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BASIC FIRST AID AT HOME: OVERVIEW

Dog Care - Basic First Aid At Home

Basic first aid for your dog involves your dealing with injuries or other physical problems your pet might encounter in and around your home. Three precautions you should take immediately are to learn CPR for dogs in case you ever need it, put together a Dog First Aid Kit and program the phone numbers for your vet, the National Animal Poison Control Center and the closest animal hospital that offers emergency services (if you have one) as speed dial numbers on your home and/or cell phones.

Some of these first aid issues will be minor and you can handle them yourself. Others may involve a medical emergency where you might have to treat the problem immediately, prepare your dog for transporting in a way that minimizes the chance of further injury and then take him to the veterinary hospital. In either case, your responsibility as owner is to know the following:

  • What symptoms to look for

     

  • What the possible causes are

     

  • What you should do to treat the animal

     

  • What you should not do

     

  • When to call the vet or transport your dog to a veterinary hospital

     

The tables that follow provide this information at a glance, organized alphabetically by the type of problem. They also provide links to find more detailed information, if it's available, on each category.

 

Bite and Stings, Insect
Symptoms: Redness and/or swelling
Possible Causes: Mosquitoes, chiggers, spiders, other biting insects
What to Do: 1. Try to identify the insect.

 

2. If you see an embedded stinger, remove it by scraping it with a hard object such as your fingernail or a credit card.

3. Make a paste of baking soda and water and apply it to the affected area.

4. Apply ice or cold packs to the affected area to keep swelling and pain to a minimum.

5. You can apply Calamine lotion or Cortaid for itching and administer an antihistamine, such as Diphenhydramine, if your veterinarian approves. Small dogs (<30 lbs.=10 mg.), medium dogs (30-50 lbs.=25 mg.) and large dogs (>50 lbs.=50 mg.).

6. Call your veterinarian.

What Not to Do: 1. Do not attempt to remove an embedded stinger as you would a splinter; this may release more toxins.

2. Do not attempt to give an antihistamine if your pet is unconscious, able to breathe and not vomiting.

When to Call the Vet or Transport to a Veterinary Hospital: 1. Transport immediately if your dog exhibits signs of an allergic reaction, such as swelling of the face and neck or difficulty breathing

2. If your dog goes into shock or otherwise seems ill.

Where to Look for More Information: Allergic Reactions
CPR

 

 

Bites, Snake
Symptoms: Puncture wounds, redness, swelling; if the snake is poisonous, your dog may exhibit signs of respiratory or motor difficulties
Possible Causes: Snake or other venomous animals
What to Do: 1. Keep your dog calm. If he gets excited, the accelerated heart rate will spread the poison (if the snake is poisonous) more rapidly.

2. If you see the snake, remember what it looks like. Identifying the kind of snake is important for determining treatment options.

3. If the bite is on an extremity (his leg, for example), tie a handkerchief or bandage around it between the bite wound and your dog's heart. Tie it loose enough so you can slip one finger underneath it.

4. If your dog goes into shock:

  • Attempt to calm your dog by talking soothingly.
  • Put your dog in a comfortable position. Elevate his hind end slightly if you are sure his back is not broken.
  • Cover your dog with a blanket.
5. If your dog stops breathing, administer CPR.

6. If your dog is not in dire physical distress, wash the wound with mild soap and water.

What Not to Do: 1. Do not try to suck the venom out.

2. Do not put ice on the wound.

3. Do not tie the bandage too tight (you don't want to cut off circulation).

When to Call the Vet or Transport to a Veterinary Hospital: Transport immediately
Where to Look for More Information: Snake Bite
Shock
CPR

 

 

Bite Wounds, Other Animals
Symptoms: Unruptured abscess that is red or blue and swollen; ruptured abscess with foul smelling pus; loss of appetite; fever above 103°F; lethargy.
Possible Causes: Being attacked, fighting
What to Do: 1. Control bleeding.

 

2. If you witness the attack, try to find out if the animal has rabies or has been vaccinated against rabies.

3. If the attacking animal is wild and it is dead, take it with you to the veterinarian. Wear gloves to carefully pick up the animal and place it in a bag.

