What’s the worst nightmare a pet parent can have when it comes to the beloved animals in their care? Aside from pets getting lost, accidents may be one of the top things that owners dread. Whether they’re minor scrapes or serious injuries, no pet parent wants to experience the fear of seeing their pet in pain. However, if the unimaginable happens and owners are forced to find the best solution for care, it’s absolutely crucial that they know of the major first aid knowledge that can save their dogs.
In this article, we’ll help you equip yourselves with essential dog first aid tips so you can be ready if emergencies or accidents happen at home.
Table of Contents
Are Dog Emergencies Common?
While dog emergencies and accidents are avoidable, there’s no doubt that they’re highly common because of the wide range of situations that may be dangerous for pets. These can range from accidental poisoning from household materials to choking or bites from other animals.
Aside from these accidents, pets may also be afflicted with medical emergencies, including heat stroke, respiratory discomfort, and other conditions that may happen without warning.
What pet owners need to understand, though, is that pet emergencies may be more common for pets at certain ages – especially for very young animals or senior pets. For example, young dogs, particularly Labradors and Jack Russell puppies, are highly energetic, so it’s not uncommon that they’ll bump into furniture and cause things to fall off shelves – in some instances, they may also approach other animals that may see them as a threat.
For senior pets, on the other hand, certain activities may expose them to higher risks of physical distress, like skeletal injuries and cardiac arrest.
This is why being knowledgeable about pet first aid should be required for every pet parent out there, so that they can increase their pets’ rates of survival when the unthinkable happens.
8 Emergency First Aid Tips to Keep Top of Mind
Knowing the basics of pet first aid should be at the forefront of your priorities when it comes to pet care. In this section, we’ll run through some of the most basic essentials that you need to know when facing dog emergencies.
Learn How to Recognize Dog Emergencies
The top first aid tip you need is to be aware of the signs that may point to pet emergencies, whether we’re talking about heat stroke, respiratory problems, or the more obvious physical injuries. Unfortunately, many pet parents often overlook the first signs of pet emergencies, with many setting them aside as signs of normal exhaustion after an activity.
To avoid this error, always remember these pet emergency signs:
- Dilated pupils
- Whining or any vocal indications of pain
- Stumbling or loss of balance
- Wheezing or difficulty breathing
- Seizures or convulsions
- Diarrhea or consistent vomiting
- Unconsciousness or unresponsiveness
- Limping or difficulty moving
If you notice any of these signs, you may apply certain first aid assistance as an initial step. However, remember that first aid should always be followed by immediate veterinary consultation.
Know How to Perform Animal CPR
What happens when your dog stops breathing or you notice no heartbeat? One of the most important life-saving steps is to perform CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
To help you, here is a guide on how you can successfully perform CPR on your unresponsive pet:
- Clear your pet’s airway. Check your pet’s airway for any possible obstructions. Check their mouth or the area around their nose. Additionally, remove any materials that may get in the way while you’re performing CPR.
- Place your dog on their side. If your pet’s position is not conducive to CPR, carefully move their body so that they’re lying on their side. Remove any materials that may have become lodged beneath them. As much as possible, you want your pet to be completely straight against the floor.
- Put your hands over your dog’s ribcage. Arrange your hands so that they’re on top of each other. Place both on top of your pet’s ribcage, ideally just under their front armpit.
- Start compressions. Perform chest compressions at around 100 to 120 compressions per minute. Compress their chest to about ⅓ of their chest’s depth and allow it to recoil before following with another compression.
- Blow into your dog’s nose. After about 30 compressions, close your dog’s mouth and blow a breath into their nose. Make sure that their chest rises when you’re giving them rescue breaths.
- Continue compressions. Continue the chest compressions until your pet starts breathing on their own again. Make sure to contact your veterinarian and bring your pet in so that a licensed pet care professional can continue any other necessary treatments.
Learn How to Stop Bleeding
If your dog becomes injured and they’re actively bleeding, stem the blood loss by applying pressure using your hands and a clean cloth. Make sure to elevate the wound if possible to keep blood from flowing and to lower blood pressure in the affected area. Apply a cold compress on the wound if possible, but avoid direct skin contact with ice. This will help your pet’s blood vessels to constrict and will slow the bleeding.
If the bleeding does not stop, seek immediate veterinary care, as this may point to artery or vein damage, which will need stitches.
Learn How to Perform the Heimlich Maneuver
If your dog starts gagging, coughing, or pawing at their mouth while having difficulty breathing, this might be a sign that they’re choking. To successfully unlodge whatever is choking your dog, your best bet is to perform the Heimlich Maneuver with these simple steps:
- Stand behind your dog and place both your hands just below their ribcage. Close one hand into a fist and place your other open hand on top.
- Apply quick upward pressure to your pet’s abdomen several times until the object is dislodged from their airway.
- Make sure to observe your dog’s behavior after performing the Heimlich Maneuver and seek immediate veterinary care if they continue to have breathing difficulties.
Learn How to Deal With Accidental Poisoning
Accidental poisoning is one of the most common types of pet emergencies that pet owners may experience – especially since there are a lot of household materials that are poisonous to dogs. These may include cleaning supplies, medication, pesticides and other toxins that may have been left unsupervised around your pets. These emergencies are also quite tricky since a lot of emergency measures may be damaging if not performed accurately.
This is why we recommend contacting veterinary emergency services before you apply poisoning first aid. The best thing you can do is to have hydrogen peroxide and activated charcoal available at home at all times.
Hydrogen peroxide is an effective vomit inducer, while activated charcoal may help absorb any ingested toxins. Having these at home or in an emergency pet kit will help you apply first aid measures depending on your veterinarian’s instructions.
Dealing with pet emergencies can be exhausting and highly stressful, but it is often a part of pet ownership. While you can create the safest environment for your pets at home, accidents can be unpredictable and will sometimes happen out of nowhere. These first aid tips are only some of the things you need to remember to give your pets a fighting chance when accidents or emergencies happen – but we still hope you never experience them!