Canine First Aid

The aims and rules of first aid
First Aid treatment is based on three aims and four rules.

1. To preserve life
2. To prevent suffering
3. To prevent the situation from deteriorating

1. Dont panic
2. Maintain airway
3. Control haemorrhage
4. Contact a vet

The limitations of first aid
The goal of first aid is to help the patient as best as you can – no more than that. First aid should only be used to preserve life until a veterinarian can be found. It must be remembered that not all patients can be saved: some will die.

The following is a guide for basic first aid in various situations involving dogs.

Many items found in the home and garden can be poisonous to animals and it is vital that you know what to do if you suspect the dog has been poisoned.

There are three ways for dogs to get poisons into their system:
,h Ingestion
,h Inhalation
,h Absorption

It is important to bring the following to the vet if you suspect a dog has been poisoned:
,h Packaging
,h Note of approximate amount taken
,h Time taken

This will help to speed up the process of treating your dog.

Ingestion (non-corrosive)
If the dog has ingested a non-corrosive poison vomiting should be induced. There are various ways to induce vomiting, these include:
,h Salted water
,h Mustard and water
,h Washing soda
,h Rompun injection (by veterinarian)
,h Wash out stomach (by veterinarian)

Ingestion (corrosive)
If a corrosive poison has been ingested it is vital that it is given a substance to either dilute or demulcent.
To dilute:
,h Water

To demulcent:
,h Milk
,h Olive oil

If the dog has inhaled a poisonous substance you should do the following:
,h Get into fresh air
,h Keep warm
When the dog gets to the vet they should have oxygen therapy.

If the dog has absorbed poison (such as from chemicals on the fur) the following action should be taken:
,h Wash the dog, making sure to wear protective clothing
,h Stop the animal from licking itself

It is important to not use any chemicals when washing substances from the dogs coat.

If you are unsure if your dog has been poisoned
If you are unsure if your dog has been poisoned, look out for the following symptoms:
,h Breathing difficulty
,h Unusual actions
,h Digestive upset
,h Irregular heart, rapid, or weak
,h Shivering
,h Convulsions
,h Salivation

There are many different types of poisoning; each will affect your dog differently. Many do not produce immediate symptoms. Do not make the dog vomit if it is a corrosive poison or you do not know what kind of poison the dog has consumed. Consult a veterinarian for further instructions.

Snake Bites
In the UK there are only two main native species of snake V the non-venomous grass snake and the venomous adder. However, with exotic pets becoming increasingly popular a lot of pet snakes escape from their owners houses V increasing the chance of dogs being bitten. Thankfully, many of these exotic species are non-venomous.

Symptoms of snake bites:
,h Pain
,h Lethargy
,h Vomiting
,h Diarrhoea
,h Salivation, thirsty
,h Swelling at the area of the bite
,h Shock

If a dog has been bitten by a snake seek immediate veterinary attention. While transporting, immobilise the part of the animal that has been bitten, keeping below the heart level. A constricting band may be used, with caution, to impede the spread of the venom. Keep the animal calm and confined during the transport. If possible try to identify the snake species, as it may be helpful in treatment.

Wasp and Bee Stings
During their life most dogs will be stung by either a bee or a wasp. The following will explain what to do if this happens.

Bee Stings
Bees will only sting once and will leave their stinger in the dogs skin. It looks like a small black hair and if you can find it you should remove it with tweezers. Bee stings are acidic so the sting area should be bathed with a mild alkaline solution such as bicarbonate of soda.

Wasp Stings
In most cases wasps will remove the stinger after stinging. The sting is alkaline so the area should be bathed in a mild acidic solution such a vinegar.

In all stings a soft, painful swelling will appear. If this occurs in the mouth or trachea a cold compress should be used (e.g.: a bag of frozen peas) and the animal should be taken to the vet as it could cause respiratory problems.

If a dog has been electrocuted first aid is required IMMEDIATELY to preserve the animals life. Signs of electrocution include panting, breathing difficulty/no breathing, a burn across the lips and tongue and/or unconsciousness.

Before touching the animal turn off the power and take out the plug. Next the collar should be removed and if the animal is conscious its mouth should be washed out with cold water.

If the dog is not breathing but has a pulse rescue breaths should be performed using mouth to nose resuscitation and if there is no breathing or pulse cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) should be performed.

Wrap the dog up in a blanket to help prevent shock and take them to the vet immediately.

Dogs are good swimmers but may occasionally get into trouble in the water. If the dog is drowning you should take the following steps.

First, remove the dog from the water. Then grab the dog by the hind legs and swing it back and forth to remove the water from the lungs. Mouth to nose resuscitation and cardiac massage should be performed if needed.

If a dog is choking the situation must be resolved immediately. If possible try to get a finger behind the object and hook it out. If this cannot be done the dog should be held by the hind legs and shaken. If the object still cannot be dislodged the Heimlich manoeuvre should be performed.

If a dog goes into a fit it is important not to touch or hold it. It should not be moved at all, if there are any objects or furniture around the dog these should be moved out of the way to prevent injury. The lights should be dimmed and anything noisy should be removed. Talk gently to the dog and make sure to time the fit. Even if the dog seems alright afterwards veterinary attention must be sought