Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.
Effective First Aid for a Dog's Bloody Nose
If your dog has a bloody nose, use the first aid described below to stop it immediately. Get your dog into the vet right away to find out what is causing it and prevent it happening again to your already weakened dog.
How to Treat a Dog With a Bloody Nose
- Keep calm. If you are stressed out and yelling or crying, your dog is going to be jumping around, upset, and the bleeding will be that much more severe.
- Get ice. Go to your refrigerator and take out an ice pack. (Even though gel packs are not part of your first aid kit, these are cheap and you should keep a few in your refrigirator.) Find a hand towel or dishcloth. If you do not have an ice pack available, or if you have a small dog, take some ice cubes and wrap them in the hand towel.
- Sit. Sit down on the floor with your dog, put his head on your lap, and calm him down. (If he bleeds on your clothes, do not worry about it. The blood will come out later, before you wash, with hydrogen peroxide.) Lift his gums up casually and check his color.
- Hold and ice the nose. Hold his head up and wrap the towel (with ice pack or ice cubes) on the bridge of his nose. The ice should not go directly on his skin, and the towel definitely should not be covering up his nose! It is hard enough for him to breathe with blood in his nose. Do not make it any worse.
- Check bleeding. Check the capillary refill time (CRT), and watch to see if the bleeding slows or stops. To check his CRT, apply pressure on his mucus membranes for about five seconds and see if the blood goes back to the pale spot. If it does not, or goes back only slowly, he has lost a lot of blood.
- If the blood won't stop, pack the nostrils. If the bleeding will not stop with external cooling/internal clotting, you can try and pack the bleeding nostril or nostrils with cotton. Some dogs will allow this, some will whip their head around and start pawing at their face, making things even worse. Also remember that he will have to breathe through his mouth, so let him pant if he wants to.
- Go to the vet. If you have an emergency veterinarian available, go ahead and take your dog there. Although you do not need to bother calling for an appointment, you should call to let them know you are on the way. At the emergency clinic, your dog may need fluids, platelets, or even a transfusion.
- If you can't see a vet right away. If you do not have a veterinarian available, keep him as calm as possible. If a clot forms in the nose, it will temporarily stop the bleeding. Get him to your vet as soon as possible; in the meantime you should have activated charcoal in your first aid kit, and, just in case your dog has been exposed to rat poison, you can give him activated charcoal at a dose of 5 grams per 4 kg (about 10 pounds) of body weight. (If your dog has an infection, a foreign body, or any of the other causes of a nose bleed, this will not help. If the blood has clotted and the dog thrashes around when you try to give the activated charcoal, just stop.)
Now that you have things under control, how about finding out what caused the bout of epistaxis (bloody nose)?
Possible Causes of a Dog's Bloody Nose
|Very Young Dog||Adult Dog||Senior Dog||Any Age|
Inherited bleeding disease
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or Ehrlichia (ticks)
Trauma (hit by car, dog fight, etc)
Kidney or liver failure
Foreign body (foxtail, etc)
Medication (Aspirin, etc)
Find out What Is Wrong With Your Dog
Some cases are obvious—I examined a dog that ran through a sliding glass door. After repairing the trauma to the nose, the bleeding stopped. Sometimes things are hard to determine, so after your dog has been examined, the lab tests that might be necessary to determine why your dog has a bloody nose are:
- Since cancer is the most common cause of bleeding from the nose (1,2), the dog might need an endoscopic exam to look deep into the nasal cavity.
- If there is not an obvious cause (like trauma, a tumor, or a foreign body), the veterinarian may take blood for a CBC (for diseases spread by ticks, some types of hemophilia, and some types of infection) and chemistry (to check for kidney failure and to check the liver).
- A coagulation profile might need to be done, especially for young purebred Dobermans, Airedales, Scotties, German Shepherd Dogs, and some other breeds.
- Bacterial or fungal testing if an infection is suspected.
- An older dog might also need chest x-rays to find out if his cancer has spread to his lungs.
- An x-ray of the head might show a tumor or trauma that you did not know about and the vet could not see.
- A test for lupus may need to be done if other symptoms fit.
Will My Dog Get Better?
Treatment, and your dog´s chances of getting better after the incident, really depends on what caused it in the first place. Some dogs will get well as soon as the NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like aspirin) are stopped and the primary problem is taken care of. Rat poisoning, an infection, and even a rotten tooth are a lot easier to take care of than a cancer, especially if it has already spread.
Take the time to diagnose the problem. It may not be easy, or cheap, to find out what is wrong, but the results are often worth it.
This time your dog might be fine—the next time your dog may not live through the nose bleed.
- Do It Yourself At Home Physical Exam for Your Dog
You should be aware of what your dogs normal heart rate, the color of his mucus membranes, etc. If your dog has a bloody nose, you can only help if you are used to seeing him healthy. Learn how to exam your dog at home.
