Dog & Puppy First Aid: DIY First Aid Kits, Treatments & Courses | Pupford
February 20th, 2024
Filed under Health + Wellness
***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, veterinary care generally, and/or enrolling in a dog first aid class.***
As a pup parent, you are probably all too aware that accidents do happen. That’s why learning about dog & puppy 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 tail-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 dog, how to treat common emergencies, and skills you should learn to keep everyone safe.
Here's a general outline of the article:
- What to put in a dog first aid kit
- Detecting and treating common emergencies
- Burns & scalds
- Dog first aid skills
- Dog CPR
- Course options
Let's get to it!
What to Put in a Dog First Aid Kit - DIY
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 or minor cuts, a wound, fractures, bleeding, etc.
Here are the must-have items when building your DIY dog first aid kit:
- Bandage material – a roll of self-adhesive or crepe bandage
- Conforming/open-weave bandages
- Some non-adhesive absorbent dressings to cover open wounds
- Surgical sticky tape
- Antibiotic ointment
- Box of cotton wool
- Styptic powder
- Box of sterile absorbent gauze
- Blunt-ended scissors, preferably curved
- Thick towel
- Elizabethan collar
Or you can check out a pre-made dog first aid kit here.
It is also a good idea to ask your veterinarian if you should have anything specific in case of an emergency due to your canine’s condition.
The first step in pet first aid is being as prepared as possible! It can be a life-saving step before veterinary care can be administered.
PS- Dog first aid can come in handy when any emergency or disaster strikes. Learn about emergency prep for dogs here.
Preventative Care - The First Step
Any conversation about pet first aid warrants the reminder to practice proper preventative care for your dog. While accidents and emergencies are often unavoidable, many health problems can be prevented.
Ensuring you follow a proper puppy vaccine schedule, providing proper dental care, and frequent vet visits can help you avoid costly and life-altering illnesses.
So, follow the best health practices for your dog to avoid as many health problems as possible!
And before we dive into common emergencies below, here's another reminder to puppy proof your home.
Properly storing toxic products, removing wires, and generally not giving a puppy too much freedom can help you avoid many dangerous situations.
🐶 Don't miss out on a life-saving resource. Get access to the Dog First Aid Course here!
Detecting & Treating Common Dog Emergencies
Preventing incidents is always best. But even the most responsible pet parent (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.
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.
It's also important to note that dehydration in dogs can happen very quickly in the warm months!
Don’t be fooled by the fluff, even the furriest of friends can still fall victim to hypothermia. Symptoms & signs of hypothermia 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 pet 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.
Related Reading: 10 Signs a Dog is in Pain
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. Whether it's a food with xylitol, a chocolate bar, or toxic plants, poisoning is a common issue for puppies.
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.
It's also a good idea to call the Pet Poison Helpline for extra assistance. Their number is 800-213-6680.
Related Reading: Things That Are Toxic to Dogs
Dog First Aid Training & 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.
🐶 Don't miss out on a life-saving resource. Get access to the Dog First Aid Course here!
Learning pet CPR can help you save a dog's life! 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 puppy or dog is showing signs of not breathing and/or no heartbeat. Here's a video excerpt from our Dog First Aid Course about how to give a dog CPR.
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.
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.
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.
Dog First Aid Courses - Including Online Options
The best way to feel fully prepared for most circumstances is through education. Taking a formal class can help you feel confident in your pet first aid skills.
You can find a dog first aid course at your local pet store, or even take an online class. Some cities and towns will offer free pet first aid classes through a local shelter.
Taking a course will increase your chance of knowing how to care for your canine. As part of Pupford Academy+, we offer a Dog First Aid Course. It contains dozens of video modules to help you diagnose issues, apply first aid, and even perform life-saving tasks like CPR.
Our Dog First Aid Course is taught by Veterinarian Shelby Baden and you'll learn:
➡ Vaccines and their importance
➡ Preventative tips and medicine
➡ DIY & at-home remedies for common ailments including paw care and CPR
➡ Emergencies and how to handle them as a pup parent
This course comes in an easy-to-follow video format with written recaps and a downloadable PDF. Get access to the Dog First Aid Course here!
Dog First Aid Recap
Seeing your pup injured can be extremely scary and can make you feel helpless. Being prepared with a first aid kit, in your home and car preferably, can help you take life-saving actions in case of an emergency.
And by learning skills like CPR and basic wound care, you can feel more equipped to help your dog in a time of need.
Be sure to get access to the online Dog First Aid Course here!
Have any questions about dog first aid? Ask them below in the comments.