Give Your Dog First Aid
Some time or another you may be called upon to give your dog first aid. If he's just been hit by a car, slashed his paw on glass, or taken poison, you need to have some knowledge of first aid in advance, so you can deal with the situation without panicking. You may have to cope with distraught children or interfering bystanders at the same time, so a firm grasp of dog first aid is a must.
As with people, the first sixty minutes after an accident is what is known as the "golden period" when rapid assistance can make all the difference to survival rates. If you have time you can refer to a book on dog first aid - or, indeed, to this page!
Add Good for Dogs! Dog First Aid to your Favourites now, by pressing Control-D. It's also a good idea to print this page and keep it handy in case of emergency. Control-P will do the job. A good place to keep it would be in your car or in your Dog First Aid Kit.
If you know how to give first aid to people, then you'll find it much the same giving your dog first aid. Following a few basic rules, keeping calm, and employing a large dollop of commonsense are essentials. Keeping calm is not just in order to be more effective yourself - it greatly helps your patient if you appear to know what you're doing. Flight is a strong instinct in dogs when faced with disaster. Minimising his fear will go a long way towards keeping him still enough for you to give your dog first aid.
The advice we hear for people is not to move them till professional help arrives. Alas this back-up is not available for dogs, so you'll have to move him in order to get him to the help.
If the dog is unconscious, lift or drag him by the scruff and bum backwards onto a blanket or coat to transport him immediately to a vet. If possible, staunch profuse bleeding with a pressure bandage. If he's conscious, you will need to immobilise him by looping a lead round his neck to prevent his possible flight from the scene ... despite being badly injured.
Next, muzzle him - even your own pet may bite in shock. A makeshift muzzle can be made from bandage, a necktie, lead, scarf or strip of material. Drape it over the dog's muzzle, cross the ends beneath his jaw and tie the ends tightly behind his head under his ears. Give Rescue Remedy or Royal Jelly for shock.
You can carry a dog with injured legs by wrapping one arm round his chest in front of his front legs, and one arm hooking under his belly in front of his back legs. This will feel secure to the dog, yet allow his damaged limbs to dangle.
Do bear in mind that a dog with a nasty injury can still keep going. It's up to you to find out whether that limp is in fact due to a broken pelvis or hammer-and-nail fracture of the hip joint - both can result from car impact. Also there can be internal injuries quite invisible to us. A quick test for this is to look at the gums and lips of the dog. If they are white this could be a pointer to internal bleeding. Urgent veterinary attention is needed.
If you think your dog has taken poison, act fast! It won't matter if you're wrong, but hesitation could be fatal. You need to induce vomiting within 30 minutes. The simplest way is by placing a couple of grains of washing soda in the back of his mouth and holding his jaws shut to force him to swallow it. He'll vomit in a matter of minutes. Alternatively, a teaspoonful of salt in a few ounces of water should do the trick. But if you think your dog's taken a corrosive substance like acid, don't make him vomit, as it'll burn again on the way up.
Now get him straight to the Vet, if possible taking some of the supposed poison with you. This is especially useful in the case of ratbait, which is colour-coded to indicate the action of the poison. Dogs are unlikely to take the usually-fatal herbicide paraquat unless it's been put in a bait. This barbaric practice still takes place in some country areas.
If the airway is completely blocked - by a ball, for instance - you can use a stick or fork to spike the ball, or poke it out. For this reason, never let your dog play with a solid ball that would fit his throat. See Choosing safe Dog Toys. Dogs often get a shaft of bone or piece of stick wedged across the roof of the mouth between the upper teeth, causing them to salivate and scrabble at their mouths. These are usually simple to pop out, though tweezers may be needed to remove any embedded parts.
Take great care not to get bitten! Use a piece of wood or a stick to wedge between his back teeth to allow you to remove the object safely. Another advantage of good dog training - you can ask your dog to sit and be still while you do it, because he trusts you.
