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Dog First Aid

Updated: Mar 28, 2018

As a dog owner, you may find yourself needing to give your dog first aid. Dogs are curious creatures and sometimes get into dangerous situations. When they get into trouble, it will be your job to help.



The dog first aid principles that the dog owner should master are relatively few and simple in practice, but are essential skills in the case of an emergency and could save the life of your pet. Recovery time after an injury, complete healing as opposed to permanent disability or scarring, or even survival of the injured dog at all, can often depend on the treatment received immediately after being hurt.


Shock

Any serious injury, burns, fractures, deep lacerations, even dog fights can induce shock in a dog. The most common symptom of shock in a dog is a semi-oblivious yet anxious state. The nervous system becomes depressed, sometimes severe enough to cause complete immobility. Sometimes, though in relatively few cases, the dog may display a quite opposite affect of nervous excitement. In all cases, a dog in shock will have a slow weak pulse, and shallow respiration. Dogs recovering from shock will often develop a rapid pulse and high body temperature.


The treatment for shock in dogs is to cover the animal to bring the temperature up to normal. Give the dog a stimulant, such as coffee, to raise the heart rate, and keep the animal calm so that it rests. Gentle petting will generally instill a relaxed state. Recovery generally occurs in one or two hours.


Heat Stroke

Heat stroke, a condition that is caused when a dog is unable to purge unneeded heat from their bodies, raises the temperature of their delicate internal organs and causes massive damage to a dog's living tissue, This can kill the dog..

The signs of heatstroke are many, but varied and very easily discerned. Such signs include: increased panting or breathing (this sort of fast panting/breathing sounds more desperate than normal panting/breathing), heightened pulse rate, and bright red gums. Dogs also tend to look hot or as if they're wilting, just like humans do. If left untreated, heat stroke leads to shock or unconsciousness.

The dog will need to be moved into a cool area with good ventilation (you can use an electric fan if available), as well as being soaked in cold water or gently sprayed with cold water from a hose if a tub of ice water isn't immediately available. Be careful however, as once the dog's temperature drops back down to a healthy 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39 degrees Celsius), leaving the dog in cold water any longer (the cooling process is very fast) risks causing hypothermia, so keep a close eye on your pet as he cools down after heat stroke.

Be especially protective of older and younger dogs, both of which suffer heatstroke more easily. Once your pet has stabilized and the situation seems to be over, you should still bring your dog to the veterinarian. Heatstroke has hidden effects, such as dehydration and brain damage, which may only show after the immediate danger of death is over.

All in all, heat stroke is easy to prevent. Keep plenty of water for him to drink and a shady spot to get out of the sun. Avoid excessive exercising on hot days. Obese dogs are the most common victims such make sure you keep your dog fit. Dogs with thick coats should be clipped in the summer to protect them against the heat. Simple steps, yet worth the effort to keep your dog healthy in the heat.



Hit by a Car

When a dog is struck by a vehicle, you should restrain him and begin treating for shock. Check the gums to see if he is losing blood too quickly. If the gums have a gray or white appearance, the dog likely has injured an organ and is bleeding internally. If this is the case, then stretch the dog out and have someone assist you by holding the front and hind legs. Wrap long strips of bandage torn from a bed sheet or similar material around his torso tightly in a girdle or corset-like fashion. Continue to wrap until you have created a good firm support. Be sure the bandaging lies flat against the dogís body and doesnít bunch up when he moves. The bandages must create a long cylinder which holds the internal organs still. Keeping the organs immobile will assist in allowing a blood clot to form and slow or stop the internal bleeding. Do everything you are able to keep the animal still until a veterinarian arrives. Do not move the dog from the accident scene if there are signs of internal bleeding. A dog can bleed to death very quickly.


Poisoning

Signs like vomiting, diarrhoea, foaming at the mouth, gagging, neurologic symptoms, respiratory difficulty, etc. most likely indicate a poisoning.

First of all identify what toxin your pet was exposed to or ingested. Find the label, active ingredients, and the quantity ingested or exposed to. As soon as you gather this information and valuate your pet’s symptoms immediately call your veterinary or Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-213-6680. They can determine if the exposure is considered toxic, and if any treatment is necessary.

Collect any material that your dog may have vomited or chewed, and place it in a plastic seal-able bag to take with you to the vet.

Insect bites

Stings and bites are another common problem with dogs. As soon as you notice this, put adequate solution of baking soda and water on the stung area. Apply ice for any swelling. If you notice any difficulty breathing after a sting, however, take your dog to the vet immediately as he may be allergic to the sting.



Doggie First Aid Kit

Many of the problems a dog faces are similar to those of our own. Until you can get your dog to a vet, he will depend on you. Having the supplies you need on hand will really help you to be effective.

Rolls of gauze and tape are handy to slow or stop bleeding and are necessary in your doggie first aid kit. You can also find some great blood-clotting topical products too. Hydrogen peroxide is important for cleaning wounds. An old clean blanket is essential for wrapping a dog in shock. A first aid kit should also include an antihistamine for bee or wasp stings, an antibiotic gel and an eye wash. Also, absorbent cotton, gauze rolls or pads, scissors (preferably with rounded tips), tweezers, a rectal thermometer; syringes (without the needle) for giving oral medications, elastic bandages.

Keep in mind that an injured dog is scared and may bite. If you feel this is possible, a muzzle is another addition to your kit. Avoid giving your dog Tylenol. Ask your vet before it is necessary what kind of pain medication is okay and keep some of that with the rest.


Be prepared

Take time to learn the basics of first aid. Keep your vet's phone number handy in case you need him. If you think your dog may need professional care in the middle of the night or on a weekend, consider calling your vet and advising him. He may have some good advice or instructions to help you reach him. Many cities now have pet emergency centers. It is advisable to keep their number in your first aid kit as well.


Keep in mind that an injured dog is scared and may bite. If you feel this is possible, a muzzle is another addition to your kit. Avoid giving your dog Tylenol. Ask your vet before it is necessary what kind of pain medication is okay and keep some of that with the rest.



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