  • If your dog has an abscess or wound, clip the hair around the wound and flush it with water.
  • What Not to Do: Do not try to capture the attacking animal if it is still alive.
    When to Call the Vet or Transport to a Veterinary Hospital: Transport immediately. Hopefully, your dog has already had his rabies shot. Regardless of that, your dog will need to see your veterinarian as soon as possible to prevent infection.
    Where to Look for More Information: Abscesses

     

     

    Bleeding
    Possible Causes: Animal bites, fighting, injury
    What to Do: 1. Cover the wound with a piece of sterile gauze or a clean washcloth and apply direct pressure to the wound site. If blood soaks through the covering, apply more cloth or gauze over the wound, repeating as necessary.

    2. If the bleeding doesn't stop and the wound is spurting (which indicates a cut artery), apply pressure to the area just above the wound with your hand. If the wound is oozing but not spurting, apply pressure below the wound.

    3. If the wound is still bleeding, apply a pressure bandage by wrapping gauze or another soft material around the wound. Check periodically for swelling.

    4. If the wound is on a limb and the limb is not broken, elevate it above your dog's heart to slow the bleeding.

    5. If the wound is spurting and continues to bleed after Steps 1 through 4 have been completed, apply a tourniquet. To make a tourniquet, tie a piece of gauze or cloth above the wound. Make a loop and insert a stick in the loop. Twist the stick until the bleeding is under control. Be sure to loosen the tourniquet for two to three minutes every 30 minutes to allow blood to flow into the limb.

    What Not to Do: 1. Do not remove the gauze or cloth from the wound because this can dislodge a formed clot and restart bleeding.

    2. Do not use neck pressure on animals with head injuries.

    When to Call the Vet or Transport to a Veterinary Hospital: Transport immediately if the bleeding is severe and cannot be stopped if the wound needs cleaning or stitches or if there is an embedded object.
    Where to Look for More Information: Wounds and Bleeding

     

     

    Breathing Problems
    Symptoms: Increased breathing effort, pale or blue mucous membranes, fainting, voice changes, cessation of breathing.
    Possible Causes: Asthma, lung infections, overheating, electrical shock
    What to Do: If the dog stops breathing, start artificial breathing:
    1. 1. Lie the dog on his right side.

       

    2. 2. Open the mouth and clear any blockages.

       

    3. 3. For medium/large dogs, put your hand around the muzzle to seal the mouth.

       

    4. 4. Put your mouth over the dog's nose and exhale until the chest expands. If the dog's chest does not rise and fall during mouth-to-nose breathing, breathe more forcefully until it does.

       

    5. 5. Give four or five quick breaths, then check to see if the dog is breathing. Continue artificial breathing until the dog begins breathing on his own.

     

    Perform CPR if there is no pulse.

     

    For small dogs (<30 pounds):

    1. Continue artificial breathing. If another person is available nearby, they can help with breathing or heart massage.

       

    2. Place the palm of one of your hands over the ribs where the elbow touches the chest. Place your other hand underneath the right side of the dog.

       

    3. Compress the chest to one inch five times; administer artificial breath and repeat.

       

    4. Pause every two minutes to check for breathing and pulse.

       

    5. Continue until the heart starts beating and the dog is breathing on his own.

    For large dogs (>30 pounds):

    1. Kneel or stand with the dog's back toward you.

       

    2. Straighten your arms and cup your hands, one over the other.

       

    3. Press down on the chest one to three inches where the left elbow meets the chest. Complete five compressions, then one breath and check for a pulse.
    What Not to Do: 1. Do not put your fingers in the mouth of a conscious animal.

    2. Do not assume there is no pulse if the animal is not breathing.

    When to Call the Vet or Transport to a Veterinary Hospital: Transport immediately.
    Where to Look for More Information: Loss of consciousness
    Poisoning
    Drowning
    Respiratory Emergencies

     

     

    Broken Bones
    Symptoms: Lameness, swelling, abnormally positioned limbs, pain, maybe bruising, bone protruding through skin
    Possible Causes: Car accident, falling from a high place, fighting, abuse, rough play, bone disease
    What to Do: 1. If the dog is conscious, try to calm him.

