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First Aid for Your Dog

It's an emergency!If you are worried, phone your vet.Be sure to give a thorough description of the problem.Phone first,­ don't rush to the practice, as the vet may not be there.Listen to phone messages completely and have a pen ready in case you are given another number. All vetsoffer a 24-hour service for life-threatening emergencies. Do not give an injured pet food, drink or any human medicines, as some are poisonous to dogs. 




Possible emergencies

Road Accidents - Contact the vet immediately. Keep calm and mind the traffic yourself! Injured animals are frightened and in pain so they may bite. Approach the dog slowly and talk soothingly. Put on a leash/lead and, if necessary, use a muzzle or put a bandage round the nose and tie it behind the ears. If you are bitten, consult your doctor. If your pet cannot move, slide it gently onto a coat or blanket to use as a stretcher. Keep the patient warm. Internal injuries may not be obvious at the time. Even if your pet has been discharged, contact the vet again if it is not eating 24 hours after the accident, or if it is dull, vomiting, not urinating or has difficulty breathing.

Bleeding - Apply a bandage (see Applying a bandage) or a hold a thick pad over the wound, ­keeping it in place to avoid dislodging any blood clot. Contact the vet.

Broken leg - Don't touch. Keep your pet confined and phone the vet.

Applying a bandage - Put a non-adhesive dressing on the wound and cover with several layers of swabs, then a layer of cotton gauze. Wrap open weave bandage over this, tightly enough to lightly compress the cotton gauze. Stick this to the hair at the top with surgical tape. Cover with a firm layer of crepe or self-adhesive elastic bandage. Do not leave on more than 24 hours. 

Burns and scalds - Wash immediately for at least five minutes in cool water. Wrap your pet up warmly for transport to the surgery to avoid chilling.

Electric shock - Turn off appliance before pulling the animal away, or if you can not, use a non-metallic dry object (e.g. a broom handle) to move the animal. Wrap your pet up warmly and get it to the vet. Attempt artificial respiration if breathing has stopped (see `Artificial respiration')

Trouble urinating - Passing small amounts of urine, or no urine at all, can be especially serious in male dogs. See the vet immediately. Constipation is less urgent but seek veterinary advice within 24 hours.

Swollen tummy - If your pet is also dribbling, gulping and retching, don't delay, phone the vet. It could be a serious obstruction of the bowel.

Seizures - Keep calm. Remove objects that may cause injury. Darken the room and keep your dog quiet. Phone the vet.

Eating human medicine - Contact the vet. Take the bottle/packaging so the vet knows what they are. Don't make your pet sick without asking the vet.

Dog fight - Part the fur and look. Bites on the body or head warrant prompt veterinary attention. Puncture wounds on the limbs are less serious, but may need antibiotic treatment.

Panting and Coughing - If your pet is also lethargic, take this seriously. Phone the vet.

He's just not himself... - If your pet is lying down continuously and is not interested in anything, it's wise to consult the vet. Many different things, from the trivial to the life-threatening, may be wrong; only the vet can tell. Restlessness and agitation in a nursing bitch is also a reason to phone the vet.

Vomiting/Diarrhea - Frequent vomiting, especially in the young (under two years) or old (over eight to ten years) is potentially an emergency. Contact the vet. Diarrhea without vomiting is less serious. Feed a light diet (boiled chicken or white fish) in small quantities. See a vet if it persists more than two days (or 24 hours if it is frequent)

Heat stroke - Heat stroke doesn't only happen when dogs are shut in cars! Be careful on hot days,especially with short nosed breeds (boxers, etc) overweight pets or those with heart trouble. Avoid exercise when it's hot, and don't leave your pet in direct sunlight. Heat stroke causes violent panting, red eyes and gums, and sluggishness. Wet your dog's coat with cold water, put your pet somewhere cool (use a fan) and call the vet.

Sore eyes - Bathe with water and use an Elizabethan collar to prevent rubbing. If the eye is completely closed, consult a vet. In short nosed breeds, the eye can pop forwards out of the socket. Keep it moist (contact lens solution is best), apply a non-adhesive soft pad and phone the vet. 

First aid kit

  • Bandages: ­ one roll of crepe/self-adhesive bandage, one roll of conforming/open-weave
  • Adhesive: surgical tape
  • Box of cotton gauze (or cotton balls)
  • Box of sterile white absorbent gauze
  • Two packets of non-adhesive absorbent dressing to apply directly to open wounds
  • Blunt ended scissors
  • A thick towel
  • An Elizabethan collar

Possible emergencies

Artificial respiration

If the animal isn't breathing, pull the tongue forward (avoid getting bitten) and check for obstructions. Then extend the neck (so the chin points forwards), close the mouth and blow down the nose every three seconds. If you cannot feel a heartbeat, apply gentle intermittent pressure to the lower chest just behind the front legs once a second. Recovery is unlikely if breathing does not restart after three minutes

The information on this website is for informational and educational purposes, and to provide you general pet information. It is NOT meant to be a substitute for professional veterinary care.