Snakebites and Stings
These generally occur on the face or neck of the dog, when he's disturbed a snake. Keep the dog calm, and try and limit his exercise. If you can carry the dog back to the car, so much the better. Don't attempt to remove the venom from the bite.
Most snakebite problems are caused by abscesses from an infected bite, so be sure to take the animal to the vet for treatment. If the swelling is inhibiting the dog's breathing, you'll need to keep his airway clear while you seek speedy help.
For wasp stings - which are alkaline - apply vinegar to the area, and for bee stings - which are acid - apply moistened baking soda (bicarbonate of soda). Remember Vinegar for Wasps, and Bicarb for Bees. If there are several stings, your dog may be in shock, so give him Rescue Remedy or Royal Jelly and keep him calm and inactive. As with people, multiple stings - as can result from invading a nest - can be fatal.
The horror of a dog being left shut in a car on a hot day! Even in temperate climates this can be fatal. Short-nosed breeds such as Chow-chows and Staffies can be affected faster.
It's essential to cool the dog as fast as possible. Total immersion in a bath or cattle drinker can work. Failing that, keep hosing or sponging the dog with cold water till he can breathe more easily and his tongue returns from blue to its normal colour. Now, to the vet with him.
For profuse bleeding use a pressure bandage. Wad up some cotton wool and strap it to the spot. If you're miles from cotton wool, use a pebble in a knotted jumper sleeve or something similar. Tourniquets - stopping the blood supply to a limb with a very tight ligature - are frowned upon these days, but if it's the only way to stop a "gusher" then do it. But be sure not to leave it on for as long as 20 minutes.
Can be a symptom of Parvovirus, especially if bloody. If the dog seems ill, then check with your vet immediately. If he seems well and bright, withhold food but give him Aloe Vera Gel. It can be a result of drinking too much milk.
Take precautions against getting bitten! See that the dog has space for his fit, and that it's safe, e.g. no electric wires or open fires nearby. Afterwards, loosen his collar and keep him calm and quiet till you can get veterinary advice.
Shaking the head and scratching at his ears is an indication that he has something in them. Grass seeds are a common nuisance, particularly in dogs with long floppy ears. Bathe the ear with Olive Oil or Aloe First. A vet may be needed.
Roll the dog in a blanket or coat to douse the flames - if necessary plunge him in a river or hose him. Water carries the risk of infection, but the burning must first be stopped.
For severe burns, including electrical and chemical burns, get the dog to the vet as soon as possible. There may be damage to the lungs as well as the obvious burning, and collapse from shock is likely. Once the animal is under veterinary treatment, large doses (up to 1 litre per day!) of Aloe Vera Gel can speed the rate of recovery and help with the shock.
For minor burns, cool the area with running water or a well-wrapped ice-pack for several minutes. Use the remarkable power of Aloe Vera - often known as the Burn Plant - to encourage new skin growth, prevent blistering, speed healing, and reduce pain and itching. Many people know how effective Aloe Vera is for sunburn or for minor burns in the kitchen.
Start as soon as possible with the Aloe First spray then apply Aloe Vera Gelly. You can't overdo this - in fact the more often you put it on, the better. Hourly is good. This type of burn is better left unbandaged, but you'll need to take steps to stop the dog licking or rubbing the wound. A bonnet or padded splint collar may be necessary.
The "Golden Period" for wounds is up to 6 hours. After this the level of bacteria present will prevent successful healing. If you can't get the animal to the vet straight away - often very difficult in country areas where vets cover a large area - then you'll need to clean and decontaminate the wound yourself.
Rinse with copious amounts of water without using a swab to remove grit and dead tissue. It's valuable to clip hairs from the margins of the wound that are interfering with it. Now you can spray quantities of Aloe First spray into the wound. This will prevent further contamination without irritating or damaging the tissue, as many wound sprays actually do.
Once the wound has been stitched by the vet, Aloe Vera Gelly is an excellent wound gel and should be applied frequently to accelerate healing.