     

    2. If the dog is unconscious, check for breathing and pulse and administer CPR if needed.

    3. If a bone is protruding through the skin, wash the area with water, place a loose dressing over the wound and wrap it with tape. Make sure the dressing is loose enough to not disturb or move the bone.

    4. Splint the fracture with a magazine or newspaper. Put the magazine or newspaper under the leg and loosely roll it around the leg. Put a piece of tape around the top and bottom of the splint. DO NOT pull on the leg.

    5. Begin taping just above the magazine to attach the splint to the leg for transport. Continue taping all the way down the leg, but do not cover the toes.

    What Not to Do: 1. Do not splint the limb unless you are sure you can do it properly. Improper splinting can cause further injury.

    2. Do not splint the limb if the animal struggles excessively.

    When to Call the Vet or Transport to a Veterinary Hospital: Transport immediately.
    Where to Look for More Information: Leg or Tail Injuries

     

     

    Burns
    Symptoms: Red skin, pain, swelling, loss of skin, charred appearance of skin
    Possible Causes: Chemicals, electric shock, fire, hot water, heating pads, hair dryers
    What to Do: 1. Apply cool water. This can be done by immersing the area in a cool bath, by running water over the burn or by applying cool compresses to the area. If more than one area is affected, do not immerse the dog in a cool bath because this can cause shock.

    2. Apply a sterile non-stick bandage to the area to keep it clean.

    What Not to Do: Do not apply ointments, butter or petroleum jelly.
    When to Call the Vet or Transport to a Veterinary Hospital: Transport immediately.
    Where to Look for More Information: Electrical Shock
    Burns in accidents & emergencies

     

     

    Choking
    Symptoms: Cessation of breathing, difficulty breathing, making loud noises when breathing, anxiety, blue-tinged or white gums
    Possible Causes: Foreign object in throat, illness (choking on vomit), allergic reaction (swollen tongue), trauma
    What to Do: 1. Open the dog's mouth and feel for any foreign objects with your finger.

     

    2. Remove the object, if possible.

    3. With the dog standing, lift his hind legs into the air (like a wheelbarrow), leaving his front legs on the floor or table, to dislodge the object.

    4. If that fails, perform the Heimlich Maneuver:

    Make a fist with each of your hands and place them below the dog's last rib. Thrust up rapidly on the abdomen. Repeat five times.

    5. Perform artificial breathing. If a tiny bit of air gets past the object, it may be enough to dislodge it when you repeat Step 4.

    6. Repeat Step 4.

    7. If the object is still stuck, take the palm of your hand and sharply strike the dog between the shoulder blades to dislodge it.

    8. Put your fingers in the dog's mouth and feel for and remove the object.

    9. Administer CPR as needed.

    What Not to Do: Do not put your fingers in your dog's mouth if he is alert or growling.
    When to Call the Vet or Transport to a Veterinary Hospital: Transport immediately if you could not dislodge the object. Otherwise, transporting depends on the severity of incident. Call your vet and ask. If the problem is caused by illness (vomiting), transport immediately.
    Where to Look for More Information: CPR

     

     

    Cold Exposure (Hypothermia)
    Symptoms: Dilated pupils, shivering, body temperature below 95°F, unconsciousness, coma or stupor, pale blue mucous membranes, weakened pulse or decreased heart rate
    Possible Causes: Being caught in a storm, left outside, shock, illness, inability to regulate temperature (puppies)
    What to Do: 1. Immediately remove the dog from the cold.

