Canine First Aid
Emergency treatment and first aid for pets should never be used as a substitute for veterinary care. It is important to understand because it may save your pet’s life before you can get to a veterinarian. An injured pet can be dangerous to work with, maintaining safety for both you and your pet is very important. Dog and cat bites hurt and if you are injured, providing your pet with care is much more difficult.
If your pet is injured restrain or muzzle your pet in a safe way that will keep him from panicking and struggling against you. You can make a muzzle out of a panty hose, cotton bandage, necktie, leash or other fabric that is about 24 inches long. To make the muzzle, tie a loose bow leaving a large loop, slip the loop over your dog’s nose and tighten firmly but gently. Bring the ends down under the muzzle and cross under the chin then behind the ears and tie a bow tie.
When you have to transport your pet, move them gently while controlling the head and neck. You can use a piece of plywood as a stretcher or use a large towel or blanket for a stretcher using it like a hammock. Small dogs or cats should be placed in a carrier or box to transport.
We will list some common injuries below and talk about some ways to start treatment until you can get to a veterinary professional for assistance. First we will discuss some common field injuries for sporting dogs and then move on to some problems that can occur anywhere.
Cuts and scrapes
These are common injuries when out in the field especially when hunting tree lines and fields with fences. Cuts vary in severity from abrasions to full thickness skin lesions to body cavity penetrations.
- Control Bleeding: The first step to first aid with cuts is to control bleeding, its best to use steady pressure with a clean piece of gauze or towel. Sanitary napkins are sterile and can be used to stop bleeding and help in bandaging a wound. Care needs to be used when applying a bandage as a bandage that is too tight can cause circulation issues. Bandages are always temporary fixes. When the wound has stopped bleeding seek medical attention.
- Clean the area: With superficial cuts or abrasions, you can wash them with a bit of warm water and an antibacterial soap. If you can clip the hair around the wound that is beneficial for cleanliness and healing.
- Antibiotics: You can apply some antibacterial ointment such as Neosporin or triple antibiotic ointment. Even small wounds may become infected and should be checked out by your veterinarian.
Bite wounds, serious lacerations and deep cuts all have a potential of becoming infected and need to be treated by a veterinarian. Often your pet will be placed on antibiotics, as it is common for abscesses to form under certain types of wounds. Occasionally there is damage to the tissues under a wound that will need surgical treatment as well. Deep wounds may need sutures for closure in order to heal properly. Any penetrating wounds or puncture wounds should be managed carefully.
If your dog has an imbedded object or is impaled on something, do not attempt to remove the object yourself!
- Control the bleeding then rush him/her to the closest emergency clinic. Dislodging the object can actually do more harm than good.
Accidents can happen when out hunting and gunshot wounds can be serious, all should be checked by a veterinarian. In the case of a gunshot wound, your pet may go into shock.
- Focus on stopping bleeding
- Keep airways open
- keep them warm and comfortable
- Go to your nearest emergency provider.
Bee and Wasp Stings
Insect stings and bites can be painful and anaphylactic shock can occur if pets have allergies to stings. If your pet is stung, carefully inspect the area and remove the stinger if it’s present, an ice pack may help to alleviate swelling. If an allergic reaction occurs some signs may be facial swelling, vomiting, fever and lethargy. Allergic reactions vary in severity and may respond to antihistamines or need additional medications. Your veterinarian can provide you with a recommended dose of antihistamine for your pet’s size. Some severe cases may cause your pet to go into shock and require hospitalization. Watch your pet closely for difficulty in breathing and swallowing. Seek assistance if these occur.
Heatstroke can be a big problem in the summer or on hunting trips on those warm days. To help avoid heatstroke, never leave your pet in a car on warm days. Cars can heat up over 100 degrees quickly leading to dehydration, shock, coma and death. If your pet becomes lethargic on hot days or even on mild days after strenuous activity, heatstroke may be the cause. Heatstroke needs to be treated very quickly. Every canine first aid kit should have a digital thermometer. A dog or cats normal temperature is between 99.5 and 102.5. If you think your dog has heatstroke
- Move your pet to a shaded area, out of direct sunlight.
- Make sure there is good ventilation, remember dog and cats don’t sweat (very much) and to cool down they pant and rely on convection (air moving over their body).
- You can place a cool wet towel over your dog’s shoulders, do not cover the nose or mouth.
- You can use cool water on his extremities to help cool him down.
- Seek medical attention immediately.
- Keep your pet away from any objects (including furniture) that might hurt it. Do not try to restrain the pet.
- Time the seizure (they usually last 2-3 minutes).
- After the seizure has stopped, keep your pet as warm and quiet as possible and contact your veterinarian.