Accidents can happen in life when you least expect them. That is why it is a good idea to know some basic first aid information to help your dog in case he gets in trouble. Being prepared for the unexpected is key. Keep a list of important dog first aid phone numbers on hand in case of an emergency. This list should include your veterinarian, your local emergency clinic and the ASPCA animal poison control center. Remember, dog first aid is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care. It is simply a means of helping your dog until professional assistance is available.
It is a good idea to have everything you might need for a doggie emergency all in one handy kit.
- Wound Spray: A product like Vetericyn won’t sting and is non-toxic.
- Self-Cling Bandage: Look for one that won’t stick to the dog’s fur.
- Bandage Scissors
- Eye Wash and Ear Wash: T flush out any contaminants.
- Dog Cone: Also known as an Elizabethan collar or E-collar, this will stop your dog from licking his wounds.
- Muzzle: To keep your dog from biting if he becomes hurt.
- Extra Leash: Just to make sure you can control your dog when you need to.
- Hydrogen Peroxide: If your dog becomes poisoned and you are instructed to make him vomit, he can drink it to vomit out the poison.
- Important Phone Numbers
- Dog’s Medical Records: In case you have to visit a different veterinarian.
What to Do About Burns and Scalds
A variety of household items can be responsible for causing burns, which include hot liquids, chemicals or electricity. The first thing to do is quickly figure out the cause of the burn. The second thing to do is assess the seriousness of the burn. A very light burn can be treated at home, while a more severe burn requires medical attention from a veterinarian. Looking at the burn, determine if the skin is still intact. If the skin looks burned through, it is probably a second or third degree burn and is more serious. When the burn is deep, the pet may even be in a state of shock.
According to Cesar Millan, a good rule of thumb is to never put any type of ointment, cream, butter or margarine on burns as it does not help. The following is what you should do to treat first-degree burns.
Burns From Hot Liquids
- After restraining the dog, try and cool down the burn and the surrounding area as quickly as you can. This can be done with a gentle stream of cold water from the bathtub.
- Next, apply a cold compress for 20 minutes. A bag of frozen vegetables will work great.
- Cover the area with a non-stick bandage, and contact your vet to see what to do next.
- Wearing rubber gloves, begin by removing anything that has been contaminated by the chemical, such as a collar or clothing.
- Flush the area with cold water for 20 minutes. While you do this, make sure you aren’t spreading the chemicals to other areas of the skin.
- Use a mild shampoo to wash the area. In the case of an acid burn, using a teaspoon of baking soda per pint of water is recommended.
- Make sure the electricity is turned off and unplug the equipment.
- Treat the burn in the exact way as mentioned above.
Treating Second or Third Degree Burns
- Monitor for any signs of shock, as a priority.
- A clean, dry dressing should be applied to the burn.
- Use clean, torn sheets to wrap the dressed area and transport them to their vet immediately.
Obviously, an ounce of prevention is much better than dealing with the consequences otherwise. It is a good idea to go ahead and keep your dog out of the kitchen while you are cooking, or away from the grill when you are outside barbecuing. Never pass over your pet’s head with hot liquids, chemicals or other dangerous substances. If you are going to be using hazardous chemicals like bleach, drain cleaners or oven cleaners, make sure your pets are far enough away so they will not get splashed on.
Minor skin injuries happen in dogs quite often, especially with the more adventurous dogs. Dogs may get cut from scraping against a rock or hard surface or bumping against a blunt object. A bush, thorn or other sharp object can also cause a laceration. When your dog has been outdoors and comes inside, check him over for any problems. Be sure to look on the legs and paws, where minor injuries most commonly occur.
If you find that a joint or paw is bruised and swollen, take your dog straight to the veterinarian.
On the other hand, if the cut is minor, perform the following steps:
- See if the cut is dirty. Clean it with a non-stinging antiseptic that has been diluted in warm water.
- Use a cloth or towel to clean the area.
- Take a bag of frozen vegetables or a cold, wet towel and lay it over the area for a few minutes.
- Place a bandage over the wound.
- Contact your veterinarian for further advice.
Until the wound has healed, you will need to change the bandages every day. Should you notice an unpleasant smell when changing them, contact your vet immediately. If you like, you can put a thin film of triple antibiotic ointment or wound spray, 2 to 3 times a day.