     

    2. Check for breathing and pulse and administer CPR as necessary.

    3. Check for shock and treat as necessary.

    4. Take the dog's temperature rectally.

    5. Give the dog a warm bath and rub him vigorously with towels afterward.

    6. Wrap the dog in a blanket and place warmed bottles of water under his armpits and next to his chest and abdomen.

    7. Check the dog's temperature every 10 minutes until it reaches 100°F.

    8. Mix four teaspoons of sugar with a pint of water and encourage the dog to drink some.

    When to Call the Vet or Transport to a Veterinary Hospital: In severe cases, take to the veterinary hospital to make sure the dog has no permanent damage (frozen limbs) and his temperature is stable.
    Where to Look for More Information: Frostbite
    Freezing
    Hypothermia

     

     

    Convulsions
    Symptoms: Anxiety immediately before the seizure, falling over, twitching, urinating, drooling, staring into space. After seizure, dog may appear to be blind.
    Possible Causes: Tumor, abscess, brain infection, birth defect, scar tissue from old head injury, poisoning, illness.
    What to Do: 1. Make sure the dog is in a safe place (for example, not near the stairs).

    2. Time the seizure and write down the length and time of day. Seizures lasting more than two minutes or cluster seizures (seizures occurring one after another) constitute a medical emergency.

    3. If you feel the dog may hurt himself, restrain him by putting a blanket on top of him and holding the ends down.

    What Not to Do: 1. Do not hold the dog's tongue.

    2. Do not put your hands near his mouth.

    3. Do not disturb the dog during or immediately following the seizure.

    When to Call the Vet or Transport to a Veterinary Hospital: Transport immediately.
    Where to Look for More Information: Convulsions

     

     

    CPR and Artificial Breathing
    When to Use: Cessation of breathing or heartbeat
    Possible Situations: Airway obstruction, illness, injury, poisoning, insect sting, animal or snake bite, severe bleeding, trauma
    What to Do: CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation, artificial breathing and heart massage)

     

    1. Follow the ABCs of CPR:

    A = Airway: Check to see if the airway is open; pull the tongue out between the teeth to see if there's a blockage.

    B = Breathing: Check to see if the dog is breathing. Put your hand on his chest to determine if it moves up and down, which signals respiration. Put your cheek next to the dog's nose and feel for air.

    C = Circulation: Feel for a pulse by putting your hand underneath the hind leg where it meets the body.

     

    If the dog isn't breathing, start artificial breathing:

    1. Lie the dog on his right side.

       

    2. Open the mouth and clear any blockages.

       

    3. For medium/large dogs, put your hand around the muzzle to seal the mouth.

       

    4. Put your mouth over the dog's nose and exhale until the chest expands. If the dog's chest does not rise and fall during mouth-to-nose breathing, breathe more forcefully until it does.

       

    5. Give four or five quick breaths, then check to see if the dog is breathing. Continue artificial breathing until the dog begins breathing on his own.

     

    CPR: Perform if there is no pulse.

    For small dogs (<30 pounds):

    1. Continue artificial breathing. If another person is available nearby, they can help with breathing or heart massage.

       

    2. Place the palm of one of your hands over the ribs where the elbow touches the chest. Place your other hand underneath the right side of the dog.

       

    3. Compress the chest to one inch five times; administer artificial breath and repeat.

       

    4. Pause every two minutes to check for breathing and pulse.

       

    5. Continue until the heart starts beating and the dog is breathing on his own.

    For large dogs (>30 pounds):

    1. Kneel or stand with the dog's back toward you.

       

    2. Straighten your arms and cup your hands, one over the other.

       

    3. Press down on the chest one to three inches where the left elbow meets the chest. Complete five compressions, then one breath and check for a pulse.
    What Not to Do: 1. Do not put your fingers in the mouth of a conscious animal

    2. Do not assume there is no pulse because the animal is not breathing.

    When to Call the Vet or Transport to a Veterinary Hospital: Transport immediately
    Where to Look for More Information: Unconsciousness
    Loss of consciousness
    Poisoning
    Respiratory Emergencies
    Trauma

     

     

    Drowning
    Possible Causes: Boating accident, swimming and becoming fatigued, disasters (flooding), falling through ice, abuse, falling in a pool and not being able to get out, unattended small dog left in a bathtub.
    What to Do: 1. Pull your pet out of the water. If the water is deep, use a floatation device for yourself.

     

    2. If the dog is unconscious, lift him up by his hind legs to drain any water from the chest. Then, put a blanket under his hind legs, so the body is higher than the head, to drain any remaining water. Pull the tongue out of the mouth until you feel slight tension.

