Could My Pet Have Internal Bleeding?

signs of internal bleeding in dogs

Could My Pet Have Internal Bleeding?

We love our pets and want to keep them healthy and It's easy to see when animals are bleeding externally, but sometimes it's hard to detect internal bleeding since it's not visible from the outside. This is because the blood that's hidden inside our pets is harder to notice.

It's important to know how to recognize the signs of internal bleeding in your pet so that you can get them the treatment they need right away!


What are the causes of internal bleeding?

One common example of this is after trauma. There are many different places where pets can bleed, and they may not be visible to you. Pets can also bleed internally without showing any signs on their skin surface—for example, when a car gets into an accident they have suffered trauma to their bones, muscles or internal organs such as the liver or kidneys.

Small bleeding wounds are not threatening because they are self-limiting and a clot is formed that stops further bleeding. A large bleed is a serious condition that can be life-threatening. If your pet has heavy blood loss, the blood may not clot because too much fluid is lost. Your pet can also have a bleeding disorder and the clotting mechanism is not working. For example in the case of rat poison, although the patient doesn’t have any history of trauma, bleeding still occurs in tissues and gut until they become severely ill or weak.

The blood vessels in tumors bleed more as compared to healthy blood vessels. For example, in the case of hemangiosarcoma on the spleen, there is a lot of bleeding in the abdomen.

So what are the signs on the outside when there is internal bleeding inside?

Some common signs that you will see are:


If there's a lot of blood loss, your heart has to beat faster and harder to keep the rest of your body supplied with oxygen. This will lead to a weak and rapid pulse.

Pallor – paleness

If you notice your dog’s gums are looking pale, or if they have a hard time walking, it could be due to a large bleed. A vet can usually spot this problem pretty easily.

In the first stage, before an animal may look pale after bleeding the spleen will release all the reserved blood cells in circulation. This is because their body is trying to prevent further bleeding by using up all of their stored red blood cells. Therefore not every animal will look pale after blood loss. However, some simple blood tests can help you determine the condition of your animal.


If the circulation is compromised for some reason, it can lead to a rapid drop in blood pressure. This can be dangerous because if there's not enough blood flow to the brain or lungs, the patient may collapse.

The brain

Intracranial bleeds are scary, but they're also common. If your animal had a head injury or a bleeding tumor, the risk of developing one is greater. Bleeding in the brain can be dangerous because it puts stress on the brain tissue, which affects brain function. The brain is divided into different areas that control different functions, so symptoms can appear in different ways like tremors, circling, dragging limbs, inability to walk, confusion, behavioral changes, fitting, or tremors. 

The guts

Bleeding into the gut is considered when the blood is seen in the gut content, either in vomiting (coffee ground or fresh blood) or in the feces (black feces due to digested blood).

The abdomen

An abdomen is the area of the body that contains all of the organs, so it's a pretty big place. That being said, if there is a lot of bleeding going on, the abdomen may feel "full" and swell.

The retroperitoneal space

The kidneys are two organs that are located on either side of the spine, just below the rib cage. The kidneys have a pocket of space popped away behind them, called the retroperitoneal space. Blood that collects in this pocket is hard to find; only an experienced ultra-sonographer can find it.

The inside of the lungs

If there is blood inside the lungs it will manifest as coughing blood, breathing difficulty, and fever.

Outside the lungs in the chest

If you notice your animal is not breathing as deeply as they usually do, it may be experiencing respiratory distress. Shallow breathing is a sign that the lungs are not expanding properly. Other signs are breathlessness, lack of activity, and blue-tinge gums.

Under the skin

It's important to know that bleeds under the skin are normal and, in most cases, don't need medical attention. However, if you notice any signs of infection such as redness or swelling around a bruise, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.

Into the uterus

Normally menstruation is the time when blood accumulates here but in some other cases, blood also accumulates here.

The eye

Blood in the eye is caused by bleeding inside the eye, either from an injury or disease. It can be seen with the help of an ophthalmoscope. Blood inside your eyes can block light from entering them and make it difficult for you to see clearly; this is known as "blocked vision".

So it is clear that internal bleeding occurs anywhere in the body and shows a variety of signs. It means internal bleeding has different symptoms

causes of internal bleeding in dogs

What if my vet suspects internal bleeding?

These blood tests will help your vet diagnose the issue. Hematocrit is the percentage of red blood cells in your blood, and total solids are the amount of protein in your blood. There are different signs of internal bleeding so these tests can help in saving lives.

Your vet can also perform a variety of tests to look for more information. They might take radiography of your pet's chest or abdomen, which is a way of looking for fluid sloshing around in the body. They can also use a needle to detect the free fluid accumulation in the body.


Then what?

The options for treating a bleed depend on the location of the bleed. For example, if it's in an organ like a spleen, we might surgically find the cause of the bleeding and remove it. If it's in an organ like the brain, we may not want to open up the brain cavity because opening the brain cavity could make matters worse.

If your pet is bleeding, and you're not sure why the most likely culprit is a lack of required clotting factors. This means that their blood doesn't have enough of the proteins needed to clump together and stop the bleeding.

This type of bleeding is called "generalized"—it's happening all over the body in different locations. If this happens, giving a transfusion with appropriate clotting factors will be more useful than surgery.

In the meantime fluid transfusion is given to keep the remaining RBCs circulating. Sometimes oxygen-carrying blood transfusion is also given to save the lives of animals.


What to do if you come to know your pet is suffering from internal bleeding?

If your pet is showing any of these symptoms, abdominal swelling, fast pulse, or pale gums it's important to seek medical treatment immediately. In case of any accident or trauma, the first thing to do is a blood test or ultrasound to check any signs of early bleeding before they become severe.


What is the prognosis of internal bleeding?

It depends on the condition and cause but two things to keep in mind. First in the short term the probability of surviving surgery or treatment and second what are the long-term outcomes? For example, the owner may not want the vet to operate on a bleeding tumor that has spread in the whole abdomen. Even though it may have a good effect on an animal, this decision is between the owner and the vet.

Remember, if you suspect internal bleeding in your pet, don't delay seeking professional help. Early detection and prompt action can make a significant difference in their recovery and well-being.

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