Bee and Wasp Stings
Curious canines can get into trouble if they sniff or paw at a bee or a wasp. When a bee stings, the stinger gets stuck into the skin and venom begins to enter the body. To determine how serious the sting is, pay attention to where the dog was stung. For example, if your dog has been stung inside of their mouth, take them to the vet immediately. This is because the tongue may swell and make breathing difficult, cutting off the air supply.
If it was a wasp that stung your dog, be aware of this. Wasps don’t lose their stinger like bees do. This means that a wasp can keep stinging your dog over and over, injecting its venom each time. In case there is an underground nest, you should remove your dog from the area. Be aware that in rare cases, dogs can go into anaphylactic shock from wasp stings.
To Treat a Sting
- Remove the stinger by scraping across the skin’s surface with a credit card or butter knife. Don’t remove the stinger with tweezers, as this can pump more venom into their skin.
- Make a paste of baking soda and water and apply it to the area, if it was a bee that stung your dog. If it was a wasp, dab it with a cotton ball soaked in vinegar.
It is important to monitor your dog for signs of an allergic reaction. Their breathing should not be labored, wheezing or too fast. Signs of anaphylactic shock include collapsing, vomiting, diarrhea, pale gums, excessive drooling, a fever or agitation.
There are many different things around the home that can poison your dog. Chemicals, rat poison, antifreeze, prescription medications are a few of these. Dogs can also become poisoned from eating certain human foods or plants. Whatever poisonous substance the dog has gotten into, acting quickly with a calm mind may just save the life of your pet.
Symptoms of Poisoning
- Excessive salivation, foaming at the mouth, gagging and vomiting
- Hives or a skin rash
- Pawing at the mouth
- Sudden diarrhea
- Sudden bloody vomiting or bloody diarrhea
- Staggering, confusion or circling
- Lack of appetite
- Muscle rigidity, tremors or twitches
- Loss of consciousness
- Difficulty breathing
If you suspect that your dog has been poisoned, the first thing to do is quickly gather as much information about the poison as you can.
- Put any vomit or diarrhea into a plastic bag to take to the animal hospital.
- Gather the label from the toxic material if this applies, and try to determine how much of it your dog ingested.
- If your dog is experiencing seizures, loss of consciousness or difficulty breathing, rush them to the nearest veterinarian immediately.
If your dog isn’t showing signs of being poisoned, but you suspect it could have happened, call an expert for advice on what to do. Contact the Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435. Be prepared with your credit card as they will charge you a fee of $60 for the call. They will walk you through immediate treatments to help your dog.
Any time you suspect your dog may have been poisoned, it is crucial to get professional advice. This is because it can take hours, days, weeks or even months for symptoms of certain types of poisoning to show up. For example, if the dog has ingested rat poison, it could eat away at his organs silently for weeks, until it is too late.
If you see that your dog is having difficulty breathing, he may be choking. Other symptoms include excessive pawing at the mouth, choking sounds when coughing or breathing, or blue-tinged lips or a tongue. If your dog is choking, be aware that he will be more likely to bite you, as he panics. Here is what to do if your dog is choking:
- If your dog is still able to breathe, stay calm and immediately take him to the veterinarian.
- Open your dog’s mouth to see if you can see the foreign object. If you can, gently try and remove it with pliers or tweezers, being careful not to push it further down the throat. If you can’t get to it, stop trying and take your dog to the vet.
If your pet collapses, put both hands on the side of your pet’s rib cage. Apply pressure that is quick and firm. You can also try laying your dog on his side and striking his rib cage firmly with the palm of your hand a few times. This is to try and push air out of his lungs quickly, hopefully dislodging the object from behind. Keep repeating this process until the object comes out, or until you reach the vet’s office.
Transporting an Injured Dog
The American Veterinary Medical Association gives the following recommendations for handling an injured pet:
- Don’t assume just because you have a gentle dog that he won’t bite you if he is in pain, scared or confused.
- Don’t try to hug an injured pet and keep your face away from his mouth.
- Work with your dog slowly and gently, stopping if they become agitated.
- Call your veterinarian ahead of time to let her know that you are coming.
- Unless your pet is vomiting, place a muzzle on the pet. This can be done with a towel, stocking or a gauze roll. Never muzzle your dog if they are vomiting.
- While transporting your dog to the vet, keep it confined to a small area. A pet carrier, box or other container should work well.