    3. Check for breathing and pulse and administer CPR as necessary.

    4. Put a blanket around the dog.

    When to Call the Vet or Transport to a Veterinary Hospital: Transport immediately
    Where to Look for More Information: Dog Proofing Outside

     

     

    Ear, Foreign Object
    Symptoms: Shaking of the head, scratching or pawing at ear
    Possible Causes: Bug (ticks), hanging head out of the car window
    What to Do: 1. If the object is visible, gently remove it with tweezers.

    2. Dab any scratches or cuts with a cotton ball and antiseptic.

    What Not to Do: Do not attempt to remove the object if it is deep in the ear canal or cannot be seen.
    When to Call the Vet or Transport to a Veterinary Hospital: Transport immediately if you can't remove the object yourself to prevent ear infection or damage to the ear's structure.

     

     

    Electrical Shock
    Symptoms: Lying on the floor near the cord, loss of appetite, drooling, foul mouth odor, mouth ulcers or burns, difficulty breathing.
    Possible Causes: Chewing on electrical cords
    What to Do: 1. Turn off the power and unplug the power cord.

     

    2. Check for breathing and pulse and administer CPR as needed.

    3. Check for and treat shock.

    What Not to Do: Do not touch the dog until you turn off the power and unplug the cord.
    When to Call the Vet or Transport to a Veterinary Hospital: Transport immediately if you suspect electrical shock. Some symptoms are readily apparent but others may not appear for days.
    Where to Look for More Information: Loss of Consciousness

     

    Dog Proofing the House

     

     

    Eye Burns, Irritation
    Symptoms: Swelling, redness, discharge, pain, itchiness
    What to Do: 1. Flush the eye with generous amounts of water for 5 to 10 minutes.

    2. Prevent your dog from rubbing his eyes.

    What Not to Do: Do not apply ointment to the eye.
    When to Call the Vet or Transport to a Veterinary Hospital: Transport immediately.

     

     

    Eyes, Foreign Object
    Symptoms: Redness, swelling, rubbing or pawing at eye, squinting, discharge or runny eyes, obvious foreign object.
    Possible Causes: Hanging head out of the car window, flying debris or brushing up against a plant.
    What to Do: 1. Check the eye for any foreign objects.

    2. Wash the eye with large amounts of sterile saline solution or tap water to remove it.

    3. Check the eye with a good light to ensure the object is gone.

    4. Wipe away discharge or remaining foreign matter around the eye with a soft cloth.

    What Not to Do: 1. Do not put your fingers in your dog's eye.

    2. Do not use eye ointments.

    When to Call the Vet or Transport to a Veterinary Hospital: Transport immediately if the eye has been cut or if you are unable to remove the object.

     

     

    Fishhook Removal
    Symptoms: Drooling, loss of appetite, pain
    Possible Causes: Playing with fishing equipment, accident
    What to Do: 1. Push the hook through the exit wound until the barb is visible.

    2. Cut the bard off with wire cutters.

    3. Pull the hook out the same way it went in.

    4. Treat as a wound.

    What Not to Do: Do not attempt to remove the hook if it is embedded in the mouth or if fish line is attached and it has been swallowed.
    When to Call the Vet or Transport to a Veterinary Hospital: Call the veterinarian to see if a visit is necessary for antibiotic treatment. Transport immediately if the hook cannot be safely removed.

     

     

    Frostbite
    Symptoms: Discoloration of affected area (possibly pale or blue, if advanced, black), lack of pain and sensation in the affected area (although it will be very painful as it is warmed).
    Possible Causes: Exposure to extreme cold
    What to Do: 1. Remove the dog from the cold.

    2. Spray the affected area with warm water.

    What Not to Do: Do not warm the area suddenly.
    When to Call the Vet or Transport to a Veterinary Hospital: Transport immediately.
    Where to Look for More Information: Freezing
    Frostbite

     

     

    Heat Exhaustion
    Symptoms: Excessive panting, fainting, bloody diarrhea or vomit, increased respiratory rate, redder than normal mucous membrane, stupor, salivation, moisture accumulation on feet, high temperature (can get as high as 110°F)
    Possible Causes: Being left in a parked car, lack of shelter, excessive exercise, illness, seizures, heavy-coated dogs in warm climates
    What to Do: 1. Immediately remove the dog from the source of the heat. Take him inside or to a shaded area.

