First Aid Tips For Your Dog
Would you know what to do if your dog was choking? Or if they break their leg? Knowing what to do in an emergency can be the difference between life and death, so check out these top tips for common pet emergencies...
Be Prepared With A Dog First Aid Kit
Firstly, you can never be too prepared! Keep your vet's name, address and telephone number stored in your phone for quick access.
It's also a great idea to create a pet first aid kit and keep one in your home and one in your car. First aid kits for dogs are much the same as human ones, here is a list of the essential items to include, or alternatively, check out our dog first aid kit here!
- Wound wash
- Cotton wool
- Tweezers along with tick tweezers
- Wound dressing
- Self-adhesive surgical sticky tape
- Blunt-ended scissors, preferably curved
- Vinyl gloves
- Foil blanket
- Antiseptic wipes
- A blanket to use as a stretcher.
For more detailed information on how to use and build a first aid kit, or even build your own, check out this helpful video to find out more...
What To Do In An Emergency
- Always phone your vets first, there may not always be a vet available but staff may be able to suggest immediate action you can take.
- Have a pen handy in case another number is given. Treatment can usually be provided more quickly if your pet is taken in, rather than if the vet is called out.
- If there is a risk of biting, put a muzzle on your pet.
- Do not offer food or drink in case anaesthetic is needed.
- Drive carefully when taking the patient to the surgery
As with humans, it’s helpful to remember the following acronym 'Dr ABCs' if you have an emergency. This will help you approach the situation calmly:
- Danger – keep yourself and others around you safe
- Response – check if your pet responds to their name or touch
- Airway – is their airway clear?
- Breathing – are they breathing?
- Circulation – do they have a pulse or heartbeat?
- Send – someone to ask for help!
What To Do If Your Dog Is Choking
A choking dog or cat will have difficulty breathing, will be making choking noises and might also paw at their mouths. You might also see their lips, gums and tongue turning blue. Be careful, a choking pet may panic and bite.
What to do:
Step 1: Is your pet choking?
- Can they breathe? If your pet is coughing, they can still breathe in - if they are choking, your pet will struggle to breathe at all
Step 2: Try to remove what they're choking on
- If you can see the object in their mouth use pliers or tweezers to remove it
- If your pet is unconscious, open their mouth and gently sweep your fingers across the back of their throat to remove anything lodged
- If you can't remove the object:
- Lay your pet on their side
- Place both hands on the side of your pet's rib cage
- Push quickly and firmly or strike the rib cage with the flat of your hand 3 to 4 times
- The idea is to push air and the object out of their lungs. Keep repeating until the object comes out
- If you're unable to dislodge the object, take your pet to an emergency vet
How To Perform Dog CPR
Step 1: Check if your pet needs CPR (ABC)
- Airway - Pull the tongue forwards to check there is nothing in their throat and remove anything lodged
- Breathing - Look and listen - are they breathing, can you see their chest rising and falling, or feel breath coming from their nostrils?
- Circulation - If they're not breathing, check for a pulse - place your hand over their chest where the elbow meets the rib cage can you feel a heartbeat?
If you are sure there is NO heartbeat, you must start CPR.
Step 2: Performing CPR
- Place your dog on their right side on a firm, flat surface (dogs with barrel-shaped chest must be laid on their back as CPR is done at the midpoint of the chest)
- Compress the chest at 2 per second at the widest part of the chest (sing 'Staying Alive' and compress to the beat)
- for large dogs - use both hands
- for small dogs - use one hand
- Each compression should depress the chest by half to two thirds
- Keep your arms straight and try to swap with someone intermittently
- Create a seal with your mouth around the dog's nose and blow down the nostrils
- Check for a heartbeat
- If the dog is still not breathing and there is no heartbeat, repeat the process - giving 30 compressions and 2 breaths until a vet arrives or until the heartbeat or breathing returns
Here is a useful video to watch...
What To Do If Your Dog Breaks Their Leg
A broken bone will be very painful and confusing for your dog, ensure you call your vet for advice immediately if you think your dog has a broken bone.
What to do:
Step 1: Check your pet
- Check your pet for any other injuries, if they've been hit by a car, they could have internal injuries
- Pale gums can be a sign they have lost blood or they are in shock
- If they have a wound, cover with a bandage or cloth to prevent infections
- Control any severe bleeding by applying light pressure
Step 2: Move them to a safe place
- Avoid touching the area which is painful
- Don't allow them to walk if you think they have a broken leg
- Carry them to a flat surface and lay them down if you suspect a spinal injury
Step 2: Call your vets
- If your pet can't walk or stand, call your vets for an emergency appointment
- If your pet is still able to walk, call your vet for advice
- Do not give your pet any food or drink until you've spoken with your vet
All information provided: source PDSA. Please note this is just a guide, we suggest to always seek professional advice.