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First Aid for Dogs: What You Need to Know as a Pet Owner

Dog lovers all feel that their pets are a big source of comfort and joy in their lives, so it’s important to care for them properly, especially in their times of need. Ask your vet what you need to make a First Aid Kit and keep it handy, but take care to keep it away from kids. Remember, as well, to stay calm in the case of an emergency. Your dog will respond to your demeanor and keeping them calm is of great importance.


Signs of illness in your dog are loss of appetite, upset stomach, and hair that falls out in clumps. Also, eyes that tear, a runny nose, coughing and sneezing, worms and worm eggs in feces, fits, paleness of gums, and fever. Vomiting is not always a sign of sickness. In fact, vomiting is instinctual and comes from their hunting days when regurgitating was the easiest way to bring food back to their pups.


If your dog isn’t breathing, begin resuscitation immediately and get someone to phone the vet. Check that nothing is obstructing the air passages, remove and check that the tongue isn’t curled back. Put your hands around the dog’s mouth to keep it closed and blow into its nose. Wait for one second and blow again. Don’t give up even if it takes an hour.

Feel for a heartbeat. The heart is situated 2 to 3 inches above the dog’s elbow under the left side of the chest. Put the dog on its right side. Pull its tongue out, and check for obstructions. Press your palms with the thumbs next to each other on the ribs. Push down firmly and release quickly once every 5 seconds. Keep persevering until you get a result.

(Image: Screenshot / YouTube)
Put the dog on its right side to do chest compressions. (Image: Screenshot / YouTube)


Take untreated bandaging materials and place a non-adhesive dressing on the wound. Hydrogen peroxide and triple antibiotic ointment will work fine. Place a layer of cotton wool and cover with cotton bandages. Stick it to the fur with surgical tape. Bind the entire area with adhesive bandage or tape. When bandaging limbs, the paws should be included or they may swell up.

If the dog can’t walk, there might be internal injuries. Bleeding can occur from the eyes, nose, ears, vagina, or rectum. Pick the animal up by placing one hand on the front of the chest and the other under the hindquarters or devise a stretcher with a blanket for larger dogs. For dogs that can’t walk, use a hardboard and slide the patient on it gently. Covering with a blanket will help with shock and reduce the loss of body heat. Then, go to the vet.


Poisons work quickly. Stomach spasms, vomiting, or a slow heartbeat are usual symptoms. (A normal heart rate for small dogs is around 160 bpm and for larger dogs, it’s 70 bpm.) Shortness of breath, paralysis, and small pupils are other symptoms. Dogs may accidentally ingest rat poison from contaminated water.

If you suspect poisoning from weedkiller, find the packaging for the product and have it with you when you phone the vet. In the case of animals having chewed toxic weeds, identify the plant. If the dog hasn’t vomited and is still conscious, administer water every 10-20 minutes or a mixture of cool, strong tea. A good form of protein is liver. Administer a spoonful intermittently. Never give any water or food if the animal is vomiting or unconscious. Go to the vet.

(Image via pixabay / CC0 1.0)
If the dog hasn’t vomited and is still conscious, administer water every 10-20 minutes. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Eye injuries

If the eye is protruding, apply a cold compress. Or, drop olive oil into the eye socket. Place a clean bandage over the eye and press it gently back into the socket. If the eye is hanging out of the socket, soak the bandage in olive oil and wrap around the eye and tie lightly. Go to the vet. For chemicals, flush with water repeatedly. You can use an eye drop bottle filled with water to flush it out. For snake spit in the eyes, water works best.

Take note that a dog in shock or pain might bite. So be cautious and if necessary bind its mouth with a tie or scarf or use a muzzle before attempting any treatment. Remember to always keep the phone number of your vet close at hand.

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  • Simone Jonker worked in NTD Inspired for two years. She wrote light articles and inspiring stories.

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