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First Aid Tips For Dogs

If you have children or pets then first aid should be something that you’re well across. It can mean the difference between life and death in many situations and being armed with First Aid Tips for Dogs can prepare us for any future surprises.

Pet and human first aid aren’t too different in their basic principals but pet owners should understand the differences and how to deal with them or even better, avoid them occurring in the first place!

Cuts & Wounds

Superficial cuts can be flushed with saline and some dilute betadine. Bleeding should be controlled with compression and if necessary a temporary bandage can be placed but  ensure that it’s not too tight so as to cause swelling in extremities.

All cuts should be checked by your veterinarian to ensure that stitches or antibiotics are not required. A proper bandage can be applied by your veterinarian if necessary. Licking of the wound should be prevented.

Dog attack wounds can be fatal, especially if they puncture the chest leading to a loss of negative pressure and inability to inflate the lungs. Bruising and internal injury from dog attacks can be difficult to assess and dogs will often hide the extent of their pain from owners so it’s always best to have any scuffle injuries checked out by your veterinarian.

Insect Bites

Bees, wasps and other garden insects are often the cause of sudden painful swelling in curious pooches. Facial swelling can lead to obstruction of the airways so it’s important to watch your pet for any signs of difficultly in breathing. A prompt injection of anti-histamines and cortisone by your veterinarian will usually settle down any swelling and prevent worsening of symptoms.

Toxic food & other hazards

Rat bait is a very attractive treat to dogs and if ingested will cause anaemia.  Snail bait is highly toxic, with life threatening seizures quickly following ingestion.

Dogs love to beg for food and if they get half a chance, they’ll happily dine on our snacks but not all of these are safe so it’s important to be aware of food that is toxic for dogs. Here are just a few…

  • Grapes and sultanas can cause kidney failure.
  • Chocolate and coffee can vomiting, diarrhoea, panting and in severe cases seizures and heart failure. Macadamia nuts cause vomiting, nausea, incoordination, tremors and depression.
  • The humble onion causes anaemia.
  • Peanut butter and many other candies contain a sugar called xylitol, which can cause sudden life threatening hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar levels).

If you suspect that your dog has eaten any of these items, please have your veterinarian attend to them as quickly as possible. A simple injection will be administered to induce vomiting if the item is still in the stomach and your vet will be able to assess if any symptoms are presenting themselves.

If you are unable to get to vet clinic quickly then a small amount of salt made into a paste and dosed like a tablet should induce vomiting but always follow this up with a veterinary examination. In the case of rat bait, your dog may require anaesthetising to pump out the contents of their stomach and control seizures.

Before going on any road trip or holiday with your pet, make sure you have a First Aid Kit in  your car or caravan that is suitable for both yourselves and your pet. Ideally order a dog or cat pet specific First Aid Kit, or add any of the missing items below to your own.

  • A pet-specific first aid booklet
  • Pet-specific bandages
  • Iodine based antiseptic
  • Disposable gloves
  • Tweezers
  • Tick remover
  • Pet sunscreen
  • Hydrogen peroxide to clean wound
  • Salt paste to induce vomiting
  • Vet approved pain relief
  • Sterile eye wash
  • Skin and paw balm
  • A muzzle (should you find an injured dog, or your dog is reacting aggressively due to pain)
  • Towel or blanket that can be used to carry them in
  • Any medications your dog may be taking

About the Author: Dr Melissa Meehan BVSc (Hons), MANZCVS (Int Med)
Dr Melissa Meehan is a highly experienced and respected veterinary surgeon with over 14 years experience. Dr Melissa obtained her Members in Small Animal Medicine through examination in 2008 and now runs her own veterinary ophthalmology service

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