(1) Bissett SA, Drobatz KJ, McKnight A, Degernes LA. Prevalence, clinical features, and causes of epistaxis in dogs: 176 cases (1996-2001). J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2007 Dec 15;231(12):1843-50. doi: 10.2460/javma.231.12.1843. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18081523/
(2) Strasser JL, Hawkins EC. Clinical features of epistaxis in dogs: a retrospective study of 35 cases (1999-2002). J Am Anim Hosp Assoc. 2005 May-Jun;41(3):179-84. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15870252/
Breitschwerdt, E. B., Hegarty, B. C., Maggi, R., Hawkins, E., & Dyer, P. (2005). Bartonella species as a potential cause of epistaxis in dogs. Journal of clinical microbiology, 43(5), 2529–2533. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1153741/
Slappendel RJ. Bleeding tendency as a cause of epistaxis in the dog. Vet Q. 1986 Oct;8(4):329-33. doi: 10.1080/01652176.1986.9694063. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3798715/
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Question: My dog hit his nose on a brick and started bleeding by 2:00 am and there’s no vet doctor that I can call; what can I do to make it stop until tomorrow?
Answer: Use the ice packs as described in the article. If you do not have ice packs available you can also use ice wrapped up in a washcloth, or even a bag of frozen vegetables like peas or corn.
Question: My dog ran full speed into my shin and her nose (I think, though it could’ve been her lip) started bleeding. She licked it and had some water and it stopped immediately. She’s acting normally, but should I be concerned?
Answer: It is most likely just mild trauma to the soft tissue in the nose. If your dog is now breathing okay and there is no further bleeding there is nothing to be concerned about. If this happens again, be sure to keep some cold packs in the freezer, as described in the article.
Question: My dog just got hit by a car and her nose is bleeding. We put some ice on it, and it seems to be working. We are worried about her. What can you suggest?
Answer: I have an article here on how to use ice packs to stop bleeding: https://hubpages.com/dogs/epistaxis-canine-causes-...
If your dog is still bleeding and getting pale gums, he will need additional care so please consult your local vet.
Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on September 02, 2020:
Nikki, if the dog ate the rat, and the poison, the only possibility is to get her to the vet for a Vitamin K injection. In the meantime use this article to control the nosebleed.
Nikii on September 01, 2020:
My dog into a fight with the rat and i think the rat has rat poison when the incident was done my dog starts to sneeze with blood then got severe nose bleeding. After we stop the nose bleeding she started vomiting with blood. What should i do, im really worried and could not sleep for she can't breathe properly.
Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 01, 2020:
Kat--the first aid as it is written in the artilce.
Ramencar-because of those symptoms your dog may have a tumor. Have him checked out by your local vet.
Ramencar on June 29, 2020:
My dogs is actually experiencing a nosebleeding, lack of appetite, sneezing with blood, and sometimes coughing. Can you give me some advice that can help in my dog situation? I hope you can notice and respond to my question. Thank you
Kat on June 28, 2020:
My mom's service dog started sneezing and his nose started bleeding like really bad. We are in a small town and have emergency vet in town. What do we do?
Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on January 11, 2020:
Simuoko, all I can suggest is that you follow the instructions for a bloody nose in the article. I cannot tell if the bleeding is further down in the lungs, but if it is sometimes it helps to keep the dog up on his chest, not down on his side. You might need to prop him up with pillows, and you might need someone to stay with him to prop him up as needed.
Simuoko Naufahu on January 10, 2020:
My sin's puppy got hit by a car. We are scared it might die but we dont want him to. My son is so sad and he is crying.
His nose is bleeding but not much. Our vet here dont work at weekends. What can we do? Please help.
Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on January 09, 2020:
Hi Annie I am busy and it usually takes me a few days to get to these comments, so I am sorry if I am answering too late. I cannot tell you how bad things are with that puppy without an exam. All you can do is stop the obvious bleeding, keep the puppy comfortable, and make sure that he is warm and has plenty to drink. If she was taken to the vet she would most likely be put on fluids and given glucocorticoids for the shock.
Annie on January 07, 2020:
There is a stray puppy in our area and she got hit by a car. There is no vet nearby and I don't know what to do. I've wrapped her up in a blanket and applied an ice pack on her nose to stop the bleeding. She's unconscious and breathing very fast. Can you please tell what can I do to save her
Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 13, 2019:
Mark, bleeding from one nostril, both nostrils, other symtpoms, etc? It may be as simple as a periodontal infection and he will do better with a dental cleaning. You really need to take him in for an exam by your regular vet.
Mark on July 12, 2019:
Hello Dr. Mark, I would like to ask what can I do to heal my dog, he has epistaxis, I can see a wound on his gums/tooth.
malou on May 14, 2019:
a pleasant evening , i have a question about our pet she is a japanese spit dog she has nose bleeding.
Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on December 06, 2018:
Surbhi, I have no idea what you mean by "bugging the noose." If you want to rephrase the question I will help your dog if I can.
Surbhi on December 06, 2018:
My dog has been bugging the noose since last 1 month. Everything was done but bleeding did not stop. Please some medicine Tell me
Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 16, 2018:
Hi Stefani it sounds like a very excited puppy you have there! Yes, trauma like that could certainly cause her nose to bleed. Hold her head up and you may not even need the ice packs, but be sure to check that she is breathing okay with blood in the nose.
Stefani rader on July 16, 2018:
My dog runs into a wall when she is playing with us. Could that cause her nose to bleed