First Aid for Dogs

What to Do in Emergency Situations

Even the most vigilant of dog owners, find themselves in an emergency situations from time to time. If it is not possible to get to the vet immediately, or if the nearest vet is some distance away it is important to be prepared and know how to handle the situation if interim first aid is needed. This guide, you teach you how to prepare a first-aid kit for your dog and what to do in a variety of emergencies.

In the case of an emergency, when your dog requires immediate attention, the Doggle mobile website can locate your position and then give you the phone numbers and directions to the closest veterinarian’s in the area.

The Doggle mobile site can be downloaded to your home-screen on your mobile phone in 5 simple steps. Follow this link to learn more about this feature.

Dog Health and First Aid

Assembling a First-Aid Kit

Having a first-aid kit for your dog is important. You can assemble one from easily purchasable items:

  • Aspirin
  • Bandage scissors
  • Bandage tape
  • Betadine solution
  • Cortisone cream
  • Disposable Latex gloves
  • An emergency veterinary hospital’s phone number
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Kaolin product (Kaopectate)
  • Large and small nonstick bandage pads
  • Local poison-control center phone number
  • Mineral oil
  • Petroleum jelly (Vaseline)
  • Pressure bandages
  • Quick muzzle
  • Rectal thermometer
  • Self-adhesive wrap (VetWrap or ElastoPlast)
  • Sterile gauze wrappings
  • Sterile sponges
  • Surgical glue or VetBond (available through veterinary-supply catalogs)
  • Syrup of ipecac
  • Triple antibiotic ointment or nitrofurizone (available through veterinary-supply catalogs)
  • Tweezers
  • Unflavored pediatric electrolyte (Pedialyte)
  • Your veterinarian’s phone number, pager, or after-hours number

Know How to Muzzle Your Dog

In an emergency, you may have to muzzle your dog. Even the gentlest dog may bite if frightened or injured. Have a quick muzzle (sold in pet-supply stores and through mail order) available. If you don’t have one, you can fashion a makeshift muzzle from a bandage, a rope, a belt, or a tie.

Follow these steps:

  1. Start in the middle at the bottom of the dog’s muzzle.
  2. Wrap the bandage upward, tie, and then bring it back downward under the chin and tie..
  3. Take the two loose ends and tie them behind the dog’s head securely.

Broken Bones or Hit by a Car

Fractures to the head, chest, or back may be life-threatening. Use a stiff board to transport the dog (slide the board under the dog) and seek immediate veterinary attention. If your dog has broken his leg, you can fashion a splint from a stick, a rolled-up piece of stiff cardboard, or even a rolled-up newspaper. Put the splint alongside the broken leg and wrap either VetWrap or tape around it. Transport your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

Burns

A severe burn, where the skin is charred or where underlying tissue is exposed, requires immediate veterinary attention. You can treat minor burns over a small area with ice packs or cold water. Do not use water on extensive burns or you may risk shock. Aloe vera is a good burn treatment after the burn has blistered.

Choking or Difficulty Breathing

Signs of choking and breathing difficulty include gagging, coughing, gums and tongue turning pale or blue, and wheezing. Do not muzzle your dog. Loosen your dog’s collar and anything else that might restrict breathing. Check his throat for any object caught in the throat. If you see something that you can remove with tweezers, do so. Do not use your fingers; you can accidentally push the item farther down. If the item is lodged in the throat, try pushing on the dog’s abdomen to expel the object. Seek immediate veterinary attention.

If the dog is not breathing, give it mouth-to-mouth resuscitation by closing the dog’s mouth and breathing into its nose. Ask your veterinarian how to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation correctly, as well as CPR.

Cuts, Injuries, and Dog Bites

You can clean minor cuts and scrapes yourself with a 10 percent Betadine/90 percent water solution. Then apply a triple antibiotic ointment and watch for signs of infection.

