Basic first aid for dogs

Basic first aid for dogs

As a dog owner, it is important to be prepared for anything, like what to do in case of an emergency. Thus, to be well-prepared, it’s important to know basic first aid for dogs.

IMPORTANT: always seek for medical assistance in an emergency situation. Use these first aid tips as first response to help your dog. Familiarize yourself well with these techniques, so that you can stay calm and clear-minded in an emergency situation.

1. Choking

Dogs, especially young dogs and puppies, have a tendency to eat items that can cause choking. In my opinion, bones are the worst as dogs tend to scoff down these tasty treats quickly, which can result in the bone getting stuck in the throat. Of course many other items can also cause choking, such as toys and household items.

If you notice your dog choking, try to remove what the dog has in its mouth. Sometimes the choking causing item can be quite far down the dog’s throat, making it difficult to remove. However, if you can see the choking causing item, attempt to remove it with your fingers.

If you’re unable to remove the item from your dog’s throat, there are a couple of postures you can try to help to remove the hazardous item.

One method is to hold your dog upside down by lifting up its hind legs (keeping the front legs on the floor) and swaying the legs up and down. This downward facing posture along with the movement will hopefully help dislodge the stuck item.

If your dog is too big to hold it by its legs, you can place your hands on the dog’s lower belly and lift up backside of the dog from this position. Perform the same up and down swaying movement to dislodge the item.

Dog chewing bone

2. Cuts and wounds

Dogs can easily acquire cuts and wounds when running about, but they can also get injured by other animals, such as other dogs or cats. Usually small cuts heal by themselves, but it is important to always check that the cut is clean.

If you notice a cut on your dog that is not heavily bleeding, remove any objects, such as splinters from it. Clean the wound with a sterile solution, such as a saline solution. You can also boil water to clean the wound, but make sure to cool down the water first.

For heavily bleeding wounds, the most important thing is to stop the bleeding. To do this, apply pressure to the wound with a cloth, such as a clean towel or gauze pad if you happen to have one. You can try to bandage up the wound if your dog allows it, otherwise get someone to hold pressure on the wound while you drive your dog to the vet (or get someone else to drive you while you apply pressure to the wound). It is important to take your dog to the vet as soon as possible for professional medical care.

With any wounds, it is always important to seek medical care to prevent infections.

3. Heat stroke

Dogs love to lie in the sun and they’re not always aware of over heating. A dog of mine once suffered from a heat stroke: we had been sitting on the patio and my dog was lying in the sun. Everything seemed ok, but an hour or so later when we were back inside I found my dog collapsed on the floor.

Luckily due to quick thinking, I realized my dog must have suffered from a heat stroke. I immediately took her into the shower and showered her with cool water. She woke up and recovered.

So the immediate first aid for a heat stroke is cooling down your dog. With my dog I used cool water in the shower, but you can also use wet towels and bringing your dog inside into air conditioning. Try to encourage your dog to drink and you can even place a few ice cubes in his or her water bowl.

After cooling down your dog, take him or her to the vet for a check up.

Remember, one of the most common causes of heat stroke is leaving your dog inside a car on a warm day, which should never be done. The temperature inside a car can rise so rapidly that parking in the shade or leaving the car windows down won’t make much of a difference. Thus, if you think you will have to leave your dog inside the car while you go about your errands, it is better to leave your dog at home.

Dogs in the sun

4. Poisoning

Dogs are not the best at knowing what is safe and not safe for them to eat. Especially puppies (and some dog breeds, such as beagles) tend to eat anything and everything. So what to do if you suspect your dog has eaten something poisonous?

The immediate first aid for poisoning is to induce your dog to vomit. To do this, give your dog a small amount of their food. Once your dog has eaten its food, pour a teaspoon of table salt at the back of your dog’s throat (not straight on the tongue as this will just taste horrible). Make sure your dog swallows the salt and then wait.

You dog should throw up within 3-5 minutes, if he or she doesn’t, you can give another teaspoon of salt (large dogs might require a larger amount of salt). Only give salt twice then make your way to the vet regardless of whether your dog has vomited or not. If your dog has vomited, take some of the vomit with you, so that the vet can examine it.

To find about what is poisonous for dogs, read my articles about dangerous plants for dogs and foods not to give your dog. To avoid poisoning, it is important to teach your dog the command “leave” to ensure he or she lets go of any dangerous items.

5. CPR

All dog owners hope they never have to perform CPR, but there might be a time when you need it. If you find your dog unconscious with no pulse, CPR is needed. You can check for pulse on the dog’s hind leg, with more information via this link.

The steps for CPR are similar to the human. To start CPR, place the dog on its side and your hand on its ribs where the elbow meets the ribs. Apply pressure and do five compressions for dogs under 40 kg and 10 compressions for dogs over 40 kg. If your dog is still not breathing, place your mouth over the dog’s nose and mouth and blow air. Repeat the procedure of compressions and mouth-to-mouth.

Keep going until you find a pulse or stop after 20 min of CPR.

Transport your dog to the vet in a stable position, such as tied to a wooden plank or inside a box for smaller dogs. Advise your vet if you have given CPR.

Find specific instructions of the CPR procedure from this link.

I hope you found this article helpful. Of course, I hope that you never have to administer first aid to your dog, but knowing basic first aid can be a life saver in case of an emergency.

To many happy and healthy barks & walks,