First Aid For Your Dog

First Aid For Your Dog

All dog lovers should know canine first aid and a good canine first aid kit is an absolute must. You can create your own canine first aid kit, or buy one of the many excellent pre-packaged kits available online.

If you are going to create your own kit there are a few essential items that should be included: Scissors, Gauze Pads & Rolls, Vet Wrap, Alcohol Prep Pads, Latex Gloves, Eyewash Solution, Instant Cold packs, Tweezers, Nail clippers and a Triple Antibiotic Ointment like Neosporin. Surgical rubber tubing and a 4 inch piece of dowel wood makes an excellent tourniquet, and can be included as well.


Dog With Head BandagesNo one ever expects an accident or emergency, but when it does happen it is always best to be prepared, an ounce of prevention on your part can save your dogs life. Knowing what to do in an emergency and then acting swiftly to take the proper steps can lessen the chance of your dog sustaining additional injury.

You should also plan ahead for situations like moving a large breed dog. Some of the bigger breeds like Great Danes and Saint Bernard’s can tip the scales at 120 to 150 pounds and even a Labrador Retriever can easily reach 90 to 100 pounds. Two people with a folded blanket slipped under the dog can safely move the dog to your vehicle for transport to the emergency clinic.

Use an index card to list contact numbers, office hours of your regular vet, emergency clinic and poison control center and tape that to the inside lid of you emergency first aid kit. Make additional copies and post one on your refrigerator door so that anyone who needs the information can easily find it. Keep the numbers of your regular and emergency vet in your cell phone in case you have a situation while you are on the road or away from home with your dog.


Shock involves several signs that occur as a result of a traumatic injury such as an automobile strike, electric shock, animal attack and especially burns. Signs of shock can include but are not limited to; muscle weakness, rapid heart rate and breathing, pale tongue and gums, reduced pulse rate, shivering and cool extremities. A dog in shock is in immanent danger and if not treated promptly can result in death.

Assess the situation and consider a muzzle to restrain a pet that is in pain, even the most loving pet can give you a serious bite in response to pain. A muzzle can be improvised from a piece of rope, a neck tie, gauze strip and even pantyhose.

In extreme situations a blanket can be placed over the dog until a muzzle can be applied. To treat shock first control any bleeding (this is not the time to clean out wounds), keep the dog warm and quiet, do not let them move around, call the vet and transport right away to the closest emergency veterinary hospital.


Dog with a bandaged pawWhen a dog is bleeding severely, the bleeding must receive immediate attention before doing anything else, regardless of any other injuries that may be present. Bleeding can be controlled by applying firm pressure from a cloth, bandages, or your own hand if necessary. Try not to remove the bandage to check the wound because bleeding may start again.

If firm pressure does not slow down the rate of bleeding, a tourniquet may be needed. The tourniquet should be located about 3 inches above the bleeding wound with just enough pressure to stop the bleeding, do not over tighten. The tourniquet should be loosened every 10 to 15 minutes and then reapplied until the bleeding can be controlled with a pressure bandage.


Sudden onset of illness in a previously healthy dog could indicate poisoning, but that can be difficult to prove unless you observe your dog being exposed to a poison. Signs of poisoning can include trembling, weakness, drooling, foaming at the mouth, vomiting and loss of bowel and bladder control. Two of the most common poisonings seen by veterinarians are rat poison and antifreeze as I found out first hand when 2 of my girls shared a piece of rat poison.

You’ll need to act quickly and correctly if you suspect your dog has been poisoned, the longer the poison stays in the dog’s system, the more damaging it will be. Only induce vomiting if you know for sure that the dog hasn’t ingested a corrosive substance.

Call your veterinarian or emergency vet, if you know what kind of poison the dog ingested it will be much easier for the vet to advise you. If possible bring the package the substance came in as that will often assist them in determining the appropriate course of action.

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