“Pet First Aid is the immediate care given to a pet that has been injured or suddenly taken ill. Just as administering first aid to a human can mean the difference in a critical or life-and-death situation, the same is true for dogs and cats. Pet first aid includes information and training on preventing and responding to an emergency situation such as a bite, choking, bleeding, CPR, and more.”
Table of Contents
Emergency Case. Where To Begin?
If there is a medical emergency with the dog, it is important for the owner to assess the situation correctly and provide first aid to the dog until the veterinarian takes over the care. Participation in a dog first aid course offered by accident relief organizations is therefore highly recommended. Before the owner begins emergency measures on the dog, a veterinarian or an emergency animal clinic should be notified as soon as possible. We advise to refer to the closest clinic, using the AAHA-ACCREDITED HOSPITAL LOCATOR. In any case, the following applies to the first aider: Keep calm and pay attention to self-protection.
General Behavioral Tips
In the event of a medical emergency in a dog, the dog may react unpredictably under pain and stress. Even very peaceful animals can bite under shock or show aggressive behavior. Therefore, it is always important to have a calming effect on the animal before and during the first aid to the dog, to approach slowly and in a controlled manner and to avoid hasty movements. For your own safety and that of the animal, if there is no respiratory distress, the mouth should be secured with the help of a muzzle or a muzzle sling and the dog, if the injury allows it, should be leashed – this also prevents the dog from running away out of panic.
Stable Lateral Position of a Dog
For the first aid in dogs, the animal should be placed in the recovery position in case of a medical emergency, so that the injuries can be treated first. For this purpose, the animal is placed on its uninjured side. If the dog is unconscious, the head must be placed lower than the body in the stable lateral position – for this purpose, a blanket or a piece of clothing should be pushed under the chest area. If the dog is unconscious
Also make sure that the airways are clear, as the tongue or vomit in the mouth and throat can lead to choking. To do this, you have to empty the mouth with the fingers and pull out the tongue so that it hangs out of the mouth.
Checking Blood Circulation
Blood flow reflects the circulatory state of the dog. It can be checked on the gums. To do this, press with the index finger on a pale pigmented area of the gums for about 3 seconds. After releasing, the pressure point should have returned to its original color after two seconds. If it remains pale or is bluish in color, the circuit is in a critical state.
Whether breathing is present one can see by raising and lowering the rib cage and feel by placing the hand lightly on the rib cage. A mirror, which should fog up if breathing is intact, is also a good tool. If no breathing is apparent, the dog must be ventilated.
How to Ventilate a Dog
- The dog lies on its right side in a stable lateral position
- The first responder first ensures that the mouth and throat are free of vomit
- He places the tongue between the front teeth and hyperextends the neck
- The lips are then held together for ventilation
- The first responder inhales and blows his breath through the mouth into the dog’s nose in a controlled manner
- As he does so, the animal’s chest must rise. This process is repeated until the dog starts breathing again
If the dog is unconscious and not breathing, the first responder must palpate the heartbeat in order to perform chest compressions in the event of cardiac arrest. The dog’s pulse is best taken at the femoral artery. This runs along the inside of the thigh in the groin area. By placing the index and middle finger here, the artery can be felt, which resembles a thin cable. By applying light pressure, the pulse should be measurable. The heartbeat can also be felt on the left side of the chest, about 1.5 – 2 inches behind the elbow joint.
NOTE: If there is no pulse/heartbeat, cardiopulmonary resuscitation must be performed immediately as first aid for the dog
In case of cardiac arrest, the dog needs immediate cardiac massage and ventilation by the first aider.
How To Perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
- The dog lies on its right side with its neck hyperextended and its tongue hanging out of its mouth. T
- The first aider kneels in front of the animal at chest level and places the ball of one hand on the chest about 2 inches behind the elbow joint.
- Then he places the ball of the other hand on top of it and, with arms extended, squeeze the chest vertically from above.
- Repeat this process 30 times (2 massages/second)
- Ventilation should be given twice for every 30 times pumping.
Pressure Dressing for the Dog
In case of a heavily bleeding wound, for example after a traffic accident, there is a high risk of blood loss. Therefore, as first aid for the dog, a pressure bandage must be applied immediately to stop the flow of blood by applying external pressure to the injured vessel. Normally, only injuries to the extremities are treated with a classic pressure bandage.
To do this, the injured limb must first be elevated slightly to reduce blood flow. The wound must then be covered with a wound dressing. If such dressing is not available, a clean handkerchief is also suitable. A non-absorbent object larger than the wound surface must then be placed on the wound. It is tied so tightly to the wound with gauze bandages, or if necessary with a piece of clothing such as a scarf or tie, that the bleeding stops.
Transporting the Dog
Immediately following the measures of first aid to the dog, the animal must be taken to the veterinarian or veterinary hospital. During transport, first aiders must be particularly careful not to frighten the animal and cause it further injury. Ideally, two people should be available for this purpose. Then the injured animal can be carried stably and safely with the help of a blanket or board. An unconscious dog is always placed in a stable lateral position – i.e. on the right side of the body.
If a single person has to transport the injured dog, the dog should be carried on the arms with the injured body part on the opposite side from the carrier.
If the injury is to the extremities, the first aider should simply let them hang freely. In the case of broken bones, on the other hand, the body part must be placed in a stable position.