Basic First Aid for Dogs Part Two: Treating your Dog

When you give your pet first aid, you need to remember at all times that your own safety is paramount. A sick, injured, or panicked animal can easily become aggressive. Always use a form of muzzle or towel to prevent bites and scratches. Also, keep calm – your own calm demeanour will be a calming influence on your pet.


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Wounds and Grazes

Aside from severe bleeding, the biggest risk of any open wound (cut, puncture, abrasion or penetrating wound) is infection. If the wound is deep, there can also be damage to tendons, muscles, and organs. Thoroughly flush any wound with sterile saline, or if not available, fresh new bottled water. Cover the wound with a non-stick dressing and bandage. Seek vet attention quickly, as many wounds will need contaminants washed out and also any dead tissue removed. Severe wounds may require surgical repair.

Grazes are superficial only and can be clean or contaminated with dirt, grass, gravel or fur. These too should be flushed and a sterile dressing applied.


Puncture Wounds

These result usually from bites from other animals, and can be dangerous as deep infection can develop. Control any bleeding, keep your pet warm, and see your vet as a matter of urgency for antibiotic treatment and deep wound cleaning. Abscess can occur if treatment is not received very promptly.


Burns can occur from the sun, hot ground, fire, corrosive chemicals, electricity, extreme cold, and other sources. Scalding occurs with hot steam, water, wax or oil. Damage to the skin may be seen immediately, or within twelve to twenty-four hours.

Cool the area immediately with a cool compress or cool running water. If possible, immerse the burnt body part in cool water for at least five minutes. Apply a moist cool compress, keep your pet warm (as they may go into shock) and take him to the vet promptly.

Snake Bites

Pets can be bitten by snakes very easily, as even in suburban areas snakes make their way into back yards and gardens. If you suspect you pet has been bitten by any kind of snake, treat them all the same way:

• Keep him calm and still
• Immobilise the limb (if you know that is where the bite is located) and apply a pressure bandage. If not on a limb, apply strong pressure to the bite site.
• Take the pet to the vet or animal emergency clinic immediately
• Never wash or rinse the wound.
• Never apply a tourniquet
• Never try to catch or kill the snake; if you can identify it this will be helpful.

We will address more pet care and first aid issues in the coming weeks…

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