First Aid Tips for Dogs: Are You Prepared?

Conscientious owners are often ahead of the game when it comes to their dog’s well being. They purchase the best dog food, maintain regular veterinarian visits, keep up to date on routine vaccinations, and the like. How prepared are owners in an emergency? Is there a first aid kit available in the event of a canine injury? Would they know what to do if their dog suddenly stopped breathing? Being prepared is the first line of defense against a medical emergency.

Sick dog with bandages lying on bed

Wound Care

Some of the emergent medical conditions that catch owners unaware are cuts and scrapes. A well stocked first aid kit would hold gauze and non-adhesive wraps to stop bleeding and cover the wound. Many owners keep a muzzle in their first aid kit. A dog, even the mildest mannered dog on the planet, has the potential for biting when in pain. It’s better to be safe than sorry.


Poison Control

In the case of toxic ingestion, call the Animal Poison Center 888-4ANI-HELP (888-426-4435) or the local animal hospital. They may advise to induce vomiting by giving Milk of Magnesia or Hydrogen Peroxide. It is best to seek professional help before inducing vomiting. Certain hazards may cause more harm coming back up, than staying where they are.


Seizures usually look scarier than they are and take on a variety of forms. Some dogs twitch violently, some dogs lay still and only have rapid eye movement. Others may appear to be sleeping. If a dog is suspected of having a seizure, do not restrain him. Clear the area and time the seizure, it should only last 2-3 minutes. Once the seizure has passed, the dog will most likely be listless and groggy for several hours. Keep him comfortable and call the vet or animal hospital for further guidance.


How can a person tell if a dog is choking or merely coughing? Check for labored breathing. Try to gently look in the dog’s airway. A choking, frightened dog is more likely to bite, proceed with caution. If the object is visible in a dog’s airway, hook an index finger and try to dislodge the thing from his throat. If an owner is unable to remove the item, get the dog to the vet or local animal hospital as soon as possible.



While it may be safe to assume that everyone knows not to leave their dog in the car on a warm day, there still are daily reports all summer long of people who don’t understand a car heats fast, and a dog overheats faster. In the event of heatstroke, whether it is from an overheated car or merely a hot day in the backyard, it is best to cool the dog down immediately. Get the dog out of the sun and into the shade as soon as possible. Dip towels in cold water and lay them on the dog’s body, avoiding the head and face. This will bring the temp down slowly. By lowering the temp at a steady pace, a person reduces the risk of the dog going into shock. Once the temp starts dropping steadily it is safe to move the dog to a cool bath.


Every owner should look into taking a pet first aid course and an animal CPR course. Classes are offered through the American Red Cross, Pet Tech, or check with a local shelter. Most shelters and rescues are a valuable font of information concerning pet care.

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