Dogs have accidents; they can be hit by cars, drown, fall, get foreign objects caught in their throats or eat something poisonous. All dog owners should know what to do if their dog is seriously injured; an owner's ability to act quickly could make the difference between the dog living or dying. During an emergency, it is essential that owners stay calm; getting upset will upset the dog further and will make the situation worse. Dogs that have been seriously injured need to go to the veterinarian immediately, if possible the veterinarian should be called before the dog is enroute so they are prepared for him when he gets there and they are able to start treatment immediately.
When a dog has been seriously injured, owners should first ensure the dog is breathing; they should unblock the respiratory tract and begin artificial respiration if needed. If the dog is bleeding profusely, they will need to stop the bleeding so the dog does not die from loss of blood. Owners may need to apply a tourniquet to stop bleeding. The tourniquet should be placed between the wound and the heart to stop blood flow. If no tourniquet is available, owners can use a strip of fabric or even a large strong elastic band. Tourniquets must be loosened briefly once every thirty minutes. Once serious bleeding is stopped, any smaller wounds should be disinfected and bandaged and a blanket should be placed over the dog to help keep him warm. Dogs that are badly injured should not be moved until the owner has spoken to a veterinarian. Once the veterinarian has given the ok the dog should be carefully picked up and taken straight to the veterinarian office.
Special care needs to taken when moving dogs that may have internal bleeding or broken bones. The dog should be moved as little as possible. Smaller dogs can be carefully laid in a cardboard box lined with a blanket, while larger dogs should be carefully laid on their side on a blanket and then the blanket can be picked up like a stretcher. Dogs that are unconscious should have their tongues gently pulled out of their mouths to ensure they do not choke on it. Care should be taken when moving a dog in shock or in severe pain as they may bite.
When dealing with a dog that has been poisoned, owners should first identify the type of poison if possible; different types of poisons are treated differently. The dog should be enticed to drink as much liquids as possible, thereby eliminating the poison through urination. If the poison is noncorrosive such as strychnine owners can induce vomiting to help rid the dog of the poison. If the container of poison is available, use whatever antidote is specified on it, otherwise call the poison control centre in your area and follow their directions. The dog should be kept warm and given artificial respiration if needed while enroute to the veterinarian.
It is highly recommended that all households with dogs have a canine first aid kit, and that a first aid kit be brought along on camping and hiking trips. The first aid kit should include, but not be limited to: a rectal thermometer, cotton-tipped swabs, gauze, bandages, adhesive tape, 90% alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, antibiotic skin ointment and eye lotion, milk of magnesia, several syringes, allergy pills, scissors, blanket or a towel, tweezers and petroleum jelly.
When a dog is seriously injured and their life is in peril, it is of paramount importance that owners act quickly and concisely. The owner's actions in those first few minutes could make the difference between life and death.