Your Guide to Dog Emergencies


Emergencies happen every day. Being prepared can greatly increase the likelihood of a successful outcome. To help you learn what you can do when faced with a crisis, we have compiled a list of important and informative articles. This is only meant as a guide. If your pet is injured or ill, please seek consultation with your veterinarian.

How to Perform CPR – Hopefully you will not need these skills but learning how to perform basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation can save your dog’s life.

What to Do If Your Pet is Choking – Since your pet cannot talk to you, learning the signs of choking and what to do for your dog can greatly help.

What are the Normal Vital Signs – Learn what is normal for your dog. This way, you can be better able to determine if something is wrong.

How to Apply a Bandage – Learning how to apply a bandage to your dog takes some practice. Too loose or too tight can result in even more damage.

How to Take Your Dog’s Temperature – Taking your pet’s temperature is certainly not a favorite task but is extremely helpful in determining the extent of your pet’s illness.

How to Give Medication – Many injured or ill pets will need medication. Learn how to give medication quickly and easily to your dog.

Some common emergencies can be initially treated at home. On the following pages we have listed emergencies you may encounter.

Abrasion. An abrasion is an injury to the superficial layers of skin and is often called a scrape. If the scrape appears to be small and close to the skin surface, clip the hair and clean the injury with warm water, hydrogen peroxide or Betadine®.

Abscess. An abscess is a sac or lump that contains pus. Sometimes, the abscess will rupture and pus will begin to drain. If this happens and the rupture site is small, clean the area with peroxide or Betadine. Often the wound is left open to drain during the healing process. During healing, make sure your pet does not lick at the abscess. If necessary, use an Elizabethan collar.

If the abscess is not open your veterinarian may recommend application of warm compresses for about 5-10 minutes 3- 4 times per day to help increase the flow of blood to the area. The best thing to do for an abscess is to take your pet to your local veterinarian where the hair can be clipped and the area examined. Your veterinarian will probably lance the abscess and drain and flush out the pus. Your pet may need to be sedated to allow thorough cleaning and drainage of the area. Antibiotics are often prescribed. If your pet is acting lethargic, acts painful or is not eating – please see your veterinarian.

Allergic Reactions. Allergic reactions can vary from mild to severe and you may not realize your dog is developing an allergic reaction until it is far beyond home care. Allergic reactions can occur while your pet is on medication, after vaccination or even from a bee or wasp sting. Most often, allergic reactions result in facial swelling and hives, but some pets may develop more severe symptoms. Check for signs of shock such as pale gums, weakness or difficulty breathing. If your pet is having difficulty breathing – do the ABC’s of CPR. Remove any stinger if the reaction is from an insect bite. If your pet is swollen and itching, call your veterinarian for advice regarding administering diphenhydramine (Benadryl®).

Animal Attack or Bite Wounds. Gentle clipping of the hair and cleaning of the wound with hydrogen peroxide, povidone iodine or chlorhexidine can help reduce infection. Extreme care must be used since bite wounds are painful and the pet may bite the person caring for him/her out of fear or pain. You may have to muzzle your pet. Despite initial home care, all bite wounds should be examined and treated by a veterinarian. Extensive damage and/or illness can occur even if it appears as though there is only a small, minor puncture wound on the skin.

Bleeding. Pressure, pressure, pressure. If you notice that your pet is bleeding, depending on the location of the injury, gentle pressure with a clean towel is generally helpful to stop the flow of blood. Elevating the area can also help decrease blood flow. Wrap the area with a towel and tape and seek veterinary care immediately. If you notice even small amounts of bleeding when there has been no trauma or injury to provoke it, or bruising in the absence of injury, seek veterinary care as soon as possible.


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