Knowing some basic first aid for your dog could be crucial should they have an accident or suddenly be taken ill at home. Do you feel prepared to deal with an emergency should something happen? Have a read of our useful guide as it really may come in handy. Please note that this advice and guidance should no way replace a veterinary visit or advice and we strongly encourage you to take your dog to the vets if any of these incidences occur.
Common dog emergencies and how to handle them
Symptoms: Difficulty breathing, blue lips or tongue, choking noises, excessive pawing at the mouth.
What to do: Look for any visible signs of blockage in your dog’s mouth. If you can safely remove the object without risk of pushing the obstruction further down your dog’s throat or without risk of getting bitten, gently ease the obstruction out. If you cannot dislodge the obstruction or if your dog goes limp, place both hands on the side of your dog’s ribcage and apply quick, firm pressure. You can also lay your dog on their side and strike the rib cage several times with the palm of your hand. Repeat this process until you dislodge the obstruction or until you arrive at the vets.
Symptoms: Difficulty breathing, panting, collapsing, quickened heart rate, reddened gums, increased temperature, excessive drooling.
What to do: Start cooling your dog down slowly but immediately. Laying a cool damp towel over their body will help. You can also apply cool water to their paws and ears. DO NOT try and cool your dog quickly by using ice cold water, ice cubes or a hose pipe. Open windows if you are inside and/or remove your dog away from any source of heat.
What to do: Call for a vet immediately and begin emergency first aid. Firstly, feel and listen for a heartbeat and then gently lay your dog on their side on a firm surface. Support their chest by placing one hand underneath and put your other hand over their heart (just behind the left front elbow). Press down on your pet's heart 100-120 times per minute. For larger animals you will need to press harder, and with less force for smaller ones). Alternate every 30 compressions with two rescue breaths. Do not stop this process until you either hear or feel a heartbeat or you have arrived at the vets
What to do: If you suspect broken bones, get to a vet immediately. Do not try to splint the break but do deal with any bleeding. Try and confine your dog to avoid further damage.
Symptoms: Shallow breathing, dazed eyes, collapsing, weakened pulse
What to do: Call the vet immediately. Lay your dog down and slightly elevate their hind legs to encourage blood flow to their heart.
What to do: Contact your vet immediately as severe bleeding can quickly become life threatening. Try to stem the bleeding by placing a clean cloth over the wound and hold pressure for 2-3 minutes and then check. You can apply a bandage to the wound and keep pressure on but remember to regularly loosen the pressure i.e. for approximately 20 seconds every 15 minutes. Get your dog to the vet as soon as possible.
What to do: Pull out the sting below the poison sac and bathe the area in water. You could use a solution of bicarbonate of soda if available. Apply ice to help to soothe the area. If the sting is in the mouth or throat, contact your vet as it may swell and interfere with breathing.
Pet First Aid Kit
Every dog owner should have a first aid kit to hand should the need arise. We recommend you prepare your kit with the below:
- Blunt-ended scissors (rounded)
- Wound wash
- Cotton wool
- Tick tweezers
- Wound dressing
- Self-adhesive tape
- Vinyl gloves
- Foil blanket
- Antiseptic wipes
- A blanket or thick towel
- Sterile absorbent gauze
Make sure you have your vet’s phone number saved in your phone to save valuable time should you need to contact them.