Dog first aid

Knowing dog first aid is essential for every dog owner, trainer, or fosterer. While you should always consult your vet with any health concerns or after an accident, having a basic understanding of first aid can make a crucial difference in an emergency by providing comfort and support to your dog until they can get proper medical attention.

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What should be included in your dog's first aid kit? 

A well-prepared dog first aid kit can make a huge difference in emergencies or when treating minor injuries. Some essential items to include are: 

  • Sterile gauze pads for wound dressing 
  • Disposable gloves
  • Adhesive tape to secure gauze
  • A clean towel
  • Curved scissors and tweezers for safe handling 
  • Tick removal tool for correctly removing ticks 
  • Cold pack for reducing swelling and pain 
  • Saline solution for eye injuries and rinsing wounds 
  • Emergency contact information for your vet and local emergency vet 
  • Muzzle in case your dog bites out of pain or fear 
  • Any medication specific to your dog’s needs as prescribed by your dog’s vet

You should never give your dog medication meant for humans, as common drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen are highly dangerous for dogs. Always speak to your vet rather than administering medication yourself.

Recognising when your dog is unwell or injured

Understanding what’s normal behaviour for your dog means you’ll recognise any changes in behaviour or body language that might indicate they’re unwell or in pain. Dogs have individual personalities. Being familiar with their usual habits and behaviour helps you spot changes that might signal something isn't right. If you notice any significant changes in your dog's usual behaviour, you should act promptly and contact your vet. Catching any health problems early can make a real difference to their wellbeing and recovery.

Common illnesses or injuries

Being aware of any changes in your dog's health is a crucial part of responsible dog ownership. Dogs, like us, can face a range of common health issues that might affect their wellbeing. By recognising the signs and symptoms of these illnesses or injuries, you can make sure your dog keeps fit and well and gets the correct care and attention should something be amiss.

Steps to take in an emergency

In a medical emergency, promptly taking the following steps can significantly improve your dog's chances of a full and speedy recovery:

  1. Stay calm: In any emergency, it's crucial to stay as calm as possible. Staying composed will help you think clearly, act effectively, and reassure your dog. 
  2. Call for help: If possible, call for help immediately. Contact your vet to inform them of the situation and that you're on your way. If needed, have someone else call for help while you focus on your dog.
  3. Provide basic first aid: Carefully administer first aid as needed. This may include reassuring your dog, applying pressure to wounds, or dealing with choking hazards.
  4. Handle your dog with care: Be gentle and cautious while handling your dog, especially if they’re in pain. Avoid sudden movements that might hurt or make them uncomfortable.
  5. Transport safely: If your dog needs immediate medical attention, transport them carefully. If possible, have someone else drive while you keep your dog stable and comfortable.
  6. Follow-up with the vet: After receiving emergency care, always follow up with your vet. They can thoroughly check your dog and recommend further treatment or monitoring.

Remember - dog CPR should only be attempted by those trained to do it. If you're not qualified and your dog needs CPR, contact your vet or emergency vet immediately, as professional help is essential.

Who to contact if your dog is unwell or has an accident 

Being trained to provide first aid is a valuable skill but should not replace professional veterinary care. Your vet is the best person to assess your dog's health and provide appropriate treatment. You should always have your vet's phone number and local 24-hour emergency clinic contact information for emergencies.

For guide dog owners, your Dog Health and Wellbeing Specialist, via Guide Line, can provide advice and guidance on the best course of action in non-urgent cases.