Dog First Aid
The dog first aid principles that the dog owner should master are relatively few and simple in practice, but are essential skills in the case of an emergency and could save the life of your pet. Recovery time after an injury, complete healing as opposed to permanent disability or scarring, or even survival of the injured dog at all, can often depend on the treatment received immediately after being hurt.
Shock – Any serious injury—burns, fractures, deep lacerations, even dog fights—can induce shock in a dog. The most common symptom of shock in a dog is a semi-oblivious yet anxious state. The nervous system becomes depressed, sometimes severe enough to cause complete immobility. Sometimes, though in relatively few cases, the dog may display a quite opposite affect of nervous excitement. In all cases, a dog in shock will have a slow weak pulse, and shallow respiration. Dogs recovering from shock will often develop a rapid pulse and high body temperature.
The treatment for shock in dogs is to cover the animal to bring the temperature up to normal. Give the dog a stimulant, such as coffee, to raise the heart rate, and keep the animal calm so that it rests. Gentle petting will generally instill a relaxed state. Recovery generally occurs in one or two hours.
Heat Stroke – Dogs are the most susceptible of all pets to heat stroke. Bulldogs and obese dogs are the most common victims. Dogs with thick coats should be clipped in the summer to protect them against the heat.
Panting is a normal method for dogs to reduce body temperature, however sharp and continuous panting can indicate heat stroke. The tongue can turn purple and the dog will seem unable to catch its breath.
When your dog is displaying symptoms of heat stroke, you must lower the body temperature of the animal. The way the body cools itself is by evaporating water. Lay the dog on a flat surface and pour water over him until his coat is completely soaked. Place an electric fan near the dog, and direct the air straight at him. As the water evaporates, add more. Take the dog’s temperature occasionally until it lowers to 101 degrees Fahrenheit, which is normal. This method should result in a 5-7 degree drop in temperature in about 30 minutes. When the dog’s temperature returns to normal, dry him off and keep him out of the heat.
If an electric fan is not available, immerse the dog in a tub of cold water.
Hit by a Car – When a dog is struck by a vehicle, you should restrain him and begin treating for shock. Check the gums to see if he is losing blood too quickly. If the gums have a gray or white appearance, the dog likely has injured an organ and is bleeding internally. If this is the case, then stretch the dog out and have someone assist you by holding the front and hind legs. Wrap long strips of bandage torn from a bed sheet or similar material around his torso tightly in a girdle or corset-like fashion. Continue to wrap until you have created a good firm support. Be sure the bandaging lies flat against the dog’s body and doesn’t bunch up when he moves. The bandages must create a long cylinder which holds the internal organs still. Keeping the organs immobile will assist in allowing a blood clot to form and slow or stop the internal bleeding. Do everything you are able to keep the animal still until a veterinarian arrives. Do not move the dog from the accident scene if there are signs of internal bleeding. A dog can bleed to death very quickly.
Knowing how to administer dog first aid before you find yourself in a situation where you need it can save the life of your pet. Preventing situations that may cause your dog to be injured is even better.