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First aid for bruises

photo of rabbits, cat and dog

Overview

  • Most bruises can be managed at home and heal within approximately two weeks.
  • However, multiple bruises or unexplained bruises can be a sign of a much more serious problem such as a bleeding/clotting disorder.
  • All bruises (no matter how small) should be monitored.
  • Always have your dog checked if they have any very large bruises, painful bruises or multiple, unexplained bruises.

What to do if your pet has a bruise

Step one: check your pet

  • If you notice a bruise on your pet, check them for any other bruises, any wounds and other signs of illness.
  • Multiple unexplained bruises can be a sign of a clotting/bleeding problem (which are rare but can be serious).
  • Bruises after an operation are common, but should be monitored closely.

Step two: cold compress

  • Cooling a new developing bruise can help reduce swelling and further bruising, but this is only helpful for new bruises, not old ones.
  • You can make a cold compress by wrapping an ice pack (or some frozen peas!) in a towel.
  • Place the cold pack gently on the bruise for ten minutes and stop if your pet becomes uncomfortable or distressed.
  • If your pet has had an operation, you can very gently put a cold compress on the area and carefully clean around the wound, but try not to touch the wound itself as this might stop it from healing.

Step three: monitor the bruise

  • All bruises should be monitored closely
  • Most disappear after about two weeks.

Step four: contact your vet

Contact your vet for advice if your pet has:

  • a very large or unexplained bruise
  • multiple bruises
  • a bruise that is growing quickly (especially after an operation), it might be completely normal but should be monitored
  • a very painful bruise
  • a bruise that has lasted more than two weeks.
Published: March 2020

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Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only.

Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst