First Aid A-Z: Part 2

Posted by MyDogDoc on

Common conditions requiring first aid: C - H


This can be a true blue-light emergency. The most common choking hazards are small toys, raw hide chews and balls.

How will I know if my dog is choking?

There are a few signs to look out for:

  • Coughing and retching but nothing being produced.

  • Making choking sounds

  • Pawing at their mouth

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Gums, lips and tongue turning blue

What to do if your dog is choking

  • Phone your vet immediately. They may be able to talk you through it over the phone or advise you to go straight down to the practice.

  • If your dog’s gums, lips and tongue start going blue, you may need to try and remove the object yourself. It helps if you have someone there who can help you.

  • Get one person to open your dog’s mouth and hold it open.

  • If you can see the object, and your dog is conscious – try and remove the object using large tweezers.

  • If you can see the object, and your dog has lost consciousness, it might be easier, and quicker, to reach in with your hand - but do take care not to push the object further back, damage the back of your dog’s throat, or get bitten!”If you cannot remove the object, lay your dog on its side. Push down quickly on their tummy, just behind their ribs or slap your dog’s chest 3-4 times. The aim is to push the air out of their lungs and push the object out.

  • Take your dog to the nearest vet if you cannot dislodge the object with 1 or 2 minutes - it’s worth taking them anyway to get them checked over, as they may have bruising or swelling in their throat, or damage to the chest if you need to use the Heimlich manouvre

Coat contamination

When a substance such as tar, oil, petrol, cement or paint gets stuck on your dog’s coat it is important to try and remove it as many substances can be harmful and poisonous for your dog.

Try and remove the coat contamination by clipping away parts of the fur that the substance is attached to, flushing or bathing in warm water or if the substance is particularly hard to shift, you can try bathing them using some washing-up liquid like a shampoo.

Always contact your vet for advice as many substances are very harmful to dogs and in some cases, it is safer for the vet to remove them.

It is very important to stop your dog from grooming the contaminated area. A dog will have a strong instinct to do this. An Elizabethan collar (cone) if you have one, is very useful.


There could be a number of causes for this. They include heart disease, low blood sugar level, weakness after severe vomiting and diarrhoea, severe allergic reaction, spinal disease, Addisons, pain, osteoarthritis and muscle weakness, seizures, breathing difficulties and blood loss.

Contact your vet immediately if your dog has suddenly collapsed and is unable to get up.

Other signs to look out for include:

  • Blue or pale gums, lips and tongue

  • Not breathing or struggling to breathe/wheezing

  • Not responding to you

  • A bloated, very round tummy

  • Indications that your dog is in pain, eg. panting or whining.

  • Fixed or glazed stare

  • Unable to move

If you note any of these signs, tell your vet as this can give an indication of what could be causing the collapse and they will be better able to advise on what to do next.


So many dogs love water. Knowing what to do if playing in the water turns into an emergency is essential.

Remember never to put yourself at risk when rescuing a dog from water.

Once the dog has been rescued from the water, wipe away any water/discharge or material from their nose and mouth.

Try and hold your dog with their nose to the ground, bottom to the sky, to allow all the water in the airways to drain out.

Check for a heartbeat and breathing. If none present, start administering CPR.

Call and/ or take your dog to the nearest vet immediately, even if they make a full recovery, as complications can develop after the event.

Electric Shock

We most commonly see this as a result of puppies chewing electric cables. Even if your dog does not look as if it has suffered any ill effects after the incident, it is always best to get it checked out by your vet as it could have internal injuries which can take a while to show up.

Firstly, if your dog is still being electrocuted, do not touch them (as you will get electrocuted yourself!) but turn off the electricity at the power source. Do not throw water over your dog.

If you are unable to do that, try to separate your dog from the electricity source by pushing it away with a non-conductible product such as a broom handle. DO NOT use anything metal to move your dog.

Once away from the power source, check your dog is breathing and it’s heart is beating. If not, follow the CPR guide and call a vet immediately.

Heat Stroke

This is a very common problem and can set in very quickly. Dogs can deteriorate from this very rapidly so it’s important you know the signs to watch out for and what to do when you see them. (see “Heat Stroke: Keep calm and cool them down” article for more in-depth information).

It is surprising how easily dogs can overheat. It does not have to be the sunniest of days, sometimes overcast, very close days with little air can be all it takes for some dogs. Too much exercise or over exertion during this weather will not help either. Be extra vigilant with short nosed (brachycephalic) breeds as they are more likely to develop heat stroke.

What are the signs?

  • Panting heavily

  • Collapse or fainting

  • Trouble breathing

  • Very hot to the touch

First Aid treatment at home

Dogs suffering from heat stroke are more likely to survive if cooled down immediately before taking them to the vets. If you suspect your dog has heat stroke, call your vet immediately for advice and to warn them you will be taking your dog in.

  • Use a shower or hosepipe to soak your dog’s body with cool water. (AVOID ICE COLD WATER as this can make things worse).

  • Try to soak your dog down to its skin. Sometimes in thick coated dogs, the water will just run off it’s coat.

  • Concentrate particularly on the coat free areas of skin such as their belly, groin (between their back legs) and armpits.

  • You can also dip their paws in water to help with the cooling process.

  • You may need to repeat the hosing down with water more than once as the water dries or evaporates

  • Move the dog to a shady, cool area and if available, direct a fan over them.

  • Offer small sips of cool water (but only if your dog is conscious). Do not force to drink if they do not want to

  • When transporting to the vets, cool the car first by having the air conditioning on or windows wide open.


This is when the body temperature becomes dangerously low. The dog can lose the ability to warm themself up. If left untreated, the body can go into shut down.

Cases where hypothermia may occur:

  • If your dog has been out in the cold overnight, without any shelter or protection from the weather.

  • If your dog falls into a freezing cold water

  • Very old or young pets are more at risk of developing hypothermia as they do not have the reserves that adult dogs have.

Signs of hypothermia include:

  • Shivering (once your dog’s body temperature drops below a certain level, they will stop shivering so you may not always see this sign).

  • Very pale gums

  • Sleepy and flat

  • Coma (unresponsive)

Call your vet immediately if you suspect that your dog has hypothermia.

There are a few first aid things you can do while speaking to your vet:

  • Try and warm your dog up slowly. Warming too rapidly or overheating can lead to other problems.

  • Get your dog in from the cold into somewhere warm but not too hot as this can shock them

  • If your dog is wet, dry with a towel.

  • Cover in thick blankets. If you have a foil blanket in your first aid kit, use this.

  • If conscious, you could offer a warm (not hot) drink of water.

  • Take your dog to the vet. Warm the car up ready beforehand.

Choking Coat contamination Collapse Dog Drowning Electric shock Emergency First Aid Health Heat stroke Hypothermia Senior

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