First Aid for Common Dog Emergencies

July 25, 2019

First Aid for Common Dog Emergencies


I’m sure everyone knows Snoopy, Charlie Brown’s beagle. Have you ever wondered why Snoopy is named Snoopy? It’s because of like most dogs, he is inquisitive by nature. That very same nature gets them into situations that require immediate, basic first aid care. You see, dogs are like children. They are curious creatures that like to explore. It is only imperative that any dog lover should be equipped with the basic first aid knowledge in handling dog emergencies.


What is first aid?

First aid is the initial treatment given to an injured or sick dog until proper veterinary care is available. Its purpose is to preserve life, alleviate pain and discomfort, and minimize risk of permanent disability or deformity. First aid should not replace proper veterinary care.


Your First Aid Kit

If you have pets, then you need to have a basic first aid kit for emergencies: 

pet first aid


    In Case of Emergency…

    what to do in a dog emergency

    Keeping an Injured Dog Calm and Restrained

    Bear in mind that even the friendliest dog, when injured, can turn aggressive and panicky, even to their owners. They can also be disoriented and in pain. Keep these tips in mind when approaching an injured dog:

    how to approach an injured dog

    The 7 Most Common Dog Emergencies

    The 7 Most Common Dog Emergencies

    1. Bleeding

      External bleeding

      • Muzzle your pet. Talk to him to keep him calm.
      • Clean wound with running water or saline solution. Do not put anything potentially harmful like soap (could be too strong) or hydrogen peroxide.
      • Wrap the wound with a clean gauze bandage or you can improvise with cloth. Keep pressure over the wound by using your hand until blood starts to clot, but not too much. Use common sense on this. It takes around several minutes for the clot to stop the bleeding.
      • Check the wound after 3 minutes minimum. If blood continues to seep, use another layer of bandage.
      • For severe bleeding, use a tourniquet between the wound and the body. You can use a gauze or an elastic band for this. Loosen the tourniquet for 20 seconds every 15-20 minutes. Rush your pet to the vet as soon as possible. Bleeding can be life-threatening but preventable.

      Internal bleeding

      • Signs of internal bleeding are blood coming out from the nose, mouth, rectum, coughing up blood, pale gums, weak and rapid pulse.
      • If internal bleeding is suspected, do not waste time and take your dog to the vet immediately.

      2. Broken bones or fractures

      • Signs include pain, not using a limb, or limb looks abnormally bent or swollen.
      • Muzzle the dog before approaching him.
      • Check for open wounds. If there is bleeding, try to stop the it by applying pressure to the wound. Wrap the wound with gauze bandage. Do not wrap the whole leg to avoid impeding circulation.
      • Try not to move the injured limb as much as possible.
      • Do not pull the limb in an attempt to align the fracture. Doing so could result to further bleeding or injury.
      • Try to stabilize the injured limb with a splint made from magazines or newspapers gently as to not cause further injury.
      • If possible, carry your pet on your way to the vet to prevent weight bearing on the limb.

      3. Burns

      • Muzzle your dog as he is most likely in pain.
      • Flush burn with cool running water for 5-10 minutes.
      • Apply a cool compress to the affected area.
      • For minor burns, you can apply a soothing gel such as aloe vera.
      • Severe burns require immediate veterinary care. Apply cool compress to the burned area. Take your pet to the vet immediately.
      • Never apply ice or ice pack directly to a burned area. It can cause ice burn.

      4. Choking

      • Signs include excessive pawing at the mouth, difficulty breathing, choking sounds when breathing or coughing, blue-tinged tongue or lips.
      • Be careful—a choking dog might bite in panic. Wear protective gear when checking the mouth for obstructions.
      • Open the mouth and check for the cause of obstruction. If you can see it, carefully remove the foreign object. Be cautious—you do not want to push the object further down the throat. Do not spend too much time if the object is hard to reach.
      • You can attempt to apply Heimlich maneuver if object is hard to reach. Use this with great caution. You can do this by raising your dog’s hind legs, with the hind feet hanging or resting on the floor. Your dog’s backline should be in front of you. Think of it as being behind your dog. Place your arms around your dog, with your hand resting where the ribs end and the abdomen starts. For large dogs, let the dog stand and position yourself above the dog. His backline should still be in front of you. Squeeze your dog firmly in an upward and forward motion. Repeat this 4 times.
      • For smaller pets, you can hold them upside down on air by their back legs. Use your hand to firmly deliver a blow where the ribs end and the abdomen starts. Repeat 4 times as well.

