Dog First Aid | Pupford

Dog First Aid: Basic Skills, Treatment, and First Aid Kits

***Disclaimer: If you believe your pup is having an emergency, stop reading and call your vet NOW. This article does not replace taking your dog to the vet and/or enrolling in a certified dog first aid class.***

As a pup parent, you are probably all too aware that accidents do happen. That’s why learning about dog first aid can be vital for your dog’s safety!

And as much as we would like to shelter our Shebas, protect our Poodles, and shield our Samoyeds, we can’t be there for every waking moment of their lives. 

No matter how much we would like to be.

First aid, by definition, is the treatment administered during a medical emergency before medical professionals are present.

And even though no one will know your tag wagging child as well as you do, it is important to seek professional help during any big or small emergency. 

By the end of this blog, you’ll know how to build a first aid kit for your four-legged family member, how to treat common emergencies, and skills you should learn to keep everyone safe.

Let’s get to it! 👇

What to Put in a Dog First Aid Kit

pictures of bandages to be used for a dog | Pupford

When assembling your dog’s first aid kit, think about what is in your human first aid kit.

Don’t complicate anything, think about the essentials, and most importantly, make one! Be prepared for as many incidents as possible—burns, poison, bites, scratches, fractures. 

According to Blue Cross for Pets, these are the must-have items when building your dog first aid kit:

  1. Bandages – a roll of self-adhesive or crepe bandage 
  2. Conforming/open-weave bandages 
  3. Some non-adhesive absorbent dressings to cover open wounds
  4. Surgical sticky tape
  5. Box of cotton wool
  6. Box of sterile absorbent gauze
  7. Blunt-ended scissors, preferably curved
  8. Thick towel
  9. Elizabethan collar

If your fluffy friend has a personal health drawback such as epilepsy, diabetes, or allergies, keep a backup of their medicine on-hand.

It is also a good idea to ask your veterinarian if you should have anything specific in case of an emergency due to the canine’s condition. 

Detecting & Treating Common Dog Emergencies

Preventing incidents is always best. But even the most responsible parents (with kids of both four and two legs) can find themselves having to take care of an emergency. 

Knowing what to look out for and how to immediately treat the situation prevents any further mishaps. Below are some common accidents that often occur with dogs. 

Heatstroke

a dog walking in the sun | Pupford

In the warmer months, our wet-nosed pals can become overheated unexpectedly. Heatstroke in dogs is defined when the core temperature is 105.8° F or higher according to the American Veterinarian

Soak towels in lukewarm water, squeeze them out, and drape them over the patient. Then place a fan in front of them. Make sure the water is lukewarm to prevent hypothermia. Then contact your veterinarian and see if your baby needs further care.

Hypothermia

a dog in the snow avoiding hypothermia | Pupford

Don’t be fooled by the fluff, even the furriest of friends can still fall victim to hypothermia. Symptoms to notice include a slow heart rate, shivering, and difficulty breathing. 

The Pet Health Network recommends covering the patient with blankets while placing heating pads around them. This brings up their body temperature while preventing more heat loss. 

Burns & scalds 

Those little wet noses can definitely sniff out where the food is. But that can also mean they may linger around the kitchen where there are hot grease and water.

Tend to the burn immediately by running it under cool water or a saline solution. This will help fight infection and ease the pain. 

Then cover with a sterile, dry dressing (which is in your dog first aid kit), and seek medical help. Since there is a chance of secondary infection, the American Kennel Club encourages every burn to be taken seriously. 

Poison

Pups sure love to get their paws into things. And sometimes their curious little noses lead your pooch to find something bad to nibble on. 

Besides finding the evidence, you can also notice them having trouble going to the bathroom, blood in their stool, irregular heartbeat, or anything else that seems off—you do know your pup best.

If you think your dog may have ingested something poisonous, take them to your vet immediately.

Dog First Aid Skills

First aid is a lot more than just the physical tools in your kit. It also includes techniques to keep your four-legged friend in the best shape before the professionals are present. 

Dog CPR

Fifty-eight percent of dogs had the return of spontaneous circulation from cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). 

This is a great skill to know how to administer, but please only administer it if your pupper is showing signs of not breathing and/or no heartbeat.

The recommendations for CPR in dogs by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) 

  • Perform 100 to 120 chest compressions per minute of one-third to one-half of the chest width, with the animal lying on its side.
  • Ventilate intubated dogs and cats at a rate of 10 breaths per minute. For mouth-to-snout ventilation, maintain a compression-to-ventilation ratio of 30-2.
  • Perform CPR in 2-minute cycles, switching the person performing the compressions with each cycle.
  • Administer vasopressors every 3 to 5 minutes during CPR.

Muzzling

Even the most docile, calm, and lazy logs of dogs can harm the hand that is trying to help them.

Securing their mouth will keep them from unintentionally hurting themselves or humans while first aid is being performed.

If you’re looking for ways to get your dog used to a muzzle, check out this video from Zak George.

Wrapping

Similar to muzzling, wrapping your pup up can make the situation less ruff on both you and them. Wrapping them in a blanket or towel (one should be in your first aid kit) ensures that everyone stays safe and the injury doesn’t worsen. Be sure to keep their head exposed and do not constrict their windpipe. 

Recap of Dog First Aid

The best way to feel fully prepared for most circumstances is through education. You can find a dog first aid course at your local pet store or even take an online class

Taking a course will increase your chancing of knowing how to care for your canine.

Though we hope you never have to use this new-found knowledge! 

Have any questions about dog first aid? Ask them below in the comments.

Additionally, if you’re looking to learn the basics of dog behavior, check out our 100% free training app.

Written by Devin Stagg

Since being deprived of dogs during his childhood, he and his wife decided to make up for it by having three dogs, two Lab puppies, and one grandpa Puggle. Meaning you won’t see him not covered in dog hair. When he’s not busy training his dogs and/or picking up their poop, you can find him cheering on Tottenham Hotspur and all Cleveland sports (yes, even the Browns).

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