Tourniquets and pets

Video 23 of 54
3 min 38 sec
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With amputation-type wounds like this one, this is going to be very tricky to stop this bleeding, and direct pressure is going to do nothing. By all means, try it to start with, but it's not going to be enough to stop this flow of blood. Even haemostatic dressing may be too difficult to apply here. It's a struggle to get it into the wound. By all means, try it if you have the haemostatic dressing. In other cases, you will not have any haemostatic agent or a haemostatic dressing, and you can then think about using a tourniquet.

The idea of a tourniquet is that you are going to put pressure above where the bleed is, and you are going to stop the blood flow through all the vessels supplying this limb here. So you want something tight. You want to make sure you do not apply the tourniquet over a joint, and you want to make sure that you are applying it quite high up on the leg. So even if you had an amputation wound much lower down on the limb, you would still apply the tourniquet quite high up. There are various tourniquets that you can get. There are some that are proper tourniquets like this one. And the idea is that you wrap this around the limb, thread it through here, and pull it as tight as you can. Now, this one has a little timer on it. So once you press this through and fit the tourniquet, it's going to start timing, and you have got here half an hour up to an hour because it's really important that you know how long the tourniquet has been on. This action of the tourniquet is stopping blood flow to the limb. And if it's on for too long, there is a chance that the blood flow is never going to return to that limb, and the limb will be lost. And also, never remove it until you are safely within a hospital where the animal can be anaesthetised, and the problem managed properly.

In a lot of situations, you will not have a tourniquet. And so you need to think about what else you can do that is going to apply enough pressure to stop that bleeding. This is where the triangular bandage comes in that we spoke about before. It does not have a lot of give in it, and when you tighten it, it will stay where you have put it. The idea with this, is you are going to tie off as tightly as you can. And this will probably not be enough, so there will still be dripping of blood. You know it's enough when the blood flow has stopped. And if it has not, you still need to make it tighter. So you can do a knot as tightly as you can, and then you are going to think, "How am I going to make this dressing tighter?" You can use something like a pen or a knife, something that you can slide in underneath the bandage, and then you are going to start to twist that knife. So you are twisting the bandage and making it tighter and tighter. And you know it's tight enough when the bleeding has stopped. And then what you can do is use the ends of the bandage to tie that tourniquet around where you have placed it, so that it does not get un-twisted easily. This also means that should you need to tighten it again because the beading has started again, you can easily undo it and twist again to tighten up that tourniquet.

A tourniquet is not something you would use very frequently. It's only when everything else you have tried has not stopped the bleeding, because the risk of losing the limb once you have placed to tourniquet is quite high. So these are not something that you would use in every situation. And I would suggest speaking to a vet before you even start to put this on. This is an emergency, life-saving procedure.