|The following section deals with first aid in emergency
and non-emergency situations -you should always try to distinguish between
the two. Try to keep calm so you can assess whether you need the vet right
away, or whether your first aid treatment is adequate for the time being
and you can see the vet in the morning -or even not at all. If you can,
practice as many of the first aid procedures as possible so you are familiar
with them should you ever need to use them for real.
As far as possible, start first aid treatment while on
your way to the vet. For example, if you are trying to control bleeding,
start at once but meanwhile get the dog into the car and get someone to
drive you to the vet. Continue the treatment while you are travelling there.
If there is no possible way you can get to the vet quickly and safely,
get someone to phone for him whilst you carry on with the first aid treatment.
If bleeding doesn't stop within 5 minutes, you must try to
staunch the flow using the following procedure:
With a clean cloth, or even your hand, apply direct pressure
to the wound. If blood seeps through, apply more ban-dage or a cotton wool
pad on top of old -don't try to remove old bandage.
If such pressure won't stop the bleed-ing, find the nearest
pressure point and compress the artery against its underlying bone. Use
the flat part of your fingers - not your thumb or finger tips.
As a last resort you can try a tourni-quet, although this
carries the greater risk of stopping circulation to the affected part and
causing gangrene. Use it only to save life when nothing else is working
and release intermit-tently.
Many things may cause a dog to have difficulty in breathing
- perhaps obstruction of the air passage to the lungs by a foreign body
or the dog's own tongue if he is unconscious, strangu-lation by his collar,
electrocution, drowning, heart attack or chest injuries. If the dog is
breathing with difficulty, clear airway and, if necessary, start artificial
respiration immedi-ately. If you cannot see breathing movement place your
ear on the dog's chest and listen for a heartbeat or take his pulse. If
the heart has stopped within the last minute or so but you think the dog
is not yet dead, apply heart massage and artificial respiration together.
Never attempt the kiss of life if you have reason to believe that poison
Open dog's mouth, grasp tongue and pull it well forward clear
of back of throat. Wipe away any mucus or blood. Remove any obstruction.
Remove any collar or restricting item.
If the animal has fluid in its throat or is a victim of drowning
hold it upside down by its rear legs for 15-30 seconds.
If dog is still not breathing, start artificial respiration.
Close mouth, place your mouth over his nose and exhale to force air through
his nose to the lungs. Watch the dog's chest for the lungs to inflate.
Remove your mouth, and repeat the cycle about six times a minute. You may
need to carry on for 30-60 minutes, until the dog is breathing by itself
or is pronounced dead.
If you cannot hear the dog's heartbeat, strike his chest
sharply with your fist once or twice in the region just below his left
shoulder. If heart is still not going, apply heart massage. Place the dog
on its right side on a firm surface. Put the fingers of one hand on each
side of the chest over heart area and compress it firmly but not too hard.
Then release the pressure. Repeat 70 times a minute.
Animals are afraid of fire so burns from a naked flame
are not too common, although a dog dozing by the fire can get singed or
burnt. He can burn his feet though, by walking on a hot surface, and scalds
are also quite common. Puppies, especially, might chew on an electric lead
which will cause a special type of burn and this will often be accompanied
by electric shock.
Do not apply butter, grease or any ointment.
Soak cloth in cold water and hold to burned place.
Send for the vet if the burn seems serious. A superficial
burn is painful, reddens the skin and singes the hair, but the latter will
not pull out easily. A serious burn is actually less painful because the
nerves have been des-troyed. The skin may be white, black or brown, and
the hair will either be gone completely or will pull out easily.
Keep the burn covered with a wet dressing covered with thick
dry towels. Make the dog stay lying down, restrained in warm blankets.
Give fluid as for dehydration, unless the dog is vomiting.
Treat for shock.
Wash burned area with lots of plain water, especially if
If acid, rinse with solution of 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of
soda to 1 litre of water. If alkali, use plain water only.
Apply soothing ointment; eg olive oil.
You should, of course muzzle and restrain the dog before
In this situation apply common sense first aid whilst getting
to the vet as quickly as possible.
Check pulse, pupils, breathing and temperature. Apply artificial
respiration and/or heart massage as outlined on previous pages.
Always handle your dog as if he may have a broken bone or
other serious internal injury.
Treat for shock.
There are basically two kinds of convulsion - -the single
convulsion which lasts for a minute or two and doesn't recur for at least
24 hours or repeated or continuous convulsions which are serious emergencies
and need veterinary attention immediately.
In the latter situation, you should gently restrain the
dog so he can't injure himself by placing a towel over him. Don't put your
hand on the dog or in or near his mouth as you may get bitten and will
require treatment yourself. Once you've restrained the dog, get to the
vet immediately. Single convulsions also require veterinary attention but
are usually not so serious. Again restrain the animal and get to the vet
as soon as possible.
INJURIES TO THE EYEBALL
If there is bleeding in the area of the eyes, apply direct
pressure with dry gauze pads and go to vet. Laceration of the eyeball itself
or penetration by a foreign object is very serious. Place a damp cloth
over the place and get to the vet at once. Don't try to wash the eye or
remove a foreign body or you'll undoubtedly do more harm than good. A simple
bruise can usually be dealt with by a cold compress.
'Shock' is a term used loosely and often very incorrectly.
In both human and animal terms, it is much more serious than the slight
feeling of malaise that might occur after a minor accident or fright which
is often called 'shock'. The signs of true shock in dogs are: weakness,
collapse, coma, unconsciousness, pale colour of mouth, lips and eyelids,
coolness of skin and legs, rapid but weak pulse (may be over 140 per minute),
rapid respiration (over 40 a minute), staring eyes and dilated pupils.
If any or all of these signs occur after an accident or pro-longed illness,
treat for shock as below and call the vet immediately.
lf you absolutely can't get immediate veteri-nary help -
either at all or for a few hours- give fluids orally. If the dog is conscious
administer an amount (depending on dog's size) of tepid water mixed with
glucose every 30 minutes for 4 or 5 doses. Don't give anything by mouth
if the dog is unconscious, convulsing or vomiting. Take pulse and breathing
rate every 30 minutes and record them. Note any blood in urine etc, and
report these details to the vet.
Keep airways open, giving artificial respiration or heart
massage as necessary, bandage or splint any fracture or extensive wound.
Wrap the dog in a thick cloth or towel to conserve body heat.
If the dog is unconscious, keep his head as low as, or lower than, the
rest of the body. Gently massage legs and muscles to maintain circulation
unless you suspect that they may be fractured or broken. If he is conscious
and restless, keep him horizontal and well wrapped up.
Get to the vet's surgery promptly. Time is vital, especially
for the intravenous introduction of fluid in severe cases.
HEATSTROKE (heat exhaustion)
This often occurs if the dog is kept shut up in a house
or car without shade, ventilation or water. It can also happen as a result
of the dog getting overexcited or being under stress; ie at dog shows.
Signs are panting, slobbering, vomiting and diarrhoea, raised temperature
and ultimately collapse and coma.
Remove dog from hot spot into cool or shady area.
Soak dog with cold water from a hose or immerse him in
a ice bath and gently massage his legs and body until you reach the vet
or the animal's temperature returns to normal.
Gently dry dog with towel. If he is conscious, give him
small amounts of water. Give artificial respiration if necessary.