For deep puncture wounds, determine how deep the puncture is. If the object is still embedded, do not remove if practical and seek immediate veterinary treatment. If the puncture is a dog bite that is not serious, you can clean the wound with a Betadine/water solution. Your veterinarian might want to prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection.

Dehydration and Heat Stroke

Dehydration can occur during any season. Signs of dehydration and heat stroke include elevated temperature, extreme thirst, watery diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, high temperature (over 103°F), skin around muzzle or neck that does not snap back when pinched, difficulty breathing, weakness, and pale gums.

Do not muzzle the dog. Move him into the shade or a cool and well-ventilated area. Give him cool water or unflavored pediatric electrolyte to drink. Soak the dog in tepid or cool water. Do not use ice-cold water because it will cause the capillaries to contract and not dissipate heat. Make certain the dog can breathe—remove constricting collars or other items. Obtain immediate veterinary attention.

Prevent heat stroke by keeping your dog in well-ventilated areas with shade in the summertime. Always provide fresh water. Do not exercise your dog in hot weather. Never leave a dog in a car during warm weather, even with the windows down.

Electrical Shock

Dogs can usually get electric shocked through powerpoints, and by chewing live cords. If your dog is still touching the item that is shocking him, do not touch your dog or you might be shocked also. Use a wooden broom handle or other nonconductive item to unplug the cord. Treat as you would for traumatic shock by maintaining proper body temperature and seek emergency veterinary treatment. Administer mouth-to-mouth resuscitation by closing the dog’s mouth and breathing into its nose if the dog is not breathing.

Fish Hooks

Fishhooks are nasty. If your dog has stepped on one or had one pierce her lips, bring her to a vet. If no vet is available, you may have to muzzle your dog and look for where the hook’s barb is. Push the barb through the skin if necessary to expose it and then snip it off with a pair of wire cutters. Then remove the hook. Contact your vet; he or she may wish to prescribe antibiotics. Only your veterinarian should remove swallowed fishhooks.

Frostbite and Hypothermia

Signs of hypothermia include lowered body temperature, shivering, and lethargy, followed by stupor, shock, unconsciousness, and finally death. Lack of food for energy and dehydration can greatly affect your dog’s ability to keep warm. Dogs expend energy and heat while working, but if the heat loss is too great, your dog may experience hypothermia.

Treatment for hypothermia is mostly common sense. Warm your dog slowly by wrapping him in blankets or lying next to him in blankets to help warm him. If he is conscious, you should offer him warm broth to drink. Seek immediate veterinary attention.

Frostbite is where the skin is damaged as a result of cold. The skin will turn white if frostbitten. If severely frostbitten, the skin will actually turn black. Sometimes the affected skin will slough, leaving a raw sore. If the skin is white and intact, warm it slowly in tepid water (not hot—you can damage the skin further). It will be painful to warm the skin. In frostbite with sores, wrap with an antibiotic ointment and gauze. In all cases of frostbite, seek veterinary attention.

Insect Bites and Stings

You can treat most insect bites and stings with an over-the-counter antihistamine that your veterinarian can recommend. If your dog shows any allergic reactions to bites or stings (severe swelling or difficulty breathing), seek immediate veterinary attention. This can be a life-threatening condition known as an anaphylactic reaction.

Spider bites can be very serious. If you suspect a spider has bitten your dog, seek veterinary attention.

Poisoning

If the animal is awake and alert:

  • Do NOT induce vomiting
  • If the product is corrosive or irritating, make water available
  • Call your local Poisons Center (0800 764 766) or Vet.

If the animal is unconscious, having difficulty breathing, or having a seizure: Take the animal to the vet immediately


In the case of an emergency, when your dog requires immediate attention, the Doggle mobile website can locate your position and then give you the phone numbers and directions to the closest veterinarian’s in the area.

The Doggle mobile site can be downloaded to your home-screen on your mobile phone in 5 simple steps. Follow this link to learn more about this feature.

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