First Aid – General Advice

Posted by MyDogDoc on

We all hope that we will never have to use first aid on our dogs but knowing what to do and being prepared can save time and could ultimately save their lives!

Circumstances in which you may need to administer first aid range from treating a cut or graze, to life-saving CPR (resuscitation). These articles should help prepare you to deal with a first aid situation if it arises.

Preparation is key!

  • Familiarise yourself with the basics. These articles are aimed at giving you some basic first aid advice on the most common emergency scenarios. There are numerous books and guides on the subject and first aid courses which can teach you the more practical aspects.

  • Have your vet’s phone number in your phone

  • Have a first aid kit ready and waiting to go.

First Aid Kit

This is really useful to have at hand so you can quickly provide first aid for your dog. If you are out and about travelling with your dog, it may be useful to have a similar kit in your car. Once you have provided first aid, take your dog to your vet for a check-up as soon as possible.

Your first aid kit should include:

  • Surgical Gloves

  • Cotton wool

  • Wound disinfectant – either povidone iodine or chlorhexidine (Hibiscrub)

  • Saline flush

  • Antiseptic wipes

  • Sterile absorbent gauze swabs

  • Wound dressings – non-stick pads to absorb and cover open wounds.

  • Open-weave bandages – to provide padding and to keep the dressings in place

  • Self-adhesive bandage (commonly referred to as “Vetwrap” and used on the outside to keep the bandage in place).

  • Bandage Tape (often called micropore or surgical tape)

  • Blunt-ended or curved scissors

  • Tweezers

  • Tick remover

  • Towel

  • Foil blanket

Common emergencies

  • Road traffic accidents

  • Bleeding

  • Broken bones

  • Poisoning

  • Breathing problems

  • Fights and wounds

  • Choking

  • Collapse


  • Heat stroke

  • Hypothermia

  • Burns and scalds

  • Allergic reactions and insect bites

  • Bloating

  • Unable to urinate

  • Electric shock

  • Drowning

  • Coat contamination

Is it an emergency?

Sometimes it can be difficult to decide what is a true emergency. If you are in any doubt or unsure, it is ALWAYS best to ring your vet to check as soon as possible. Far better to get some advice on the phone, than leave symptoms in the hope they will improve with time.

Some questions which may help you assess what is an emergency :

  • Is your dog having difficulty breathing? Is the breathing very rapid or is it noisy?

  • Is your dog unresponsive or becoming less responsive rapidly?

  • Does your dog appear to be in severe pain or discomfort?

  • Is your dog trying to urinate but is not passing any urine?

  • Is your dog’s tummy bloated?

  • Is your dog unable to stand or move?

  • Is your dog bleeding – spurting bright red blood as opposed to oozing

  • Is your dog very weak, dull and depressed?

  • Has your dog been fitting for more than 2 minutes?

  • Does your dog have an obvious major injury? Eg. obvious fracture, burn, large wound etc

  • Has your dog just eaten something poisonous or something which is likely to cause an obstruction?

  • Is your dog retching or gagging repeatedly?

  • Has your dog had repeated vomiting and diarrhoea (more than 3 times within the hour) and is now very lethargic?

  • Is your dog nursing/suckling puppies and is now shaking and shivering?

  • Is your dog giving birth (whelping) and it’s been more than 3 hours since the last puppy was born? Or has she been actively pushing for 30 minutes and no sign of a puppy?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, call your vet immediately.

Accident Bandage Bleeding Burn Dog Dressing Emergancy First Aid First Responder Health Lifestyle Poisoning Scald

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