    2. Check and treat for shock as necessary.

    • Take the dog's temperature rectally.
    • Cool the dog's body temperature quickly by immersing him in cold water or by applying cold, wet towels. You can also use a garden hose if one is available, but make sure the water is cool before spraying the dog.
    3. Turn on a fan and point it at the dog.

    4. Rub alcohol on the dog's front and back foot pads and back of the legs.

    5. Put ice packs on head, chest and thighs.

    6. Check the dog's rectal temperature every 10 minutes. Continue treatment as described in Step 4 until the temperature falls to 104°F.

    When to Call the Vet or Transport to a Veterinary Hospital: After cooling the dog to a temperature of 104°F, transport immediately. There are many serious complications of heat exhaustion (kidney failure, abnormal heartbeat, cessation of breathing, seizures and brain swelling), some of which can be fatal. Some complications may not present themselves for hours.
    Where to Look for More Information: Heatstroke

     

     

    Nose, Foreign Object
    Symptoms: Pawing at nose, sneezing
    Possible Causes: Accidental inhalation of foreign object
    What to Do: 1. Look in the nose to see if the object is visible.

    2. If you can see the foreign object, gently remove it with tweezers.

    What Not to Do: Do not attempt to remove the object if it is high up in the nose.
    When to Call the Vet or Transport to a Veterinary Hospital: Transport immediately if the object cannot be removed.

     

     

    Poisoning
    Symptoms: Vomiting or diarrhea; seizures, drooling or foaming at the mouth; swollen or red skin, ulcers in the mouth; burned lips, mouth or skin; bleeding from anus or other body cavity; abnormal mental state
    Possible Causes: Accidental ingestion of poison or poisonous plant, eating toxic food or garbage, improper medication administration
    What to Do: Ingested poisons:
    • Check for breathing and pulse and administer CPR as needed.
    • Check the color of your dog's gums. Certain poisons can cause specific changes in color.
    • Push lightly on the dog's gums and see how fast they turn from pink to white and then pink again. They should turn pink again in 1 to 2 seconds. Less than 1 second or more than 3 is an emergency situation.
    • Check the dog's mental state.
    • Call your veterinarian or the National Animal Poison Control Center 1-800-548-2423.

    Topical poisoning:

    • Call your veterinarian or the National Animal Poison Control Center 1-800-548-2423.
    • Wash your dog repeatedly with soap and water.
    • Flush the eyes with large volumes of tap water or sterile eyewash.
    • If the poison is in powder form, dust or vacuum it off.

    Inhaled poisons (carbon monoxide and other gases):

    • Remove the animal from the area and into fresh air.
    • Check for breathing and pulse and administer CPR as necessary.
    • Check for and treat shock.

    How to induce vomiting:

    Use only one of the two following methods, not both!

    Method 1. Hydrogen Peroxide 3%: Give one teaspoon of Hydrogen Peroxide 3% per 10 pounds of body weight (up to three teaspoons per dose) every 15-20 minutes until the dog vomits. Do not repeat more than three times.

    Method 2. Syrup of Ipecac: Give one teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight, once only. Do not give a second dose (unless directed to by your veterinarian). Be sure to use Syrup of Ipecac, NOT Ipecac Fluid Extract, which is up to 14 times stronger.

    What Not to Do: Do not induce vomiting if your dog is having trouble breathing, is unconscious, is having seizures, if the toxin is an acid or petroleum-based product, if heart rate is slow or the container says not to.
    When to Call the Vet or Transport to a Veterinary Hospital: Transport immediately
    Where to Look for More Information: Poisoning (accidents & emergencies)
    Dangerous Foods & Plants
    FAQ: How can I tell if my dog ate something poisonous?

