Sooner or later, a dog is bound to get hurt and need some sort of first aid or medical attention. The injury could be something as treating a small gash or administering first aid to a dog that is bleeding heavily after being hit by a car. Whatever the situation, all dog owners should have some basic equipment on hand, as well as some basic first aid knowledge, for when injuries arise in their dogs.
Dog first aid essentials
Just like you may have a first aid kit in your home or vehicle, you should have one on hand for your dog as well. You can purchase a complete kit at your local pet store or buy supplies from a drug store. The following materials should be kept in the first aid kit:
- Cotton balls
- Clean cloth
- Safety pins
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Tongue depressors
- Eye wash
- Wire cutters
- Rectal thermometer
Treating common ailments
With a little know-how and the right supplies, you can treat minor injuries on your own without costly vet bills. Here are some common ones that can be easily treated.
Insect bites/bee stings – If the dog was stung by a bee, remove the stinger with a hard object such as a credit card or by using tweezers. Apply a cold compress to the affected area. Next, mix water and baking soda and apply it to the area to neutralize the venom.
Bleeding – Heavy bleeding should be examined by a veterinarian. However, it may be necessary to control the bleeding during the trip to the vet’s office. First, apply pressure by compressing the bleeding area with gauze or a towel. If the bleeding is so heavy that it soaks through, just add more towels without removing the first one. If the wound is on a limb, elevate it so it is above the heart. If the bleeding persists, try to locate the main artery and compress it with a finger or hand. If the dog feels cool, looks pale or is coughing up blood, he may be bleeding internally, in which the dog would need immediate medical attention.
Burns – If a dog gets burned, be sure all power sources have been turned off, and the fire has been put out. Apply a cloth with a cold compress on the affected area. Continue to keep the site wet and cool for 30 minutes. It is important to then take the dog to the vet, as burns can sometimes get worse even after treatment. Do not remove any burned skin or apply any ointments.
Hyperthermia – When dogs begin to overheat, move them to a shady area immediately. Put a fan nearby and take their temperature. Place wet towels on various parts of the body, especially the groin and back of the neck.
Hypothermia – In contrast, when dogs gets too cold, move them to a warm area. Warm up blankets in the clothes dryer and place them on the dog. You can also put hot water bottles in the blankets to add more heat.
Impalement – If a foreign body gets stuck in a dog’s skin, calm the dog and keep him still. Do not try to remove the impaled object. However, you can shorten it so 3-6 inches hangs out of the dog. If the dog has an open wound in his chest, apply antibiotic ointment or petroleum jelly to the wound and then cover it with plastic wrap.
Sunburn – A dog’s fur is generally sufficient in protecting his skin from the sun’s rays. However, if the dog has areas with no fur, it is OK to apply sunscreen. If the dog gets sunburn, aloe vera is effective treatment.
When a dog becomes unconscious from cardiac arrest, performing CPR can save his life. CPR provides oxygen and blood to the vital organs until the dog can receive medical attention. Here are the steps to take.
- Open the airway by extending the head and neck and pulling the tongue forward.
- Look inside the dog’s throat and check for any signs of vomit or saliva. Put a finger in the throat and feel for any debris or foreign objects.
- Check for breathing by observing the dog’s chest movements. Sometimes simply extending the head and neck can cause a dog to begin breathing on his again.
- If there are no signs of breathing, begin CPR. This is done by covering the dog’s nose with your mouth and blowing air into his lungs. Hold the lips shut with your hands. Repeat several times, then stop and see if any signs of breathing are present. If not, continue the process. For small dogs, aim for 25 breaths per minute and 12-20 times per minute in larger dogs until the dog can be seen by a vet.
You can also try chest compressions. First, check for a pulse. If there are no signs of breathing, then proceed. In small dogs, place both hands around the chest and depress the rib cage 100-150 times per minute. For larger dogs, compress the chest with one or two hands. If the dog is lying on his side, place a hand on the widest side of the chest. If he is on his back, your hand should be on his breastbone. Depending on the dog’s size, depress the rib cage 1 ½ to 4 inches for 80-120 times per minute.
If you can, give breaths during the compressions. If not, alternate by giving two breaths after every 12 compressions. Continue until the dog reaches the vet or until you become tired.