Dogs like people can be prone to accidents at any time. There are specific dog breed types that are so energetic, playful and aggressive that they want to do almost any activity and this tends to lead to injuries. Knowing basic first aid for dogs can really save their life when they’ve had an accident. Pet owners must learn the basics of first aid and know what to do when their pet suffers an injury. In an emergency, your knowledge of first aid might mean the difference between life and death for your dog.
Having first aid knowledge can be really useful especially in times of need. With a little research and a first aid kit, you will know what to do during an injury to respond to the needs of your dog. Remember injured animals can react differently than normal, so you also need to be careful during the process to avoid being bitten.
Here are some of the first aid tips that you can use to help your dog when it is in need of treatment:
Treating an allergy
Allergies are reactions to chemicals, drugs, something eaten, or even sunlight. They are usually not life-threatening and will go away by themselves. Unfortunately, there are dogs that are quite sensitive and have certain allergies.
Once an allergy has been triggered, it may lead to other conditions like heavy or trouble breathing or at the worst – anaphylactic shock.
Antihistamines are generally the best treatment; but if severe, steroids are sometimes given. Just be sure that you do not give any medicine without really knowing its usage and dosage as it can cause more harm to your pet.
Your vet will be able to supply you with a low dose of antihistamines to keep in your first aid kit and advise you the dosage.
Perform basic resuscitation on your pet
If your dog is in need of resuscitation, let the animal lie on its side, open the mouth, and pull the tongue forward to check for any obstructions. Lift the dogs head slightly so that their airway is clear.
This is a basic aspect of first aid that you can do for your pet.
To help your dog start breathing again, point the nose forward, hold the mouth and blow air into the nose twice and perform 30 chest compressions.Make sure you only blow lightly as a full blow of air could over inflate their lungs. If you have a small dog the breath is very small, and larger dogs should have a larger breath. Check that their chest rises when you blow air in to their lungs.
If there is no heartbeat, compress the dog’s chest just behind the front legs, while giving two breaths into the nose for every 30 chest compressions. Keep repeating and call a vet immediately.
How to perform CPR on your dog
This video explains how to resuscitate your dog using cpr
What to do when your dog is choking
The Heimlich procedure for both large & small dogs:
- Kneel behind the dog, so the dog is facing away from you.
- Place your arms around the dog’s waist/abdomen.
- Use the knuckles of one hand and place them just below your dog’s last set of ribs on the soft part of the abdomen.
- Place your other hand flat on the dog’s back to keep him steady.
- Give a quick, hard poke with your knuckles.
- Press in and up four to five times gently, in a thrusting motion–but no more than four to five times.
- Check the dog’s mouth and remove any objects that may have been dislodged during the procedure.
This video explains what to do
First aid for dogs
What to do when your dog is choking
What to do when your pet’s coat has been contaminated
If your dog’s coat has become contaminated, prevent the dog from licking the contamination substance. Use an Elizabethan collar (that looks like a lampshade) to clip off small areas of affected hair.
Remember to never use turpentine to remove paint on your dog. Washing your dog can be a safe and easy option to get rid of substances from your dog’s coat. In the event that the previous options still fail to work, the best option is to go to your veterinary practice. Your dog’s doctor will know exactly how to handle your dog’s coat contamination.
K9’s are often curious. Some may play with and even try biting electrical wires. Electrical accidents tend to occur when you cannot guard your dog at every minute of the day. If an electric shock happens it can be extremely dangerous.
If a high voltage supply is involved you need to keep away and call the police. Turn off all power in the house and use a non-metallic stick to push the dog away from the power source. Provide resuscitation in case breathing has stopped.. Call your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Performing first aid if your k9 has been in a fight
K9’s can be aggressive when it comes to other dogs or strange animals. Call the vet if your dog has been injured in a fight.
If there is puncture wounds to the head or body, it is important to consult a vet immediately. If Injuries are slight, take the dog to the vet within 24 hours, as antibiotics may be required.
Compress the wound if there is lots of bleeding by applying pressure to the area for 10 minutes or more. Take your puppy to the emergency vet as soon as possible. The dog first aid kit from the American red cross is a great little book to keep handy.
Be careful of heat stroke – it’s a silent killer
Now that summer is just around the corner, heat stroke is common not just among puppies but even to other animals. When it is hot, they are prone to suffer from heat stroke. Signs of heat stroke will include heavy breathing and panting. Remember dogs do not sweat so you shouldn’t wait for sweat before acting.
Advance stages of heat stroke may cause your pup to become drowsy and collapse. Although some may think that this is not dangerous, it can lead to severe dehydration which eventually leads to death. Place dogs in a cool location, wet their coats with tepid water and call your vet. Be sure not to use ice water.
It is best to provide plenty of water. Make sure puppy drinks enough water to keep hydrated all throughout the day, especially in the heat and never leave your dog in the car on a hot day. Even 10 minutes in the car on a sunny day can cause your dog to get dehydrated. This cooling mat worked wonders for us. It’s a must for hot summer days.
If you want a cooling vest for walks then check out this cooling vest from Ruffwear. It works wonders for those active mutts!
First aid for dogs when treating poisoning
Dogs like to eat and chew almost anything. Although they are careful, there might be cases where they have accidentally swallowed a poisonous substance. When this happens, see a vet right away. Show vet packaging of the substance the dog swallowed.
If chewing plants is the suspected culprit, try to identify the plant. Summon your vet as soon as possible. Poisoning can be treated but if it is severe, it can result in death. The important thing to remember is to make sure you act quickly when you suspect poisoning.
Signs of poisoning include vomiting, panting heavily and drowsiness.
First aid for bee and wasp stings
Pull out the sting below the poison sac. Be careful not to push the rest of the poison into the dog when you try and remove the sting. Using a sharp knife below the sac can help if you’re able to separate the fur from the skin.
Once you’ve removed the sting you can then bathe the area with water or utilize a bicarbonate of soda solution. Ice application will soothe soreness and your vet might recommend an antihistamine to help with the soreness and the swelling. A small dose of aspirin might help with the pain too.
Removing ticks from your dog
Removing ticks can be a tricky process. Ticks bore into the skin in a clockwise direction and to remove them from the dog you need to twist them in an anti-clockwise direction. The tick twister is the best product to remove a tick, period!
Simply pulling out the tick with your fingers may cause the tick’s head to break off in your dogs’ skin and it will then cause an infection. Do not use tweezers either as this will simply break the tick apart and leave the mouth area in the dogs’ skin.
We have found that the best tool to remove ticks is a specialized tick remover that looks like a crowbar. The small one works for smaller ticks and the bigger one works for larger ticks. Once you’ve placed the crowbar tick remover between the tick and the dogs skin you simply twist the remover in an anti-clockwise direction. This will remove the tick without breaking off the head in the dogs’ skin.
Minor wounds are easy to treat if you have the right first aid kit
Most wounds require an antibiotic remedy that can be prescribed by your vet. If there is bleeding, apply pressure to the wound and ensure that a saline solution is used to clean the area.
This will also remove debris and dirt from the wound. At home, first aid will do for small wounds, but if you notice that the wound is big and it does not stop bleeding, contact your vet as soon as possible. Follow the guidance above for treating bleeds.
Final thoughts when it comes to performing first aid for your dog
Emergency treatment and first aid for pets should never be used as a replacement for care from veterinarians.
However, it will go a long way in saving your pets’ lives before your pet reaches a vet clinic. Having some knowledge as to the right way of providing first aid can be really useful in many instances.
You should also keep in mind that you should still go to the vet’s clinic for the right diagnosis and treatment.