First aid for bruises
- 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