Let's face it: getting blood drawn is never fun, and for dogs things are even more stressful considering that they don't know what is exactly going on. Whether a dog is getting blood drawn for a heartworm test, titer test or simply a yearly wellness exam, having blood drawn consists of inserting a needle through the skin so it can reach a vein, and therefore it's not unusual some times to see some "after effects" as early as later on during the day or the day afterward. So let's take a look at what vets have to say about what's normal and what's abnormal after a dog gets his blood drawn.
Dog Blood Collection Sites
When it comes to drawing blood from dogs, there are several locations that can be used. The preferred sites for getting blood drawn from dogs are usually three: the jugular vein , cephalic vein, and lateralsaphenous vein.
Using the jugular vein in the neck is often a preferred location considering that the dog's jugular vein is large and therefore it can be used for large blood collections for quick drawing.
Another advantage is that it allows the dog to have all feet on the ground and since there are very few nerve endings, which makes collection almost painless, points out veterinarian Dr. Louis Gotthelf.
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The cephalic vein, found in the dog's front leg is another good site that's often used in large dogs. A tourniquet is often applied so that it can be seen easier. Finally, the saphenuous vein is used, but generally as a last choice as it is a a fragile, small-diameter vein. Following are some "complications" that can occur after a dog's blood is drawn.
Dog's Leg Appears Bruised
At times, a dog's leg may appear bruised and discolored (like a back and blue) after having blood drawn, is this a sign of trouble? According to veterinarian Dr. Marie, this is quite a common occurrence, and it's more likely to occur when the technician drawing blood had some difficulty drawing it from the vein. The good news is that will tend to resolve within a few days. Something dog owners can do to help the bruised area is applying an ice pack on the area a few times a day.
Dog's Neck is Sore
When blood is taken from the dog's jugular vein, the dog's head needs to be tilted in an upward position. If a dog has neck pain after this procedure, there may be chances that he struggled a bit during the blood draw causing the muscles to become sore or perhaps an intervetebral disc in the neck was on the verge of bulging. This latter requires veterinarian attention as the pain may be severe, causing the dog to cry out in pain upon moving the neck.
Swelling in the Area
Sometimes, dogs may develop a swelling at the area where the blood was drawn. This swelling is known as a hematoma, and consists of a pouch filled with blood. This condition actually has an official name, it's known as a "venipuncture induced hematoma." As in people, it's important to apply pressure on the site after drawing blood so to help the blood clot and fill up the hole left from the needle. According to DVM360, maintaining gentle pressure over the venipuncture site for approximately three minutes should be enough to help minimize the risks for a hematoma to form.
Disclaimer: this article is not meant as a substitute for professional veterinary advice. If your dog is showing signs of a problem after having blood drawn, please report to your vet.