If you are a dog owner it can be helpful to know what to do in the event of accident or illness and to have an emergency plan in place just in case. While many pet owners never need the skills, for some it means the difference between life and death for their pets.
Buy a First Aid Kit
This might sound obvious, but not everyone has a first aid kit for their dog and they are just as essential as those for humans. Some first aid kits contain illustrated guides on dog anatomy and resuscitation and they are available to purchase online at various outlets. If you don’t want to buy a ready-made kit you could make your own. You will need first aid spray, a muzzle, gauze pads, tape, cotton wool balls, iodine solution, scissors, tweezers and an antibiotic or antiseptic cream. Alternatively, your vet can advise you on the items he feels would be essential for your dog.
Have the Vet’s Details to Hand
Before bringing your new dog home, choose a veterinary surgery that has good facilities. Some are attached to an animal hospital and some have 24 hour a day call out (for an extra charge). Always have the vet’s call out number to hand. Put it on your cell phone, you never know when you might need it. This is your dog’s 911. As soon as you know that a dog will be joining your family, make sure you take out medical cover for them as you will be able to get most if not all of your money back on regular and emergency veterinarian visits. When accidents happen it can be very expensive with unplanned for surgery, X-rays, scans and overnight stays and some owners are faced with the horrible decision of whether to do everything they can to preserve their pet or whether to stop at a certain point in treatment due to financial considerations. Not having medical cover for your canine friend can be a very costly mistake.
If your dog is injured or sick, he will be distressed and may attempt to bite you if you try to help him, even if he usually has a placid personality. To protect yourself from unintended injury and to protect him from causing further damage, make sure you muzzle him before you attempt first aid (unless you are performing CPR).
Protect Your Dog’s Spine
If you can’t wait for the vet to make a home visit and you need to move your dog, take extra care not to move his spine – if he has any undiagnosed serious injury any sudden movement could cause paralysis or death. Use a piece of board to slide underneath him and carry him to your car. Something with a firm surface is better but if you don’t have anything then a blanket to double as a stretcher will do.
Recognize the Signs of Head Injury in Dogs
Head injury doesn’t just occur with trauma. Your dog’s brain can become damaged if he suffers with seizures, high blood pressure, infections, a toxicity reaction to an environmental substance or to a medication he has been given, if he has a brain tumor or parasites or an auto-immune disease. His brain function can also deteriorate if he becomes very cold (hypothermia) or very hot (hyperthermia), if he has diabetes or low blood sugar. If your dog is displaying signs of head injury, he may have a bleeding nose or ears, differences in pupil size, altered level of consciousness, floppy limbs, rigid limbs, unusual eye movement, abnormal posturing or twitching (that could indicate a seizure). If you see any of these signs, call the vet immediately. If you think your dog is having a seizure, place him on the floor on some blankets, out of the reach of any furniture or other items so that he doesn’t cause injury to himself. Never leave your dog unattended in a car, even if the window is rolled down. In warm weather temperatures can soar inside vehicles and children and animals have died when left in cars. If you think your dog has heat stroke, spray him with cool water until his temperature falls and then offer him water to drink.
Your pet should always have access to fresh, clean water.
Recognize the Signs of Internal Bleeding
Internal bleeding can be quickly fatal because the owner cannot see that her pet is bleeding. If he has had any type of trauma, the owner should be on the look out for pale gums, vomiting up blood, blood in the urine, stools or saliva or a bleeding nose and swelling or pain in the abdomen. If your dog has any of these symptoms or he doesn’t want you to touch his abdomen, you should take him to the vet as an emergency.
Any external wounds can be remedied by placing a cloth or bandages on the wounds and applying pressure to stem the bleeding. If possible, one person should drive the animal to the vet while the other person continues to apply pressure.
How to Perform CPR on a Dog
If your dog has stopped breathing, he will need someone to maintain his circulation. You can do this by giving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). You should first check his mouth for obstructions and clear them, if necessary, and then hold his mouth closed and blow air into his nose. You should keep doing this every five seconds. You can also provide chest massage at the same time by laying him out on his side and pressing on his heart area (or both sides of the chest near the elbow for a little dog) and press down around 70 times a minute until emergency veterinary care arrives.