Safeguard Your Dog From Open Wounds, Shock, Choking, Poisoning, Cardiac Arrest and Seizures
Being a devoted dog parent means taking on a plethora of responsibilities – from choosing the ideal high-quality dog food to regular vaccinations. But I’ve learned that there’s much more to know in between the feeding and vet visits.
A few years ago, I assisted a vet (my friend) with a Maltese dog named Bella. One day, while in the park, Bella got attacked by an off-leash, free-running Akita. I can only remember the striking red stains on Bella’s white fur when she was brought to my friend, and it wasn’t clear how Bella was attacked. I don’t even remember how Bella got to the ER.
I do remember, however, that all those present when Bella arrived were in shock, including me.
All that mattered at the time was quick thinking was needed by the vet to give first aid relative to her injuries. I must admit I froze and had to be jarred by my friend yelling at me to help retrieve gauze and sterile wipes while she assessed Bella’s injuries.
It was from this experience I learned that knowing how to perform dog first aid can be lifesaving, particularly in the following situations.
Treating Open Wounds In Dogs
Open wounds are very easy to detect.
Although most wounds are not life-threatening, managing them is of urgent importance. The simple but vital first steps you should consider are:
1. Stop the bleeding – place a clean and thick gauze pad over the wound while applying pressure (for at least 3 minutes) until blood clots start forming or until the bleeding stops.
2. Protect the wound – place a non-adhesive bandage over the entire wound to protect it from getting infected.
3. Assess the seriousness of the wound – inspecting to see how large and deep the injury is. If it’s a scrape that will heal on its own, you can decide to treat and care for the dog yourself. If the wound is seriously extensive and deep (as it was in Bella’s situation), be sure to perform steps 1 and 2 above while rushing your pet to the veterinarian.
The Dog Is In Shock
Unlike open wounds, shock can be challenging to detect, so you should first know the signs when a dog is in shock.
The dog may show symptoms of shock if their gums are white or pale, have a rapid and faint heartbeat, fast and short breathing, or have a cold body temperature.
First, you should know, shock can be the result of a dog with a severe injury and, like Bella, a bleeding wound. Wounds can cause the dog’s heart rate to elevate to make up for the blood loss, and conversely, this reaction could lead to blood pooling in the organs of the dog and possibly starving their brain of oxygen.
Shock can be a life-threatening complication and requires quick detection and treatment.
Here’s how to treat your dog for shock:
1. Make your dog lie on its side.
2. Carefully get the dog’s tongue out to keep their airway open.
3. Put a pad or pillow under your dog’s hind end.
4. Dress any open wound (Read about “Treating Open Wounds” – above).
5. Cover your dog with a warm blanket to keep their body temperature up.
6. Seek veterinary attention immediately.
The Dog Is Choking
Choking is a common symptom among puppies because they tend to eat anything they can reach. See this article on my site on 13 Simple Safety Tips To Protect Your Dog At Home, to keep your pup safe within your home.
So, knowing this, you should always be prepared to treat a choking dog by following these steps:
1. Open the dog’s mouth and check for a foreign object that may be blocking the airway.
2. If possible, dislodge the object by sticking your finger in their mouth to remove the object, taking care not to be bitten.
3. If there is no foreign object (or it cannot be removed), lay the dog on its side and pat it’s back with your palms.
4. Keep striking gently until the foreign object is dislodged.
5. Take care to monitor the object does not suffocate the dog. If there is an indication that this is occurring, be sure to rush the dog to the veterinarian.
The Dog Is Poisoned
When toxic ingestion occurs, the first aid includes:
• Seeking emergency advice either from your vet or from Animal Poison Control Services.
• Inducing vomiting should be done as instructed by a consulted professional.
• Rushing your dog to the ER.
When going to the ER, take the packaging of the toxic substance, or the toxic substance itself with you. Now, standby while the ER staff saves your dog, and be prepared to answer any questions the staff might have.
Cardiac Arrest In Dogs
A dog in a cardiac arrest needs the following rescue efforts:
• Clearing the airway – use the steps explained in the choking section.
• Artificial respiration – place your mouth over the dog’s nose and blow in until you see the chest rise.
• Heart massage – press quickly and firmly for 100-120 times a minute.
• Keep giving life support until you arrive in the ER.
It is a popular misconception that dogs having seizures need restraining.
The first aid for seizures includes:
• Preventing further injury to the dog. Avoid the dog hitting their head on the floor or having a nearby object fall on them.
• If possible, measuring the seizure’s length or recording the entire episode.
• Comforting the dog while gently petting and talking to them in a calm and soothing voice.
• Seeking veterinary attention as soon as possible.
Knowing how to perform dog first aid is part of being a responsible dog parent. This article only gives a general idea of how first aid looks. Keep learning to further your dog first aid education.
Bella survived the traumatic ordeal of being attacked, and so did I. This experience was hard to forget. Still, I appreciated the opportunity to work with my veterinarian friend on that day.
This experience taught me to be vigilant of my own dog’s health and care. I’ve made many mistakes, even responding too slowly, thinking the event is not an emergency. It was bad of me, and I’ve learned very quickly to pay very close attention to any change or anomaly that affects my dogs.
I recommend planning ahead and practicing how to restrain and examine your dog and then carry out basic first aid maneuvers. Then, if ever an emergency occurs, you will be well-prepared.
Generally speaking, excellent veterinary care is within easy reach of most dog parents. However, there are occasions when your canine baby depends solely on you.
Credit: YouTube video on Epilepsy Southeast Veterinary Neurology