First Aid for Fido

If your dog wasn’t breathing, would you know what to do? None of us like to think about our beloved pets needing first aid, but accidents happen. Knowing how to help your dog in an emergency could mean saving his life. Here, some common accidents and what to do if they happen to your pup.

Symptoms may include: breathing difficulty, choking sounds, blue color to lips and gums, pawing at the mouth.

• Keep your dog calm and take him to the vet immediately if he’s able to breathe.
• Look into your dog’s mouth. If the object is visible, gently try to remove it with tweezers or pliers. If it’s not easy to remove, proceed to the vet immediately.
• If your dog collapses, put him on his side and hit his rib cage with the palm of your hand to see if you can dislodge the object. Keep repeating until you get to the vet’s office.

Symptoms may include: sudden onset of lameness, swelling or pain when touched, bone sticking through the skin.

• Muzzle your dog; if he’s in pain he may bite.
• Gently lay him on a firm surface for support.
• Transport your dog to the vet using a board or blanket as a sling.

Bleeding (External)
Symptoms may include: bleeding from a skin wound.

• Muzzle your dog; if he’s in pain he may bite.
• Press a clean gauze pad over the wound and apply pressure for 3 minutes. This will help the blood clot and lessen the bleeding.
• For severe bleeding on the legs, apply a tourniquet made from gauze or an elastic band. Bandage the wound and apply pressure. Take your dog to the vet immediately.

Bleeding (Internal)
Symptoms may include: bleeding from the nose, mouth or rectum; coughing up blood; blood in urine; pale gums; weak and rapid pulse.

• Keep your dog quiet and warm and take him to the vet right away.

Symptoms may include: seizures, loss of consciousness, difficulty breathing.

• Collect any material your dog may have vomited or chewed and proceed to the vet.
• If you dog is exposed to harmful external toxins such as cleaning products, read the caution label on product and follow the instructions. For instance, if the label says to wash your hands with soap and water, wash your dog’s skin with soap and water.

Resuscitating Your Dog

If your pup stops breathing or has no heartbeat, you can use techniques such as rescue breathing and chest compressions. Start the resuscitation at home and continue until you get to an emergency clinic and professionals can take over.

Rescue Breathing

• Stay calm and have another person call the vet so you can stay with your dog.
• Check to see if  your dog is unconscious.
• Open your dog’s mouth and pull his tongue out flat. Check to see if any object is blocking his airway.
• Close your dog’s mouth and keep it closed with your hand. Begin rescue breathing by blowing into your dog’s NOSE until you see his chest rise. Continue the rescue breathing every 5 seconds.

Chest Compression

• Lay your dog on his right side on a stable surface. Locate his heart–it is in the lower half of the chest, on the left, just behind the elbow of the left front leg.
• Place one hand under your dog’s chest and one on his heart.
• Press down on your dog’s heart 1 inch for a medium-sized dog. Press harder for a larger dog.
• Don’t perform rescue breathing and chest compressions at exactly the same time. Alternate the techniques.

Dog First Aid Kit

Having a first aid kit for your dog helps you in emergencies. In a small plastic tool box or tackle box, keep a piece of paper with your name, address and phone numbers; your vet’s name and number, and any special information about your dog such as medications he takes. Some suggestions for stocking your first aid kit include:

Rolled cotton

Cotton balls

Gauze pads and tape

Hydrogen peroxide

Hyrdrocortisone ointment



Silver nitrate


Oral syringes (without the needle)


Large towel

Rolls of elastic wrap

Emergency ice pack



Legal Disclaimer

This post is for informational purposes only and should not be substituted for a vet’s professional diagnosis and treatment.


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