the penetration is not deep. Otherwise, it is better to leave it to the vet.

  • Oral Growths: If you find an abnormal growth or swelling in your dog's mouth, don't panic! Not all growths are malignant and cancerous. If the growth is a soft mass, it may be a cyst or a benign tumor. Of course, there is also a chance that such growths are cancerous such as melanomas or sarcomas.

    What to Do: Try to stop the bleeding and visit the vet for a check-up.

Dog Bleeding from the Paw

Possible Causes

  • Injuries: Dog bleeding from the paw is usually due to injuries such as cuts or lacerations.

    Why is My Dog Bleeding What to Do: Determine the severity of bleeding and the seriousness of the injury.

    If bleeding is minimal and the injury is superficial with no foreign object embedded in the paw pad, clean the paw with 50/50 water and hydrogen peroxide mixture. Then apply a non-adherent dressing and bandage to the paw.

    You may want to put some calendula ointment onto the dressing to help the wound heal faster.

    If the bleeding is moderate or severe, or if there is a foreign object stuck in the wound, get to the vet immediately.

  • Broken Toenail: A cracked or broken toenail can also causing bleeding.

    What to Do: If bleeding is minimal, clean, disinfect, and dress the wound as above. If bleeding is profuse, try to stop or control the bleeding and take your dog to the vet immediately.

Dog Bleeding from the Anus

Possible Causes

  • Injuries: Puncture wounds (e.g. from a dog fight) to the hindquarters can cause bleeding.

    What to Do: Determine the exact location and severity of bleeding and the seriousness of the injury. Clean the wound with with 50/50 water and hydrogen peroxide mixture. Get to a vet if the bleeding cannot be stopped.

  • Anal Sac Abscess: Anal sacs that are inflammed and infected can form an abscess which can then rupture through the skin, resulting in a draining, open wound.

    What to Do: Clean the wound with saline solution, and take your dog to the vet for further treatment.

  • Growths or Swelling: Areas surrounding a dog's anus can be affected by different types of tumors which can bleed from excessive scratching or rubbing.

    What to Do: If you see a growth or swelling, apply gentle pressure to the area with a warm moist towel. By doing so, you can feel how hard or soft the growth is.

    If it happens to be a blood-filled cyst, you may drain the rest of the blood this way. In any case, visit the vet to check out the exact type of growth.

Dog Bleeding from the Vulva

Possible Causes

  • Estrus (Heat Cycle): If your unspayed female dog is bleeding from the vulva, it may be due to estrus (in which case the vulva will also be swollen).

    The estrous cycle in dogs varies depending on the breed and size. Some cycle once every 4 months (e.g. German shepherd) while others cycle once every 12 months (e.g. Basenji). In general, older dogs cycle less frequently than when they were younger.

    What to Do: If it is due to estrus, do nothing except perhaps keep her and your house clean!

  • Pyometra: Pyometra (uterine infection) is a disease that mainly affects middle-aged unspayed female dogs. Vaginal discharge resulting from pyometra can be pus-filled or bloody.

    If you suspect pyometra, check for other symptoms such as increased water intake and frequent urination, vomiting, fever, weakness, and lack of appetite.

    What to Do: Take your dog to the vet immediately.

Eldredge, et al. Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook 4th edition (Wiley Publishing, 2007).
C.J. Puotinen, Natural Remedies for Dogs and Cats (Keats Publishing, 1999).
R.H. Pitcairn, The Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats (Rodale, 2005).

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