Are You Prepared for a Dog Emergency?

Let’s face it…dogs are curious, have no regard for their own safety, and get into all kinds of trouble!  Sometimes their curiosity can lead to a first aid situation.  They rely on us for help.  Are you prepared to help your precious fur baby when needed?  Do you know where to find first aid tips quickly and easily?   The web is full of first aid tips, but often in different locations. That’s not helpful if time is of the essence. So I thought it would be great to provide a central location for doggie first aid.  These are tips to help your dogs until you can obtain veterinary care.


Dog First Aid Kits

You can’t provide much help if you don’t have the right supplies.  Just like most homes have a first aid kit for people, they should also have a kit for pets to handle minor injuries.  Of course, a vet trip is needed for anything major.  Many stores sell pre-made kits in a range of prices to fit any budget.  There are kits for travel, home, catastrophe, and sporting (if you’re out in the field and vet help is longer off).  Dr. Bill’s First Aid Kit  was created by a vet and has the majority of supplies you could need for $89.95. This kit would be great for dogs out in the field.  For less expensive options  for a home pet, check out Outdoor Safety’s selection.  I purchased the Premium Kit (once I receive it, I’ll put up a review. You can also create your own kit.  It should include these essentials. 


Signs of choking

  • Acts anxious, nervous or frantic
  • Stops breathing
  • Gums turn blue or white
  • Makes loud breathing or gasping sounds, struggling for breath
  • Pawing at his mouth

First Aid for Choking

  • Open your dog’s mouth and sweep your finger to try and locate the object causing the blockage.  If you can feel the object, pull the tongue forward and remove the item.  Be very careful to not push the item further into his mouth/throat.
  • If you cannot remove the object, perform the Heimlich.

Heimlich Maneuver

  • If your dog is small enough, you can hold the dog with his back against your chest.  For larger dogs, stand or kneel behind them.
  • Wrap your arms around your dog just under his ribcage.
  • Make a fist with one hand.  Wrap the other hand around the fist with your thumb up.
  • Perform 5 rapid abdominal thrusts.  You want to thrust inward and upward towards the dog’s back.
  • If your dog becomes unconscious, you will need to perform Rescue Breathing (see CPR section below).
  • Take your dog to a veterinary as soon as possible.

For a further detailed article on choking, please see The Happy Dog Spot.


  1. First and foremost…please check your area for a pet CPR class.  Nothing compares to actually practicing it with a licensed instructor before you need it.  Many pet stores, dog walking companies, and the American Red Cross are now offering pet CPR classes.
  2. Try to transport your dog to the vet while someone is performing CPR.  The CPR success rate for dogs is lower than humans, and quick vet response is their best chance.
  3. Lay your dog on his/her right side.
  4. Remove any obstruction (see choking above).
  5. Remember the ABCs…Airway, Breathing, Circulation (Compressions)
  6. Airway.
    1. If the tongue has rolled back, bring it forward.
    2. Gently bring the head in line with the neck. NOTE:  if your dog has a head or neck injury, do not over-straighten the neck.  You only want to open the airway.
  7. Rescue Breathing.
    1. Hold your dog’s mouth closed.
    2. Put your mouth over your dog’s noise.  For small dogs, your mouth may cover their nose and mouth.
    3. Slowly give 2 one-second breaths. Your dog’s chest should expand.
    4. Repeat every 2 to 3 seconds until your dog is breathing on his/her own.
  8. Circulation/Compressions.
    1. Feel for pulse. Gently bring your dog’s top elbow (left side) back to where it contacts the chest.  You will be able to feel the heartbeat in this location.
    2. If there is a pulse, perform rescue breathing until your dog is breathing on his/her own.
    3. If no pulse, perform rescue breathing and compressions.
    4. Put one of your palms on the dog’s rib cage, near the heart region, and put your other palm on top of it.
    5. Without bending both the elbows, press the rib cage in a downward motion.
    6. Perform rapid chest compressions.  The chest should be compressed for one-quarter to one-third the width of the chest for a count of one and then let go for a count of one. Carry on at a rate of 80 compressions per minute. Think of it as “one and two and three…etc.” with the compression on the number and the release on “and”.
    7. For dogs under 90 lbs, you’ll want to give 1 rescue breath for every 5 compressions.  For dogs over 90 lbs, give 1 rescue breath for every 10 compressions. If two persons are available, one should do the rescue breathing while the other does the compressions.
    8. Continue performing CPR until the dog begins to breathe and has a steady pulse.

Check out the full CPR instructions and video from the American Red Cross.


  1. Call your vet or a poison hotline.
    1. ASPCA’s Poison Hotline number is 888-426-4435.  There is a $65 charge for the call.
    2. Pet Poison Hotline number is 800-213-6680. Charge is $39.
    3. Angell Animal Poison Hotline number is 877-2ANGELL. Charge is $65.
    4. Program at least 2 hotlines into your phone.  You don’t want to be searching for the number when you need it.
    5. If you are registered with your dog’s microchip company, check if they have a poison hotline.  I’m registered with HomeAgain, and my membership includes access to the ASPCA’s Poison Hotline for no fee.
  2. Never, ever induce vomiting unless advised by a vet or poison hotline.  Some items can cause more harm if vomiting is induced.
  3. Do NOT give any liquid (unless told by the hotline or vet to give hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting).  Liquids can move some poison into the body sooner.
  4. Here’s a list of the top 10 poisons.


Deep Wounds (bleeding or have exposed muscle, fat, or bone)

  1. Stop the bleeding using direct pressure. This is the preferred method. Other methods include:
    • Elevate an injured limb
    • If direct pressure isn’t working, use your finger and thumb to apply pressure to the supplying artery.
    • Tourniquet, only as a last resort!  Tourniquets can lead to amputation.
  2. Do not attempt to clean the wound unless instructed to do so by a veterinarian.
  3. Protect the wound from contamination by applying a water or saline-soaked compress. Do not remove it until instructed to do so by a veterinarian.
  4. Immobilize the wound to prevent further damage.
  5. Obtain professional veterinary care. Transport the animal with the affected area facing up.

Superficial Wounds (wounds that do not penetrate all the way through the skin)

  1. Stop the bleeding. Clean and bandage the wound.
  2. Consult your veterinary to determine if a visit is needed.

Do not apply any other materials to the wound unless specifically instructed to do so by your veterinarian.


Miscellaneous First Aid Situations has published a wonderful page listing how to handle all kinds of  first aid situations including eye injury, fractures, bleeding, drowning, dehydration, and many others.  I highly recommend their site.



Posted on November 10, 2012, in Paw Worthy News and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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