CANINE 1st AID
IN EMERGENCY SITUATIONS:
First ensure the safety of yourself and others, keep calm and assess the situation before doing anything. Injured animals are frightened and in pain and may try to bite anyone who touches them.
Contact the vet. Keep your vets number handy and know the name of the practice.
Always phone first whatever the situation, as although a vet may not be available the staff may be able to suggest immediate action you can take.
Have a pen handy in case another number is given to you. Treatment can usually be provided quicker if the dog is taken to the surgery rather than calling the vet out.
If there is a risk of biting, muzzle the dog, or wrap tape around the nose and tie behind the ears, unless the dog is having trouble breathing. Small dogs can be restrained by putting a thick towel over their heads.
Never give human medicines to a dog - many can do more harm than good. Do not offer food or drink in case anaesthetic is needed.
Drive carefully when transporting the patient to the surgery.
If you do get bitten, see your doctor.
IS IT AN EMERGENCY?
Sometimes, outside normal hours, it is difficult to decide whether urgent attention is needed. You can always call and ask for advice.
You should phone the vet if:
- Your pet seems weak, is reluctant to get up, or is dull and depressed.
- There is difficulty breathing, or it is noisy or rapid, or there is continual coughing causing distress.
- There is repeated vomiting, especially with young or elderly animals. Diarrhoea is less serious, unless severe, bloody or the dog seems weak or unwell. Feed small amounts of a bland diet (boiled chicken or white fish) and see a vet if it persists for over a day or two.
- Your dog appears to be in severe pain or discomfort.
- Your dog is trying to urinate or defecate and is unable to. Blockage of the bladder can sometimes occur usually in males and can be fatal if not treated urgently.
- If there are sudden difficulties with balance.
- A bitch suckling puppies is agitated, shaking and shivering and will not settle. This could be eclampsia which needs urgent treatment.
Prevention is better than cure and dogs should be kept on leads anywhere near traffic (huskies everywhere except for safe enclosed areas).
If the worst happens be aware of other cars. Talk gently to the dog as you approach. Move slowly without sudden movements. If possible put on a lead and if you can, muzzle before handling.
If the dog can walk, go to the vet, even if there seems to be no injury as there could be internal injuries that are not immediately obvious. If the dog cannot walk, small dogs can be picked up by placing one hand at the front of the chest and the other under the hindquarters. Improvise a stretcher for larger dogs with a coat or blanket. If the dog is paralysed, there could be a spinal injury, so try to find something rigid, such as a board. Gently slide the dog onto it and cover with a blanket to reduce heat loss.
Keep the dog quiet and calm. Put on a tight bandage. If blood is seeping through, apply another tight layer. Only use a tourniquet as a last resort. For places you cannot apply a bandage, press a pad firmly onto the wound and hold in place. Get to the vet straight away.
If you have the materials, place a non-adhesive dressing on the wound and cover with swabs or cotton bandage. Then place a layer of cotton wool then cover with more cotton bandage. Stick this to the hair at the top with surgical tape, and cover the whole with adhesive bandage or tape. Do not stick elastoplast to the dogs hair. When bandaging limbs the foot should be included or it may swell up. Never leave a bandage on for more than 24 hours.
Deal with serious bleeding but do not apply a splint - it is painful and can cause the bone to break through the skin. Confine the dog for transport to the vet.
BURNS AND SCALDS
Run cold water over these for at least five minutes, then contact the vet. Do not apply ointments or creams but if there is going to be a delay getting to the vets you can apply a saline soaked dressing to the area. Keep the dog warm.
Try to find the packaging from the substance swallowed and have it with you when you call the vet. If chewing plants is suspected try to find out the identity of the plant. Call the vet immediately. Do not make your dog sick unless the vet says to do this.
If this happens suddenly treat it seriously, especially with a deep chested breed. There may also be gulping, dribbling saliva and attempts to vomit. This could mean the dog has a life threatening condition - phone the vet do not delay.
BALL STUCK IN THROAT
Get to the vet quickly. Or you may be able to push the ball out by pushing on the neck/throat from the outside.
If the tongue and gums are turning blue or the dog has collapsed, try the following. You will need someone to help - one person holds the mouth open while the other reaches inside. Be careful not to get bitten.
If you cannot pull the ball out lay the dog on his side. Push down suddenly and sharply on their tummy just behind the last rib. The person holding the mouth open should be ready to grab the ball as it reappears.
If paint or tar has gotten onto the coat or paws prevent the dog from licking as it may be toxic. If you have a buster collar put that on. You may be able to clip off small areas of affected coat. Never use turpentine or paint removers. You can sometimes remove paint and other substances by bathing the dog in washing up liquid or swarfega but if a large area is affected see your vet.
Put the dog somewhere cool, preferably in a draught. Wet the coat with tepid water (cold water will contract the blood vessels in the skin and will slow heat loss) and phone the vet. You can offer a small amount of water.
If your dog is having a fit, do not try to hold or comfort the dog, as this provides stimulation, which may prolong the fit. Darken the room and reduce noise.
Remove items, especially anything electrical, away from the dog so they cannot cause injury. Pad furniture with cushions. Call the vet.
If your dog sees shocked, dull or distressed after a fight call the vet. Otherwise look at the wound. Puncture wounds to the head or body mean you should contact the vet. Injuries to the limbs may not need immediate attention, unless severe or very painful, but take the dog to the vet within 24 hours, as antibiotics may be needed.
If the eye is bulging out of the socket, apply a wet dressing, prevent rubbing or scratching and call the vet. If chemicals have gotten into the eye, flush with water repeatedly (ideally from an eye drop bottle) and call the vet.
Never put yourself at risk by attempting a rescue.
Wipe away material from the mouth and nose. Hold the dog upside down by the hind legs until the water has drained out. Give resuscitation if breathing has stopped. Even if your pet seems to recover always see the vet as complications afterwards are common.
If a high voltage supply is involved (e.g. power lines) do not approach. Call the police.
In the home, turn off the power first. If this is not possible, you may be able to use a dry non-metallic item like a broom handle to push the dog away from the power source. If breathing has stopped , give resuscitation. Call the vet immediately.
Pull out the sting below the poison sac, then bathe the area in water or a solution of bicarbonate of soda if available. Applying ice will help to soothe. If the sting is in the mouth or throat contact the vet as it may swell and interfere with breathing.
Put the animal on their side
Check breathing has actually stopped
Open the mouth and pull tongue forwards and check for obstructions such as blood - take care not to get bitten when removing any material
If breathing does not start, extend the head (nose pointing forwards). Hold the mouth closed and blow into the nose about 20 times per minute. If you cannot feel a heartbeat, push on the chest just behind the front legs every second. Give two breaths for every 15 compressions of the chest. If this is unsuccessful after three minutes then recovery is unlikely.
Your Basic First Aid Kit Should Include:
- bandages - a roll of self adhesive or crepe bandages (5cm width)
- conforming/open weave bandages (2.5cm width)
- some non-adhesive absorbent dressings (5cm x 5cm) to cover open wounds
- surgical sticky tape
- a box of cotton wool
- a box of sterile absorbent gauze
- blunt ended scissors, preferably curved
- a thick towel
- an Elizabethan collar