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

August 21st, 2023

Filed under Health + Wellness

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***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.

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 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. 


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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!


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 & 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 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. 

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. 

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. 


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.


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. 

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.

Check out our Dog First Aid Course taught by Veterinarian Shelby Baden and 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

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

PS- Dog first aid can come in handy when any emergency or disaster strikes. Learn about emergency prep for dogs here.


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