     

     

    Puncture Wounds
    Symptoms: Bleeding, bruising, skin wound, embedded object in the skin
    Possible Causes: Injury from a pointed object, bite wound
    What to Do: 1. Control any bleeding. Do not remove a puncture device if it is deeply embedded (knife, arrow, etc.). This can cause serious bleeding and further injury. Instead, secure the embedded object in place by placing first aid tape around it and wrapping gauze around the dog until it is secure. You can cut the object to within five inches of the wound. This will help prevent the object from moving around and causing further damage.

     

    2. Check for breathing and pulse and administer CPR as necessary.

    3. Check for and treat for shock.

    What Not to Do: Do not remove deeply embedded objects. This can cause more bleeding and further injury.
    When to Call the Vet or Transport to a Veterinary Hospital: Transport immediately if there is an imbedded object, if the bleeding cannot be stopped, if the dog goes into shock, or if you are unable to clean the wound or if the wound has two holes, which indicates a bite wound.
    Where to Look for More Information: Open Wounds

     

     

    Scratches
    Symptoms: Skin abrasion, redness, bleeding
    Possible Causes: Fighting, rubbing against sharp object
    What to Do: 1. Clean the wound with hydrogen peroxide.

    2. Apply an antibiotic ointment three times a day for 5 to 7 days.

    3. Bandage wound (optional), which may prevent excessive licking.

    When to Call the Vet or Transport to a Veterinary Hospital: Call your veterinarian if the wound was caused by an animal or a rusty object. Transport immediately if there are signs of an infection such as redness, swelling or pus.
    Where to Look for More Information: Wounds
    Wound Infections

     

     

    Shock
    Symptoms: Early stage: Increased heart rate, low body temperature, redder than normal mucous membranes, lowered body temperature

    Middle stage: Hypothermia, weak pulse, depression, cool limbs, pale mucous membranes, increased heart rate.

    End (terminal) stage: Slow respiratory rate, depression or unconsciousness, weak or absent pulse.

    Possible Causes: Sudden blood loss, severe allergic reaction, infection, traumatic injury, heart failure
    What to Do: 1. Check for breathing and pulse and administer CPR as necessary.

    2. Control any bleeding.

    3. Attempt to calm the dog by talking soothingly.

    4. Put the dog in a comfortable position. Elevate the hind end slightly if you are sure the dog's back is not broken.

    5. Splint or immobilize broken limbs before transport.

    6. Cover the dog with a blanket to prevent further loss of body heat.

    When to Call the Vet or Transport to a Veterinary Hospital: Transport immediately.
    Where to Look for More Information: Common Accidents & Emergencies

     

     

    Splinter Removal
    Symptoms: Not placing weight on a limb, swelling where the splinter is located, licking the area
    Possible Causes: Running into a sharp wooden object, injury
    What to Do: 1. Sterilize a pair of tweezers by passing them through a flame or dipping them in alcohol.

    2. Grab the splinter with the tweezers and pull it out.

    3. If the splinter is under the skin, put petroleum jelly on the area for 15 minutes, then pull out the splinter.

    4. Soak affected area in warm water and Epsom salts.

    5. Apply an antibiotic ointment.

    When to Call the Vet or Transport to a Veterinary Hospital: If the wound is too deep or you cannot remove the splinter, call your veterinarian for an office visit.

     

     

    Sprains
    Symptoms: Swelling, limping, pain
    Possible Causes: Tripping or falling, rough play
    What to Do: 1. Alternately apply ice packs or cold compresses and heat to the affected area for 5 to 15 minutes three times a day.

    2. Restrict activity by keeping your dog in a confined area and walking him on a leash as necessary.

    What Not to Do: Do not give your dog aspirin unless told to do so by your veterinarian.
    When to Call the Vet or Transport to a Veterinary Hospital: Call your veterinarian in 24 hours if there is no improvement. X-rays may be necessary to check for a possible fracture or torn ligaments.
    Where to Look for More Information: Leg and Tail Injuries

     

     

    Swallowed Objects
    Symptoms: Sudden abdominal pain, vomiting and/or diarrhea.
    What to Do: Swallowed string:
    1. Attempt to remove the string from the mouth by pulling gently. If there is any resistance, stop immediately and take the dog to the veterinarian.

