Dogs Dog first aid kit

Published on August 10th, 2017 | by Debbie Martin


Help Please!! What to Do in a Canine Emergency

Because of TV and internet advertising campaigns most people nowadays are aware of what can be done in an emergency situation – when someone collapses in the street for example. But how many of us would know what to do if we were to suddenly be confronted with a canine emergency? We would of course recommend contacting your vet immediately, however here is some specific advice about how to deal with situations immediately or until you can get your pet to a vet.


During very hot weather dogs can suffer heatstroke very quickly especially when confined in hot cars or exercised or tethered in a place without any shade. Heatstroke affects short-nosed dogs like Pugs, Bulldogs, Boxers and Cavalier King Charles spaniels in particular. Heavy-coated breeds and giant breeds can also be badly affected.

The symptoms of heatstroke include:

  • Excessive panting
  • Restlessness or agitation
  • Whining or whimpering
  • Excessive drooling or frothing/foaming at the mouth
  • Laboured breathing
  • Lethargy

If you suspect heatstroke act quickly to cool your dog down. Wet his coat with tepid – NOT cold water because this will constrict the blood vessels and slow the cooling process – and place him somewhere cool, preferably in a draught. Apply cool pads to the groin area and paw pads to accelerate the cooling procedure. He can have a small drink of water. Phone your vet for further advice.

Road Accidents

Whether it’s your dog or someone else’s that has been hit by a vehicle the rules apply in the same way. If possible, move the dog out of the way of other traffic to avoid a secondary collision and have someone stand up to keep an eye on the traffic and if necessary divert traffic around the scene. Talk gently to the dog and stay calm. Put a lead on the dog and consider placing a muzzle of some description around its mouth – not too tightly – to avoid being bitten. If the dog can walk don’t assume there are no injuries. There could be internal injuries or he could go into shock so take him to the nearest veterinary practice to be checked over. If the dog is unable to walk make a stretcher from a coat or blanket to carry him on. If there is any chance of serious fracture then try to include something rigid like a board. Small dogs can be picked up and carried by placing one hand under the chest and the other under the hindquarters. Avoid carrying him as you would a child. In all cases cover the dog with a blanket or coat to reduce heat loss.

Bleeding and Broken Bones

If there is bleeding, treat this with the tight application of a clean, dry bandage or towel. Add another layer if the bleeding is heavy and continuous. Use a tourniquet as a last resort but never do this if you suspect a broken bone.

If you suspect your dog has a fracture, speed of treatment is essential for proper healing so get him to a vet immediately. If there is a compound fracture, where the bone protrudes through the skin, maintaining good hygiene is essential to avoid infection. In this case do not allow the fracture to come into contact with the ground or with anything dirty; support the area with clean towels. Do not apply a splint or attempt to manipulate a broken bone yourself. Keep the dog calm and restrained while you transport him to the vet


If your dog has been in a fight there may be injuries you can’t see including shock. Puncture wounds may bleed profusely and there is a risk of infection which may need antibiotic treatment. If he is bleeding try to stem this with a clean, dry towel. Keep him calm while you take him to the vet.


Never give your dog anything to make him sick unless your vet has given specific advice on this. If you know what has poisoned the dog take a sample of this to the vet with you if possible or give details of it over the phone; that way the vet knows exactly what antidote to give.


Never try to restrain a dog during a fit as this can inadvertently prolong the fit. Instead, remove all items of furniture that could harm the dog or pad them out with cushions or blankets. Lower the noise level, darken the room and calmly wait for the fit to subside.

Burns and Scalds

Run cold water over these for around ten minutes. Don’t use any ointments or creams; rather cover with a cold, wet dressing if necessary.

Bites and Stings

If the dog is stung in the throat or mouth seek immediate veterinary help to avoid swelling of the airways. Elsewhere, remove the sting below the poison sac and apply a solution of bicarbonate of soda, for bee stings, or vinegar for wasp stings. Ice packs may help to cool the area.

Distended Stomach

Some deep-chested breeds like Great Danes, Mastiffs and Rottweilers among others can suffer from a condition called Bloat, where faulty digestion of food can cause a build-up of gas and twisting of the stomach. If this happens there may be attempts to vomit, or dribbling, discomfort and distending of the abdomen; get urgent veterinary treatment without delay.

Eye Injuries

If the eye is bulging from the socket or obviously irritated your immediate intention is to avoid further injury or infection. Apply a wet dressing to prevent the dog scratching it. If there are contaminants in the eye carefully flush these out with cool water, preferably using a dropper.

Contaminated Fur

If the coat or paws become contaminated with oil, tar or paint you may be able to wash these off using washing-up liquid or Swarfega. Small areas could be clipped to remove the contaminant but large areas may need professional attention. NEVER use turpentine or paint removers. Prevent the dog from licking by fitting an Elizabethan collar if you have one.

Ball Stuck in Throat

If the gums or throat are turning blue try this: get someone to hold open the mouth while you reach inside to try and dislodge the ball. Failing this, lay the dog on his side and push down sharply and quickly behind the last rib on the abdomen and hopefully the ball should shoot out.


In most cases dogs get themselves out of sticky situations so don’t risk your own life trying to rescue him. Once out, wipe away any debris from the nose and mouth then hold upside down by his back legs to help water drain away. If breathing has stopped attempt resuscitation.

Electric Shock

If at home turn off the power source then with a dry non-metallic item push the dog away from the power source. If it has stopped breathing attempt resuscitation. If outdoors, for example at a high-voltage power line, call the police to deal with the situation.


  • Check for signs of breathing.
  • Lay animal on its side and open the airway by opening the mouth and pulling the tongue forward.
  • If breathing doesn’t start extend the head forwards, hold the mouth closed and blow into the nose about 20 times a minute (every 3 seconds).
  • If there’s no heartbeat press on the chest just behind the front legs every second -15 times. Give 2 breaths into the nose for every 15 chest compressions.
  • If there’s no success after 3 minutes, recovery is unlikely.

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About the Author

Debbie has worked for Beeston Animal Health for a number of years and although generally involved with the marketing these days she has a great deal of knowledge on many things to do with small animals.

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