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Essential First Aid for Dogs

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Essential First Aid for Dogs

Every owner should know how to give first aid to their dogs. Dogs can suffer from different wounds or bites, or shock or cardiac arrest; emergency help should be given before getting to the vet.

Wounds and Bleeding

When your dog has a wound or is bleeding, you need to stop the bleeding by applying compresses. Next, remove any foreign particles from the wound, clip the hair around the wound and clean the wound with betadine or chlorhexidine, solutions that should be present in dog first aid kits. You may also use antibacterial soap.

If the wound is a burn wound, keep cool compresses on the wound before cleaning and covering it.

Cover the wound with an antibiotic cream and use some gauze bandages to cover the wound. Bandages are recommended to prevent infection which may be caused by the dog licking the area or by foreign objects.

This treatment is sufficient if the wound is superficial; however if the wound is deeper, apply pressure to stop the bleeding first. Get immediate help; some sutures may be needed.


A fracture may be easily identified; before acting on the fracture make sure to control the bleeding or shock, as the case may be. Immobilize the joints above and below the fracture. Don’t push bones back and if the wound is open, cover it with sterile bandages. Go to the vet.

First Aid for a Dog Bite

If the dog bite is caused by another dog, the bite should be treated like a wound.

In case the bite is provoked by a snake, go to the vet immediately. Keep the area immobilized; making sure that it is below heart level, to prevent the spreading of the venom. If the bite is on the limbs you may use a bandage above the wound, so that the venom doesn’t spread. Don’t wash the area, as this may help the absorption of the venom. Don’t try to suck out the venom; this may hurt you.

Keep your calm and go to the vet.

Dog in Shock

Shocks are caused by lack of oxygen, trauma, burns, bites or poisoning. You will notice symptoms including paleness, weak pulse, cold limbs, rapid and shallow breathing, confusion, low body temperature or dilated pupils.

If the dog is bleeding, keep the bleeding under control.

Keep calm and use reassuring words; dogs in shock are scared and may even bite you. You may place a muzzle on, but supervise your dog and remove it if he has breathing difficulties or wants to vomit.

Make sure to keep your dog warm. Go to the vet immediately.

Canine Poisoning

There are a lot of things that may be poisonous to dogs: plants, antifreeze, rat poison or chocolate. As first aid, try to make your dog vomit. Use a few drops of 3% solution of hydroxide peroxide dilated in water; use a syringe to make your dog ingest the solution. Take your pet to the vet and he will give an antidote or medicine to absorb the poison in your dog’s system.

Breathing and CPR

Before performing CPR or breathing, make sure that the airways of the dog are not obstructed. See if there are any signs of breathing.

If the dog is not breathing, breathe into his nostrils and cover the mouth. If the air gets into the lungs, you will notice chest growth. Administrate 8 to 10 breaths per minute.

CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is needed when the dog doesn’t have a pulse. Use your hand heel to apply firm compressions on your dog’s chest. Apply 80 to 120 compressions per minute. CPR may be accompanied by breathing help, so it’s recommended that two people perform the resuscitation.

Heat Exhaustion or Heat Stroke

Keep the dog in the shade, make sure he gets rest. Offer him water and try to cool his body by using cold compresses. You may also use ice wrapped in a towel.

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