    Other objects:
    1. Determine if the object is potentially poisonous.
    2. If the object is not sharp or poisonous, see if it passes in 24 hours.
    3. Feed your dog a piece of bread to coat and bind the object.

    What Not to Do: Do not induce vomiting if the object is sharp or has a string/thread attached.
    When to Call the Vet or Transport to a Veterinary Hospital: Transport if the object is not passed in 24 hours or if your dog shows signs of illness or pain.
    Where to Look for More Information: Swallowed Foreign Objects and Intestinal Blockages

     

     

    Tick Removal
    Symptoms: Small, dark-colored, engorged insect with its head burrowed into the animal's skin, red swollen area around the tick
    Possible Causes: Walking through high grass, brushing against leaves, bushes and trees.
    What to Do: 1. Put on latex gloves.

    2. Spray a small amount of tick spray on a piece of gauze, cotton ball or paper towel and hold over the tick for 30 to 60 seconds. You can also use petroleum jelly or mineral oil.

    3. The tick should start to back out. When it does, grab the entire tick with tweezers and remove it.

    4. If the head does not come out (it will look like a small, black dot under the skin), remove it as you would a splinter.

    5. Flush the tick down the toilet, or save it in a safe container to show to your veterinarian.

    6. Apply an antiseptic or antibiotic cream.

    What Not to Do: Do not pull the tick out and leave the head.
    When to Call the Vet or Transport to a Veterinary Hospital: Transport if you cannot remove the head or if your dog displays symptoms of illness.
    Where to Look for More Information: External Parasites
    FAQ: How do I prevent ticks and fleas?

     

     

    Traumatic Injuries (Car Accident)
    Symptoms: Bleeding, loss of consciousness, serious internal and/or external injuries
    What to Do: 1. Try to determine where the dog was hit.

     

    2. Approach the accident scene with extreme caution. If the dog is still lying in traffic, be careful as you approach, and signal to oncoming traffic by waving a cloth. Muzzle the dog or tie his mouth together with gauze or whatever is handy. Carefully move the dog to a safer place (if there is no back injury) by grabbing him by the fur on his back with both hands and gently dragging him to the side of the road. Try to keep him as still as possible to prevent further injury.

    3. If you suspect a back injury, place a shirt or flat object, such as a board, underneath the dog before attempting to move him.

    4. Look for injuries, and be sure to note any blood, urine or feces (the veterinarian may need this information when you get to the hospital).

    5. Check to see if the dog is breathing. If not, begin CPR.

    6. Check for shock and treat if necessary.

    If internal organs are exposed:

    1. Pick up the dog and his exposed organs simultaneously. Place the dog and the organs on a wet towel, and wrap the towel around the dog.

    Chest wounds, open:

    1. Try to calm the dog.
    2. If you hear a gurgling or a sucking sound, place some plastic wrap on top of the wound and wrap it around the dog several times to secure it. This will aid in breathing. If you don't have plastic wrap, use part of a clean garbage bag or another piece of similar plastic and secure it to the dog with tape or gauze.
    When to Call the Vet or Transport to a Veterinary Hospital: Transport immediately.
    Where to Look for More Information: Head Injuries
    CPR
    Shock
    Bleeding

     

     

    Unconsciousness
    Possible Causes: Poisoning, hypoglycemia, injury, illness, heart attack
    What to Do: 1. Pull out the dog's tongue and clear the airway.

    2. Check for breathing and pulse and administer CPR as necessary.

    3. Gently lift the dog and place him gently on a table with his head hanging off the edge.

    4. Control bleeding.

    5. Treat for shock.

    6. Pass some smelling salts under his nose.

    7. Once he regains consciousness rub some Karo syrup on his lips.

    What Not to Do: Do not give the dog anything by mouth until he regains consciousness.
    When to Call the Vet or Transport to a Veterinary Hospital: Transport immediately.
    Where to Look for More Information: Common Accidents & Emergencies

     

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