Help! My Dog Has A Blood Blister?


So, you got Rover a new chew toy. One with an extra loud squeaker. You know, the type that makes him tilt his head and perk up those cute ears every time it makes a sound. Needless to say, he loves it. Just look at him go, chewing that thing for all he’s worth!

Then, the next day, he’s panting after a run, tongue lolling. As they do. You notice a dark spot on that pink tongue and wonder, what on earth? Surely, that can’t be a tick, right? So, what is it? 

A quick Google search shows that it’s probably a blood blister. On his tongue? What the fudge?

Now what? Is it dangerous? Should you go to the vet? Should you pop it? Is it painful?

Say no more. We’ve got you covered.

What is a blood blister?

Blood blisters are little bumps on your skin that get filled with blood. They’re usually harmless and not necessarily painful (although they can be very painful). Blood blisters look like pockets of skin with dark blood inside, and they often appear black or purple.

Don’t confuse this with a common hematoma, which occurs when blood seeps into the surrounding tissue. In short, when you (or your fur kid) get a really hard knock somewhere on your body, it causes the blood vessels to burst. This blood then seeps into the surrounding tissue, causing a large bruise, similar to when you get a black eye. It’s not a blister, and the skin probably won’t be raised. 

To make things just a bit confusing, blisters are often classified as a type of hematoma. Because English.

What are they also known as?

Blood blisters go by many names, and some of them sound ominous. Here are a few:

–          Coma blister

–          Delayed blister

–          Fracture blister

–          Edema blister

–          Friction blister

–          Sucking blister

Yup, you read that right. A sucking blister. What a name!

What causes blood blisters?

Blood blisters are usually caused by friction, similar to their clear counterparts. When a part of your skin experiences a lot of friction, it usually forms a blister filled with clear fluid. In some cases, blood vessels in that area burst, causing blood to mix with the clear fluid. This is when a blood blister would form. A fresh blood blister would typically appear red, but the color darkens over time, turning dark red or even purple.

Friction is a bit generic, so let’s narrow it down. Commonly, when your fur kid goes wild with the scratching, he could irritate his skin to the point of forming a blood blister. This is typically around the ears. That area doesn’t have as much hair as the rest of his body. The layer of hair sometimes acts as a barrier, protecting him from his own sharp nails.

Where can they be found on a dog’s body?

You can find a blood blister just about anywhere excessive pressure was applied to your pup’s skin. This could be from getting pinched, rubbing on something, or stepping on something just sharp enough to hurt but not sharp enough to cut the skin. Common areas include their paws, bellies, legs, ears, between their toes, and even on their tongues. Yup, that’s what happens when Rover gets a bit too energetic with his new chew toy

It might sound crazy that blood blisters can be found just about anywhere on your pup’s body, but hear me out. When he plays, things often get a bit rowdy. He jumps over a log that’s just a tad too high and pinches his belly. Or, gets a bit too into his chew toy, so he bites his tongue. He could be running in the park and stepping in a stick or stone that’s positioned just right, pinching his paws. Any of these, like a gazillion other scenarios, could cause a blood blister.

How can they be treated?

Blood blisters are usually not severe and don’t need treatment. They will likely heal independently without any intervention, but it could take weeks or even months. In severe cases, however, your pup will need veterinary care. They could experience seizures, comas, organ failure, neurological damage, pain, and incontinence in this situation. Severe cases are extremely rare and usually, go along with secondary infections. So, don’t panic. Rover is probably fine.

Here’s the downside: if the blood blister is painful, or if your pup continues to scratch at it, it will probably get worse. A typical example is when Rover has ear mites. These pesky fiends cause your fur kid’s ears to itch like there’s no tomorrow, so he’s constantly scratching at them. This causes a blood blister to form. Now, he’s at risk of cutting the blister with his nails, which could lead to secondary infection and all sorts of nasty side effects.

So, If you see your pup constantly scratching at the area where the blood blister is, or if you think it’s painful, it’s best to take him to the vet. Your vet will have a look and determine the best course of action. Here are the typical options:

–          Drain the blister. It might refill with blood, depending on the situation.

–          Prevent blood from filling up the blister again through temporary drainage.

–          Surgery, while Rover is knocked out with anesthesia. Here, the vet will drain the blister, remove any blood clots that formed, and suture the are so blood can’t re-enter the blister.

–          If the blood blister was in your pup’s ear, they could be bandaged to prevent them from slapping against his head. He’ll probably get one of those super fashionable Elizabethan collars as well to prevent him from scratching at the wound.

If your pup has a small blood blister and doesn’t look like it will cause any problems, leave it alone. Don’t poke at it or try to drain it on your own. This could lead to secondary infections and cause way more trouble than it’s worth. When in doubt, call the vet.

How long will they last?

Blood blisters can take weeks, or even months, to heal on their own. If you take your pup to the vet for treatment, recovery is typically faster, although it depends on the situation.

How can they be prevented?

Some blood blisters can undoubtedly be prevented, although you’d be hard-pressed to prevent all of them. Blisters caused by scratching can usually be prevented by solving itchy problems like ear mites, dermatitis, and allergies. All the things that drive your pup to scratch up a storm.

What is the difference between a tick and a blood blister?

A tick is a parasite that sucks up your fur kid’s blood. It latches onto the skin, sucking blood until it is full, or removed, whichever comes first. A blood blister is a skin injury. So, they’re not at all the same. 

If the blood blister is small and hard, it could look like a tick until you look closely. If you’re not sure, have the vet take a look.

How are blood blisters different from vascular tumors?

Vascular tumors are lumps that develop from blood vessels. These could be inside the body where we can’t see them or near the skin. In some cases, they could look like blood blisters, but they’re not. These tumors are a type of cancer. Some are benign, and they don’t spread, while others are dangerous, and they spread.

Again, if you see something fishy on your pup’s skin and you’re not sure what it is, take him to the vet for a check-up.

What other types of blisters might dogs get?

Dogs get all kinds of weird and wonderful things on their skin. Some are benign and go away within a day, while others are more serious and require medical attention. Here are the most common blisters dogs get:

–          Pyodermas. This is a symptom of bacterial skin infection. It’s not contagious, but it causes an insane amount of itching and can lead to secondary infections.

–          Skinfold dermatitis. This is a type of allergic reaction especially prevalent in bulldogs. When left untreated, your fur kid can get seriously ill from it.

–          Cutaneous lymphoma. This type of skin cancer causes itchy ulcers, red skin, and nodules. In some cases, it’s incurable.

Closing Thoughts

Blood blisters are surprisingly common in dogs and can be caused by many things. Usually, a blood blister forms where the skin experiences friction or is pinched. This could happen when your pup scratches himself too much, bites his own tongue, steps on something sharp, or gets chafed by something. Blood blisters can be found all over your pup’s body, most commonly around his ears, on his tongue, and on his feet

Blood blisters aren’t necessarily painful and can often heal on their own. That said, if your pup scratches at them continuously, he could cut them, causing a painful infection. So, if you notice your pup scratching at what looks like a blood blister, take him to the vet for a check-up. The vet will recommend treatment, which ranges from draining the blister to surgery.