      5. Eye injuries

      • Signs include redness, swelling, discharge or tearing, squinting, bleeding, different pupil size, cloudiness or blueness of the eyeballs, constant rubbing or pawing.
      • If the irritation is caused by chemical or fine debris (dirt, hair, etc.), flush it with sterile saline solution or clean water for 5-10 minutes.
      • For eye injuries or trauma, bring your pet to the vet immediately.
      • Do not let them rub their eyes, either by their paws or against the carpet or furniture. You can prevent this by placing an e-collar (Elizabethan collar).

      6. Poisoning

      • Signs of possible poisoning include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, twitching, nervousness, convulsions, swelling of tongue, lethargy, loss of appetite, difficulty breathing, loss of balance, irregular heartbeat, and coma. Poisoned dogs also tend to give off some chemical odors.
      • First thing you need to do is to look around for the source. Tell-tale signs could be a broken bottle of medication, an opened can of pesticide, etc. You need this information, along with the breed, sex, weight, and symptoms, when you call the ASPCA Poison Control Center hotline 1-888-426-4435.
      • These are the 10 most common causes of dog poisoning:

      medications, rodent poisons, chocolate, household chemicals, poisonous plants, snail bait, toxic toads, insecticides, heavy metals, and antifreeze.

      • If the dog hasn’t vomited, induce vomiting only if the poison is not caustic or a petroleum product. Induce vomiting by giving 1 tablespoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide per 20 pounds or 1 teaspoon per 5 pounds every 10 minutes, not exceeding 3 tablespoons.
      • Caustic products include drain cleaners, battery acid, dishwashing detergent, lye, and grease remover. Petroleum products include floor wax, dry-cleaning solutions, and paint solvents. These corrosives can cause more damage to your dog’s esophagus if you induce vomiting. Call ASPCA Poison Control Center hotline 1-888-426-4435 if you are unsure of what your dog has ingested—it could be acidic or alkali.
      • For acidic poisons, you can give Milk of Magnesia or Pepto Besmol. Give 1-2 teaspoons for every 5 lbs. body weight.
      • For alkali poisons, give vinegar or lemon and water. Use 4 parts water for every part vinegar or lemon used.
      • You can also give activated charcoal, a medication given to poisoned dogs. Usually in powdered form, tablets, or granules, it absorbs the toxins, lessening the adverse effects. It works fast when given with an hour of exposure to poison. However, activated charcoal has limitations—it in ineffective against caustic agents. If your dog has ingested something like chocolates, you can induce vomiting and give this as first aid.

      7. Gastroenteritis

      • Gastroenteritis means your dog has an inflamed or upset stomach and intestines. It causes him to vomit and have diarrhea. There are many reasons why these happen. These are the top 5 causes of vomiting:
      1. Viral infections such as distemper, parvovirus, or coronavirus
      2. Indiscriminately eating foreign objects like bones, sticks, garbage, plants, etc.
      3. Intestinal parasites
      4. Exposure to toxins or poisonous substances
      5. Cancer or tumors
      • Symptoms include:
      1. Vomiting with foamy, yellowish bile
      2. Diarrhea, with the consistency of a soft-served ice cream
      3. Lethargy
      4. Dehydration
      5. Decreased appetite
      6. Low-grade fever
      7. Blood in vomit
      • Take your dog immediately to the vet for proper diagnosis. If the vet is unavailable, the first thing you need to prevent is dehydration. A dehydrated dog can easily go downhill in a matter of hours. This is usually the case with parvovirus. Based on experience and vet advice, give dextrose powder or Pedialite to replace lost electrolytes. You can also give ice chips. Use a syringe when assisting a weakened dog. Carefully give water, don’t give it too fast. You don’t want your dog to choke or be asphyxiated. You can also coax the dog with honey or honey with water. Brown sugar mixed with water will also suffice in the absence of those mentioned above.


      We can’t always prevent our dogs from getting sick. As responsible pet owners, what we can only do is give them a healthy, well-balanced diet, be mindful of our surroundings, a safe place to roam around, updated vaccinations, and regular vet check-ups. Prevention is always better than cure. Remember, they are like children. Would leave your child unattended?

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