EMERGENCIES AND FIRST AID
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
- Profound shock from any cause
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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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