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What kinds of emergencies might occur?

There are many possible emergencies from automobile injury to acute internal problems such as an intestinal blockage or serious internal hemorrhage, but the following are examples of situations requiring prompt action:-

  • Anaphylaxis (severe allergic reactions)
  • Any severe difficulty in breathing.
  • Bites and fight wounds
  • Bloat (gastric dilation)
  • Burns and scalds
  • Cardiac failure
  • Coma and loss of consciousness
  • Continuous vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Eclampsia (milk fever)
  • Haemorrhagic gastroenteritis (watery, bloody diarrhea)
  • Heat stroke
  • Massive hemorrhage
  • Massive injuries to the body
  • Penetrating wounds of the thorax (chest) or abdomen
  • Poisoning
  • Profound shock from any cause
  • Seizures

What can I do while getting veterinary help?

1. Keep calm.

2. Contact your veterinary surgeon, appraise the practice of the situation and get first aid advice.

3. Keep your dog warm, as quiet as possible, and keep movement to a minimum if there is possible injury, e.g. broken limbs, back, etc.

4. For specific aid refer to the following table.

5. Transport your dog to the vet as soon as possible but drive carefully and observe speed limits.

6. If the dog is small enough, try to transport in a suitable container such as a strong cardboard box. If it is a large dog try to obtain a blanket or thick towel on which he can be rolled and then lifted by one or more people assisting. Improvised stretchers using boards, doors etc. should be used with care - the recumbent patient can sometimes 'come to' and jump off and sustain further injuries.

Emergency Situation


Road Traffic Accident

Make sure your dog has a clear airway, but do not put your hand in the mouth if the animal is conscious. Cover wounds with the cleanest material available. Handle your dog with care, supporting the body as much as possible. Transport in a basket, box, or cage to the veterinary practice if a small dog otherwise roll on to a blanket so that two or more people can carry the dog without risk of further injury.

Bleeding (hemorrhage)

If hemorrhage is severe on a limb, apply a tourniquet above the wound just tight enough to significantly reduce flow of blood; it has to be loosened within a maximum of 20 minutes. Apply a pad of cotton or wool over a gauze dressing to the wound or bleeding point and bandage it firmly and/or simply apply direct pressure. Cut feet which are bleeding badly should be tightly bandaged. A polythene bag bandaged on to the limb will contain the blood.

Burns and Scalds

Cool the burned area with cold water if possible. If the burned area is extensive cover with cold damp towels. If the burn is due to caustic substances (acid or alkalis) be especially liberal with the water to wash these away. If loss of skin occurs, cover the area with the cleanest material available.

Eclampsia (milk fever)

Milk Fever is usually seen in nursing bitches 3-5 weeks after whelping but can occur rarely before whelping.

Signs include excessive panting wild eyes muscle spasms and weakness and ultimately seizures.

Remove your bitch from her puppies to prevent further nursing. Call your veterinary surgeon immediately. This condition is easily treated, but it can be fatal if treatment is not prompt.

Haemorrhagic gastroenteritis

The first signs of this condition is usually copious diarrhea with blood. Your dog may also vomit and sometimes this too contains blood. Seek veterinary attention without delay. This is a serious condition which is potentially life threatening.

Heat stroke

This is a frequent result of dogs being left in cars in the sun with too little ventilation. It can also happen unexpectedly with dogs at any time in warm humid weather. The signs are sudden excessive panting and obvious distress. Unconsciousness can quickly follow. Place your dog in a tub of cold water to try to reduce the body temperature as quickly as possible. Then contact your vet and take the dog in as quickly as possible, still wet, and wrapped in a wet towel.

Bites, fight wounds

Clean with cold water. Control hemorrhage as far as is possible (see bleeding above).


Induce vomiting with 5 ml (1 teaspoon) of hydrogen peroxide orally or a teaspoon of salt placed in the mouth. Keep a sample of the vomit for testing. DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING if your dog has ingested corrosive material such as strong acid, alkali, or petroleum-based products. If corrosive or toxic material is on the skin, wash it profusely. Bring a sample of the suspected poison together with the container to the veterinary practice.


Prevent your dog from further self injury. Do not put your hand into your pets mouth. Keep the dog as quiet as possible and try to prevent any falls. Keep in the dark if possible. This will speed recovery.

Eye injury

If the eyeball is penetrated it will be very painful. Prevent your dog from scratching at the eye and doing further damage. If the eyeball is out of its socket try to keep it moist with saline solution (e.g. contact lens solution) and protect it from direct injury. Try to cover the injured eye if at all possible. Seek veterinary help immediately.


Shock can be due to many causes. Keep your dog warm and quiet. Seek immediate veterinary help.

What is shock?

Shock has many definitions. It is a complex body reaction to a number of situations resulting in a fall in blood pressure. These include acute loss of blood volume such as hemorrhage, heart failure and other causes of decreased circulation (e.g. severe and sudden allergic reaction and heat stroke). If not treated quickly and effectively shock may cause irreversible injury to body cells, and it can be rapidly fatal.

How do I recognize shock?

Signs include rapid breathing which may be noisy, rapid heart rate with a weak pulse, pale (possibly even white) mucous membranes (for instance gums, lips, under eyelids) and severe depression (listlessness) with cool extremities (limbs and ears). The dog may vomit.

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