Guide to Common Dog Emergencies – What You Can Do


Common Dog Emergencies and What You Should Do

Here is a list of some common problems dogs can have with quick suggestions of what to do.

Stops breathing – If your dog stops breathing you can attempt CPR. Check for a heart rate by feeling for a beat over the area of the heart which is just behind the elbow on the chest. Watch the chest for breathing movement. If your dog is not breathing, you can begin artificial respiration by closing the mouth and blowing into the nose. Check again for a heart rate. If there is no heart rate, begin chest compressions. Lay your dog on his side and use both hands to compress the chest just behind his elbow on the chest wall. For more information on CPR, click here.

Is choking – If your dog is choking, gently and carefully try to look in his mouth. You can perform the Heimlich maneuver by applying pressure on your dog’s abdomen just behind the ribs in quick thrusts. For more information on the Heimlich maneuver, click here.

Has something caught in his mouth – Make sure you are careful and don’t get bit. If you see something caught in his throat, you can gently try to remove it. Again be careful. If you need help, call or go to your veterinarian’s office or local emergency clinic.

Swallows a medication – If your dog eats a medication of yours, another dogs or an overdose of his normal medication, call your veterinarian or local emergency clinic. Some medications can be dangerous even in small doses. Your vet will need to determine if the medication is toxic. You will need to tell them how much your dog weighs, when he ate it, how much he got, and the name and strength of the medication. Your veterinarian or the poison control hotline will help you decide if the medication is toxic and if the situation is an emergency. Toxicities may require induction of vomiting, activated charcoal, or fluid therapy depending on the amount, timing and type of medication ingested.

Is vomiting – If your dog vomits once and is otherwise acting normal, you can probably wait and see what happens over the next hour or so. If your pet vomits repeatedly, acts lethargic, has diarrhea, seems anxious or uncomfortable, then he should be evaluated by a veterinarian.

Has a broken leg – If you suspect that your dog has a broken leg, approach him carefully. Many dogs that have no history of aggression may bite when they are in pain. Take him immediately to your veterinarian or local emergency clinic.

Has a seizure – If your dog has a seizure, protect him or her from injury by making sure they are not by any water or pools, or near stairs or sharp objects. Don’t touch the face or mouth. Many pets having a seizure may bite without knowing or meaning to. Don’t worry about them swallowing their tongue, they won’t. Talk to them calmly until they come out of the seizure. If you can, note the time and notice how long the seizure lasts. If it lasts longer than 5 minutes, call your veterinarian. Some pets may have a seizure one time and others will continue to have more seizures. Seizures can be caused by many different conditions including low blood sugar, infections, trauma, liver or kidney disease, or epilepsy. Call your veterinarian for recommendations. The best thing to do is to have your pet evaluated after its first seizure to look for any underlying disease. Repeated seizures should always be evaluated.

Is bleeding – If your dog is bleeding, he should be evaluated by your veterinarian. If it is a skin injury, you may try to gently apply pressure to the area. If your pet is vomiting blood, you notice blood in the stool, or is coughing blood, they should be evaluated immediately.

Is injured – Trauma can cause both internal and external wounds. Some injuries may be obvious such as a laceration or broken bone and others may be less obvious such as internal bleeding. At home, monitor your dog for trouble breathing, bleeding, bloody urine, abnormal bowel movements, lameness and lethargy. These are all serious and potentially life-threatening signs and should prompt immediate evaluation. You can evaluate your dog by assessing his gum color, respiratory rate and effort and taking a heart rate. If the gums are pale, respirations labored, heart rate high or low, your pet may be in shock. If your pet has experienced a serious trauma such as being hit by a car, the safest thing to do is to have him or her evaluated by a veterinarian.


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