11 First Aid Tips for Dogs
If your dog has an accident or is injured, knowing what to do in this stressful situation can prove vital to their life, which is why being familiar with basic first aid for animals is so important. It can be scary to see your dog distressed, but as they can only turn to you for help, acting quickly and calmly can mean the difference between life and death.
Keep your dog safe with first aid for animals
By familiarizing yourself with basic first aid, we hope you’ll feel more confident in knowing what to do if your dog is ever injured, especially before you’re able to get professional help from a vet. To help put your mind at ease, we’ve listed our 11 first aid tips for dogs, including what to do if a dog is choking and how to treat burns.
1. Keep calm
When it comes to first aid for animals, one of the most important things you can do is to remain calm. Dogs are able to pick up on distress and this can make them feel anxious and act unpredictably. Talk to your dog in a calm, soothing voice and try to avoid confrontational body language.
2. Have a pet first aid kit to hand
Having a first aid kit is a great way to support first aid for animals and is a must-have in every dog owner’s inventory. Packed with essential items to help care for minor injuries, they’re perfect for helping your dog if they’re injured but don’t need veterinary attention straight away.
Time is of the essence, so having all your dog’s supplies together means you can act fast.
Having a travel-size first aid kit is handy to keep at home, in your car, or even in your dog tote bag, ready for days out with your pup.
Remember to include your vet’s number and address in your first aid kit, as well as paper and a pen in case you need to write down urgent instructions.
3. Broken bones & potential fractures
For these serious injuries (and any major trauma), a trip to the vet is essential. However, there are a few things you can do to prevent further injury.
If you suspect your dog has broken a bone, don’t try to reset it, and avoid applying ointments to any open wounds. Instead:
• Use a clean gauze or bandage to cover open fractures
• If bleeding – apply gentle pressure with a clean cloth
• Support broken limbs
• Keep your dog warm
While it can be tempting to offer human medicines to your dog, please avoid this as dosages can vary and they may even do more harm than good.
Discover how to dress your dog in a bandage in our blog post here, we also cover what to do if dog is choking with a CPR demonstration.
4. Bleeding & Wounds
If your dog is bleeding or wounded, they’ll need to be treated professionally, especially if the wound is large or contaminated.
However, there’s a few things you can do in the meantime:
If you have access to first aid materials:
Wash your dog’s wound with clean running water
Place a non-adhesive dressing on the wound
Cover with a cotton bandage
Wrap with a layer of conforming bandage, this should have a lot of stretch and keep the dressing in place
The final layer should be taped with adhesive backing
Contact your vet for further assistance
If you don’t have access to first aid materials:
Wash the wound with clean running water
Apply pressure to the wound with a clean cloth (this could be a t-shirt, towel or flannel) and keep the pressure for at least five minutes
Wrap with additional layers of clean cloth if there is a lot of blood
Contact your vet for further assistance
Administrating first aid for animals that have been burnt is much the same as dealing with human burns. Run the burnt area under cold water for as long as possible, ideally for a minimum of five minutes.
In the meantime, phone your vet for further advice - they may suggest applying a saline-soaked dressing to the burn until you’re able to get to the vet. Avoid applying ointments or creams to the burns.
6. Stings and Allergies
A common sign that your dog is having an allergic reaction or has been stung by an insect will be that they develop swelling (most likely on the face), and if the reaction is severe, they may even have trouble breathing.
If you think your dog is having a mild allergic reaction, phone your vet for advice.
However, if the reaction is more severe and your pup is having trouble breathing or their face and throat are swelling up quickly, it’s important that you go to the vet straight away.
For bee and wasp stings:
If your dog has been stung in the throat or mouth, contact your vet as the swell may affect your pup’s breathing, otherwise:
Gently pull out the sting by pressing below the poison sac
Bathe the area in water
For a bee string, apply a solution of bicarbonate of soda
For a wasp string, apply a solution of diluted vinegar
Soothe the area with ice
7. What to do if your dog is choking
It goes without saying that seeing your dog struggling for breath can fill you with panic and dread but do try to stay calm – any added stress is likely to make their breathing worse.
If your pup is having issues breathing, they’re likely to have these symptoms:
White, blue or grey gums
Are stretched out to help breathe
Then, check for choking. Does your pup have anything stuck in their mouth that you can remove? It’s worth noting that animals are very effective at clearing their airways and if they’re able to cough then it’s possible they’ll cough up whatever is causing them trouble.
However, if your dog has stopped breathing, then they’ll need CPR. Make sure to see our blog post on how to perform chest compressions and CPR on your dog to familiarize yourself with this. It’s also important to take your pup to the vet immediately if they’re unable to breathe, have collapsed or their breathing is rapidly getting worse. If possible, phone your vet beforehand so they can expect your arrival.
There are a few common symptoms that your dog may have heatstroke, including trouble breathing, panting and collapse.
To help cool your canine, wet their ears and fur with tepid water and avoid using really cold water as this can cause shock. You can also use a fan or air conditioning to help lower the temperature around them.
Similarly, offer them cool but not freezing water to drink from their dog bowl. This will help keep them cool before they’re seen by a vet.
Ever wonder when it’s too hot for walkies? See our post on safe dog walking temperatures and measures you can take to keep them safe.
Dogs are naturally inquisitive animals, so they’re likely to want to nibble on things they probably shouldn’t! In a lot of cases, this won’t cause them harm, however, there are a lot of tasty things we eat that are toxic to dogs.
Some common things include chocolate, garlic and caffeine, but for a more extensive list, see our post on what foods are toxic to dogs.
The first thing to do is identify what your pup has eaten or had in their mouth and keep any packaging or evidence so you can inform your vet.
If your pup is sick, has obvious stomach pain, diarrhoea or constipation or loss of appetite, you should contact your vet. And unless advised, don’t try to make your dog sick as this could potentially do more damage.
10. Eye Injuries
If there’s been any trauma or if your dog has a closed or discharging eye, contact your vet straight away. If you know that chemicals have entered your dog’s eye, flush it out with water repeatedly and call your vet.
11. Road Accident
Knowing first aid for animals is great for the basics, but if your dog has been involved in a road accident, they should be taken to the vet immediately. Even if they appear to be unhurt, they could have internal injuries that need attention.
Make sure you’re both safe and try to remain calm to avoid further stress to your dog. If possible, pick up your dog and support their head, neck and back by placing one arm under their head and shoulders and the other under their pelvis.
Keep your dog warm with a dog blanket and take them to your vet ASAP.
The most important first aid tips for dogs
After being involved in an accident or emergency it’s important to remain calm and to take your dog to your vet for an examination. Even if your dog appears happy and well, your vet will give professional advice and rule out further injuries.
Treat your pup to something pawsome
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our first aid tips for dogs. If you’re looking to spoil your pooch, why not treat them to some personalized dog gifts from Yappy!
At Yappy, we also have a wonderful range of stylish walking bags so you can take all of your essentials with you on walkies.