First Aid

Canine First Aid

The most practical thing you should know prior to having to perform First Aid on your dog is that your beloved pet could bite you while he is in pain. A Quick Muzzle is advised and is best suited for these situations.

Know the location of the nearest Animal Emergency Facility.

Too many owners wait until there is an emergency before trying to locate an Emergency Facility. Veterinarians do not work 24 hours a day, and these locations should be readily known to you. Ask your veterinarian what procedure he uses in the case of off-duty emergencies. This little bit of time could mean the difference between life and death for your beloved pet.

  This list is in alphabetical order and not the order of importance.

Some dogs may have a reaction to bee stings or other insect bites. If your dog is having a reaction, you may administer Benedryl at a rate of ½ mg per pound of body weight. This may slow the reaction and calm the dog.

Severe reactions may include watery and itching eyes, swollen face, sneezing, difficulty in breathing, and/or unconsciousness. Transport him to your veterinarian or emergency facility immediately.

Minor lacerations can be flushed with .9% sodium chloride and betadine solution or chlorhexidine solution. If these are not available, then lacerations may be flushed with clean water and washed with antibacterial soap. Flushing should continue until all visible foreign material such as dirt and debris are removed. After flushing the wound, an antibiotic ointment and a bandage should be applied.

Severe lacerations may involve injury to muscles, tendons, ligaments and/or blood vessels. To control bleeding, apply direct pressure to the wound using your hand and gauze pads or clean cloth. If there is any doubt about a laceration needing sutures, cover the wound and bring the dog to the veterinarian for treatment.

Internal bleeding can be caused by an external injury, disease, or infection. Generally, there is no sign of bleeding, but symptoms such as fainting, rapid or shallow breathing, or a weak pulse are indicators of an internal problem. Blood may sometime be visible in urine or feces, or expelled from the nose or mouth. If any of these signs or symptoms are visible to you, bring your dog to your veterinarian immediately.

Bloat occurs within minutes, so time is of the essence. Bloat is more commonly seen in larger breeds, but can occur in any breed. Common cause of bloat is allowing a dog to run or exercise directly after eating. The solid, heavy, undigested food causes the stomach to flip over, twisting the intestines closed. Gas cannot escape, and begins to build in the stomach.

Signs of Bloat include burping, enlarged abdomen, pacing, heavy panting, growling stomach, attempted vomiting, and heavy salivation. The dog will refuse to lie down due to the pain caused by the prone position. The dog will continually turn to check his rear and may lick at the anus. Transport him to veterinarian or emergency facility immediately. Surgery is almost always needed.

To assist your dog's breathing (resuscitation), pull the tongue out of his mouth. Clear the throat of any obstructions. Keep his neck and head as straight in-line as possible without causing any further injury. Close his mouth, and making a seal around his nose, give two(2) full breaths. If the breaths go in easily, continue with the assisted breathing at a rate of 10 to 15 breaths per minute, and transport to the nearest veterinarian or animal emergency room. If there is difficulty getting the breaths to go in, check the dog's mouth for any foreign objects which may be lodged there. Remove them and begin the breathing again. If there aren't any objects, or attempts to assist with breathing are still not going in, make a fist with one hand, and place it against the stomach. With both hands, lift the dog so that his rear legs are off the ground. Give 3-5 sharp, rapid, upward thrusts. Reposition the head and neck and attempt breathing again.

Due to high risk of internal infection, burns should not be treated with any topical solutions. Instead, use cold water or ice on the burn, cover the area and transport to your veterinarian or emergency facility.

For medium to large dogs, stand with your legs astride the animal. Make a fist with one hand, and place it against the stomach. With both hands, lift the dog so that his rear legs are off the ground. Give 3-5 sharp, rapid, upward thrusts. Do this in a manner as if you were trying to propel the lodged object 10 feet away from you. If the object is not expelled after these thrusts, inspect the dog's mouth to see if the object is visible. Do this by carefully pulling the dog's tongue out of his mouth and looking inside. If it is visible, remove it with your fingers.

For small dogs you must sit down and place them astride one knee so that their stomach is against your knee. With your hands on their back, carefully give 3-5 sharp thrusts downward against your knee. You must use caution so as not to cause any back injuries. Follow the above procedure.

The majority of foot injuries occur to the foot pad, which cannot be sutured. Apply pressure to the wound until all bleeding stops. Bandaging the foot is advisable, however, most dogs will chew the bandage off of the foot. Another method of protecting the injury is to apply Super Glue to the outer edges of the injury and hold the wound closed until the glue dries. Caution must be taken to avoid gluing yourself to the dog. Once the glue has dried, the dog may move about freely, allowing the wound to be protected. As the wound heals, the glue will wear off through normal walking.

Fractures can be temporarily stabilized by wrapping a rigid splint to the fractured site or by applying a thick padded bandage. Make the splint or bandages extend above and below the fracture. Be careful not to wrap the splint too tightly. Any swelling of the foot on the fractured leg may be an indication that the splint is too tight. Loosen the splint slightly and observe the swelling. If the swelling begins to reduce, do not readjust the splint. Open or compound fractures where the bone may be seen exiting a wound, should receive medical attention immediately.

