Basic First Aid for Dogs

If you keep a dog in your home, you should be equipped with some basic first aid
knowledge as well as a basic first aid kit. Why? Because dogs, just like us, are
prone to accidents.

Dogs are naturally curious, active, bush animals, often running up and down in
dangerous places where they can pick up injuries. While such injuries are generally
easily treatable, others are not.

At the extreme end of the danger spectrum are dogs that are exposed to hazardous environments - such environments include urban areas and cities where there is a lot of vehicular traffic, dogs that perform guard duty as well as dogs assist members of law enforcement and the military perform their duties. Unfortunately, most dog owners are not trained for basic first aid.

We believe that every dog owner should educate themselves in the basics of first aid and thereby help ensure that their dog lives a long and healthy life.

There are many types of injuries that require different first aid treatment, including:

Traffic Accidents

Dogs are major victims of traffic accidents. Actually, this is the leading cause of serious dog injuries all over the world. When not attended to, dogs will find a way to cross a road. Unfortunately, dogs don't know how to read road signs and check for oncoming traffic.

A dog that is involved in traffic accident should be approached with utmost caution because it may react aggressively due to the pain and trauma it has just experienced.

Only move the dog when it is necessary but keep the movement as little, and as non-jarring, as possible. Cover the dog with a blanket if one is available. Slide the blanket underneath the dog, and preferably with the assistance of another person, lift the dog gently and safely. Check for any haemorrhaging and for a steady heartbeat. Use a clean pad, cloth or handkerchief to stem any excessive bleeding by binding tightly over the wound.

Get the dog appropriate medical attention from a medical professional as soon as possible.

Burns

Because of their stature and particular way of getting around, dogs can be the unwitting victims of accidental burns. Burns that occur in the home often involve a hot liquid - as you can imagine, dogs are easily vulnerable to having hot liquids spilled on them.

Administering first aid for burns, however, can be a daunting task and should ultimately be left a medical professional. That's not to say that you should do nothing - it's just that oftentimes the only course of action for the home owner is to remove the offending substance from the affected area and then immerse the burned area under cold cod water.

Poisoning

Signs that a dog may have been poisoned include:

-- Muscle twitches
-- Vomiting
-- Bleeding
-- Convulsions
-- Collapse
-- Listlessness

While none of these symptoms, in and of themselves, indicates poisoning (and in fact may indicate many things other than poisoning), it is advisable to get your dog to a vet immediately.

If you are certain that your dog has swallowed a poisonous substance, try to make it vomit. A small piece of sodium carbonate (washing soda), or mustard and salt dissolved in water, pushed down its throat, will help induce it to vomit.

Even if you are successful in getting your dog to vomit, a visit to your vet will put your mind - and your dog's health - at ease.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke commonly occurs when a dog is left unattended on a hot day in an area with poor or not ventilation. If you have no choice but to leave the dog unattended (which is to be avoided if at all possible), you should make certain that the area is properly ventilated and that the dog has access to an ample supply of clean drinking water.

This all assumes that the dog is indoors. If it is left outside - which again is not advisable - then ventilation is not a major problem. What is a problem, however, is dehydration and the damage that can occur from continuous exposure to the sun. In such case, it is advisable that the dog is left in an area where shade is freely accessible - along with an ample supply of water.

Signs of heat stroke include excessive panting, vomiting, frothing at the mouth, dizziness, disorientation, dry mouth and of course total collapse.

If your dog is showing these signs, attempt to remove the froth from its mouth and lower its body temperature by dousing it in cold water. Then take the dog to a vet for immediate treatment.

Drowning

Although dogs can swim, not all of them can do it well. Some dogs cannot swim and end up drowning even in relatively shallow water. For a drowning dog, quickly attempt to empty its lungs of water. Do this by placing its head lower than its body. Then open its mouth and start pumping the chest by pressing downwards across the ribs.

Choking

Dogs may have the ability to chomp down on things no human ever could, it doesn't mean that they are immune to being choked. It's not uncommon for dogs to choke on pieces of bone, sticks, or small rubber balls, etc. These types of items can easily get stuck in their throat. If your dog is chocking, open its mouth and attempt to remove the object. You can also attempt to pump its chest to dislodge the item. And as always with any type of emergency or injury, please take your dog to a vet to ensure its continued good health.