First aid can save your dog’s life. As a dog owner, you should therefore know the most important emergencies and how to react. Here you can find out what these situations are and how to administer first aid to your dog.
What is the purpose of first aid for dogs?
As the name suggests, it is about being able to act quickly in an emergency. Often it is the half hour to the veterinary clinic that has to be bridged in order to save the dog’s life. If you manage to support your pet for that long, experts can take care of him afterwards.
What are the dog’s vital signs?
Check the vital signs when your dog is at rest and record the values in the animal profile. This will give you a good starting point for knowing whether values are elevated or depressed in an acute case. Check the vital signs even if your dog is not feeling well. The values in a healthy animal should be approximately as follows:
- Respiration: 15-30 breaths/minute at rest (small dogs more than large). Observe how often your pet’s chest rises per minute.
- Pulse: Heart rate of large dogs 60-100, small dogs 100-160 (puppy up to 220). Find the femoral artery on the inside of the thigh with your index and middle fingers and measure how often you feel the throbbing per minute.
- Capillary filling time to check circulation (Lift the lip and press on the gum. Measure how long it takes for the mucosa to turn pink again. It should not take longer than 2 seconds)
- Mouth mucosa (pink = ok, pale = shock or anaemia, blue = lack of oxygen, grey = poisoning, yellow = liver problem)
- Skin elasticity (Carefully pull up the skin fold in the neck. This should retract immediately and not remain to rule out dehydration)
- Temperature: 38-39°C, puppies up to 39.5° (the clinical thermometer is inserted carefully into the anus for this purpose)
What are the most common emergencies?
In any case, it is important to stay calm and not put yourself in danger. A dog that is in pain or shock may also bite its owner. So take precautions, such as putting on a bite guard, to avoid being injured yourself and not being able to help.
- Bite injuries
- Heat shock
- Torsion of the stomach
- Foreign body
- Road traffic accident
Even if you can’t directly detect an external injury, your dog should be examined by a veterinarian immediately after such accidents. Otherwise, internal injuries can be overlooked and have serious consequences. In shock, the dog may not show the pain, and only later can you notice changes in behaviour.
What immediate measures must be taken in an emergency?
- Secure the accident site and protect yourself
- Move the dog out of the danger zone if possible
- Check vital functions
- Stop heavy bleeding
- Notify veterinary hospital and follow instructions
- Gently place on board, crate or blanket for transport
- Take to veterinary clinic
How does resuscitation work in dogs?
If you cannot detect a pulse, heartbeat or breathing, you should start resuscitation as soon as possible. Attention, this measure only applies to absolute cardiac arrest! Follow the veterinarian’s instructions.
- Position- stable side position: Lay the dog on its side so that it lies on its right side. Make sure that the surface is hard, e.g. a mattress is not suitable. The neck and head must be stretched out and the mouth open.
- Cardiac massage: Place the heel of your hand on the heart (approximately where the elbow is pointing when it is bent). For large dogs, use two hands. For puppies and very small animals, the chest can also be grasped and pressed with the thumb. Now begin to press down firmly (do not be frightened if ribs break) and release the pressure. Repeat the pressure 10-15 times.
- Resuscitation: If possible, otherwise leave it at chest compressions. Cover the mouth and lips so that the air cannot escape. Place your thumb and index finger in a ring around the dog’s nostril. Put your mouth open and exhale gently and firmly 1-2 times. The dog’s chest should rise. Then continue with chest compressions.
Stop resuscitation if there are signs of life. After resuscitation, the dog must be taken to the vet!
There are some accident situations, but only rarely do you actually have to administer first aid to your dog. No matter what kind of accident it is, always have your pet checked by a veterinarian to rule out injuries and to avoid putting his life in danger unnecessarily. If your dog shows no signs of life, it must be resuscitated. As a dog owner, you should at least know about first aid for dogs in order to be able to act in an emergency.