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K-9 STOP THE BLEED

Hi Tribe!

This is an article about Trauma Medicine for Dogs. I will share with you some information about how to control massive bleeding.

In emergency situations involving dogs, the prompt and effective control of massive bleeding can make a critical difference in saving the lives of our four-legged heroes. Whether it's an injury sustained in the line of duty or an unfortunate accident, understanding and employing proper techniques such as tourniquets and wound packing can provide crucial aid to prevent excessive blood loss. In this article, we will explore the importance of these techniques and how they can be applied to control massive bleeding in K-9 units.



The Significance of Quick Bleeding Control Massive bleeding is a life-threatening condition that can occur due to a severe injury or trauma. The primary objective in such situations is to stop or significantly reduce blood loss to prevent hypovolemic shock, organ failure, and ultimately, the loss of life. This holds true for both humans and our furry companions. Tourniquets: A Vital Tool A tourniquet is a device used to constrict the blood flow in an extremity, typically an arm or leg, by applying pressure to a specific point. When faced with a K-9 suffering from massive bleeding, applying a tourniquet proximal to the wound can help control hemorrhage quickly and effectively. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Identify the bleeding site: Locate the source of bleeding and ensure the tourniquet is placed above the wound as possible while still being effective.

  2. Select an appropriate tourniquet: Use a commercially available tourniquet designed for use on animals but you can also use tourniquets like SWAT-T or Elastic Wrap. The special K-9 Tourniquets are typically adjustable and easy to apply, ensuring optimal pressure and minimizing discomfort for the K-9.

  3. Apply the tourniquet correctly: Position the tourniquet high and tight on the limb, ensuring it is wide enough to avoid causing additional damage to nerves and soft tissues. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper usage.

  4. Document the application: Record the time of tourniquet application. This information is essential for medical professionals who may need to remove or adjust the tourniquet later.

Wound Packing: Controlling Bleeding at the Source Wound packing is another critical technique used to control bleeding in both humans and canines. It involves the insertion of sterile gauze or a specialized hemostatic agent into the wound cavity to promote clotting and control bleeding. When applied correctly, wound packing can help manage bleeding until the injured K-9 can receive proper medical attention. Here are some key considerations when using wound packing techniques:

  1. Gather necessary supplies: Have sterile gauze or a hemostatic agent readily available in your emergency kit. The hemostatic agent should be specifically designed for animal use.

  2. Assess the wound: Determine the extent and location of the wound. If possible, clean the wound gently with sterile saline or clean water before proceeding.

  3. Pack the wound: Place sterile gauze or the hemostatic agent directly into the wound cavity, ensuring it reaches the deepest part of the injury. Apply direct pressure to promote clot formation.

  4. Secure the packing: Bandage the wound tightly to maintain pressure on the packed area, preventing further bleeding. Use an elastic or self-adhesive bandage, ensuring it is not too tight to impede circulation.

  5. Seek professional help: While wound packing can temporarily control bleeding, it is crucial to transport the injured K-9 to a veterinarian for further evaluation and treatment as soon as possible.

For wound packing technique please check the video training on the TRAUMA MEDICINE | Tribe 13 section.

The technique is the same both for humans and dogs.


Below is an extract from the Deployed Medicine manual "Canine/K9 Tactical Combat Casualty (K9TCCC) Guidelines"


Massive Hemorrhage


  • Assess for unrecognized hemorrhage and control all sources of external bleeding with manual or direct pressure via application of hemostatic agents, pressure bandages and/or wound packing as first line intervention.

  • Apply hemostatic dressings with at least 3 minutes of direct pressure . Each dressing works differently, so if one fails to control bleeding, it may be removed and a fresh dressing of the same type or a different type applied.

  • Junctional wounds should be treated with aggressive application and packing with hemostatic, pressure dressings and direct pressure to control bleeding.

* CoTCCC recommended windlass, limb tourniquets designed for humans (e.g. C-A-T, SOFTT-W) tend to slip distally and generally fail on MWDs due to conformational differences and should not be used as first line therapy for hemorrhage control in MWDs. * The only tourniquet that should be considered for use on a massive extremity hemorrhage in a MWD’s is a stretchable and elastic tourniquet such as the SWAT-T. This type of material allows it to mold to nearly any limb size and conformation in conjunction with its wide design, allows it to serve as an effective circumferential pressure bandage on an MWD’s limb. *Junctional tourniquets have not been evaluated in dogs and are not recommended at this time.


Stay safe Tribe!


2 Comments


Great instruction.

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“Aspen” Rage
“Aspen” Rage
Jul 02, 2023

Great article!

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