All gun shot wounds should be examined by a veterinarian. Dogs that have been hit by long range shotgun blasts will generally be minor in urgency as the pellets will lodge beneath the skin without causing any internal injury. Handgun and rifle injuries produce a stronger force of penetration and may be life threatening. Even if there is an entrance and exit wound which appear as if it has passed through cleanly, there is a great deal of tissue damage that is not seen. Bones and cartilage may have been broken or splintered which may cause further harm and infection. Attempt to stop all bleeding and transport the dog to your veterinarian or emergency facility.

If your pet sustains a head injury that renders him unconscious, do not attempt to revive him. Place a cold cloth on his head and transport to your veterinarian or emergency facility. As they revive, disorientation is common.

The most common signs of a heat stroke include rapid panting, fast heart rate, red and dry mucous membranes and possible vomiting and/or diarrhea. Dogs may appear weak and/or disoriented. The most important first aid that can be administered is to cool the dog. Soak the dog with cool water in a bath tub or pond. Continue to soak the dog until you obtain a rectal temperature reading of 103 degrees Fahrenheit. In the field, cooling the dog may also be accomplished by wetting down the under sides of the legs, closest to the body, and the neck and nasal areas. If the dog will drink, give him pediatric electrolytes. Severe effects of a heat stroke can be seen after the temperature is lowered, so it is recommended that the dog be checked by a veterinarian.

The very first thing to do is place a Quick Muzzle on your dog. Well-meaning efforts may be misread by him causing him to bite out of fear, disorientation, and pain. Do not attempt to stabilize any fractures. Gather any dismembered parts and bring them with you. Keep any parts and the dog warm with a blanket or jacket. Place him on a rigid board and transport him to your veterinarian or emergency facility immediately. Place a tourniquet on any areas of severe bleeding.

Poisoning can occur from insecticides, lye, cleaning fluids, certain varieties of plants, and automobile antifreeze. Antifreeze is extremely dangerous due to its sweet taste, and the small amount required to cause death. If you know what your dog has ingested, you may be instructed to induce vomiting. This can be accomplished by orally administering syrup of ipecac or about four ounces of hydrogen peroxide. Some poisons such as petroleum products, acids, caustic chemicals, or alkaloids are more dangerous if vomiting is induced. Follow the advice of your veterinarian or contact the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline for Animals

If you suspect that your pet may have been exposed to something toxic, either internally or externally, this phone number will connect you with an ASPCA veterinarian specially trained to assist pet owners or other veterinarians. This is the only dedicated animal poison control hotline in the world manned by veterinarians, not telephone operators. The number is staffed 24 hours a day, seven (7) days a week. (888) 4ANI-HELP or (888) 426-4435

Dogs have a Carotid Pulse, but it is difficult to palpate. To obtain a pulse place your fingers in the inner crease of the femur, located on the hind leg just below the groin and above the stifle, and press lightly against the bone. You should be able to feel a pulse.

Any wound that has penetrated the thorax or abdomen should be treated by a veterinarian immediately. If the object causing the wound is still intact, do not remove it from the wound. Simply protect the wound as much as possible by wrapping a gauze around the object next to the wound and bring the dog to the nearest veterinarian or emergency clinic. In the case of a sucking wound, one where you can actually hear air escaping the wound, cover the wound with a cloth coated with Furacine Ointment or Petroleum Jelly and seal off the wound. Get to a veterinarian or emergency clinic immediately.

Dogs may go into shock due to injury, loss of blood or exposure. Treat shock by keeping the dog warm and comfortable. Never give any medication to a dog that appears to be in shock. Symptoms of shock are cold to the touch, labored breathing, gums appear white in color, and may be unconscious. Transport him to your veterinarian or emergency facility immediately.

Most venomous snakes inject toxins that cause tissue necrosis(dying tissue). Local signs include bleeding puncture wounds, severe pain, and swelling at the site. Swelling may be minimal. Tissue in the affected area may then become necrotic and be sloughed off or require debridement (surgical removal). The best course of action is to bring the dog to a veterinarian immediately. Severe systemic effects, infection and death may occur. In the field, 10-25mg (approximately ½ mg per pound) of Benedryl can be given and may serve to calm the dog. Infections are another common problem with snake bites and may require treatment with systemic antibiotics.

This is often overlooked as the cause of personality or temperament changes. A normally happy-go-lucky dog suddenly turns into an aggressive animal. Temperament change is one of the signs of stress. Others include, but are not limited to: loss of attention, slow responses to commands, loss of appetite, and diarrhea. Causes of stress can result from over training, over working, unpredictable situations, dog shows, crowds and unfamiliar surroundings. The latter is generally seen after moving your home to another location. Proper nutrition and socialization will help to reduce stress.