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Pet First Aid Guide: How to Give Your Dog Basic First Aid

Accidents involving pets can be nerve-wracking. Knowing what to do can help you manage the situation efficiently. Here, our vets share what to keep in a pet first aid kit and what to do when seeking emergency veterinary care for your dog in Bakersfield.

What is first aid for dogs?

First aid is the treatment that is given immediately following a medical emergency. The goal of first aid is to preserve the animal's life, reduce any pain or discomfort and minimize any risk of long-term disability or disfigurement.

Preparing Your Dog's First Aid Kit

Whether you have a dog, there are some basic items that you should keep stocked in your dog's first aid kit. Keep these items in your toolbox or another case, and make sure they are easily accessible. In the event of a pet emergency, you'll want these items handy to use at all times until you can get them in to see a veterinarian:

  • Antibiotic ointment 
  • Antiseptic lotion, spray, or powder 
  • Alcohol swabs 
  • Blanket, carrier, or leash to secure your dog
  • Blunt-tipped scissors or razors for cutting hair and bandages 
  • Cotton swabs or cotton balls 
  • Copies of medical records
  • Copy of rabies vaccination 
  • Grease-cutting dish soap 
  • Hand sanitizer or wipes 
  • Hydrocortisone cream 3%
  • Instant hot and cold packs 
  • Lubricating jelly 
  • Nonstick and waterproof adhesive tape to secure bandages
  • Penlight or flashlight
  • Rectal thermometer 
  • Splints and tongue-depressors 
  • Sterile gauze pads and bandages
  • Styptic liquid to stop minor bleeding 
  • Tweezers
  • Turkey baster or rubber bulb syringe

What are the main principles of first aid for dogs?

While urgent medical situations are uncommon for dogs, knowing how to manage the emergency can help. No matter what caused the situation, a few steps or principles can help you quickly gain control. They are:

  • Keep calm. and assess the scene
  • Maintain the airway
  • Control any bleeding
  • Seek veterinary care

Applying Basic First Aid for Dogs

Below are some basic first-aid tips that can be used for dogs. These can help stabilize your furry friend before bringing them to an emergency vet clinic in Bakersfield.

  1. To be safe, you can ask a friend or family member to help keep your dog calm. Even the nicest pups can bite when hurt, so it's best to be careful.
  2. Press a clean, thick gauze pad over any cuts or scrapes, and keep your hand on the wound until the blood starts to clot. Keep the pressure on for at least three minutes before checking to see if the blood is clotting.
  3. Keep the dog as quiet and warm as possible. If it is cold, you can loosely wrap them in blankets.
  4. If you think the dog has broken bones, find a flat surface, like a board or stretcher, on which you can move the pet from place to place. Using a blanket or towel to tie them to the surface may also be a good idea.
  5. After applying first aid, you should bring your pet to the nearest emergency animal hospital. First aid care differs from veterinary care, but it could save their lives while waiting to see a vet.

Stine Veterinary Hospital offers emergency care on a limited basis during our regular clinic hours. Our caring team can help dogs in most emergencies. Call our vets to find out how to move an injured animal based on your situation. Sometimes, your dog may need emergency or urgent care outside our office hours. In that case, you may want to use your favorite search engine to look for emergency veterinary care in or near Bakersfield.

How To Perform CPR On Dogs

Many pet parents don't even want to think about their dog ever needing CPR, but it's better to know it and not need it than to need it and not know it. CPR for dogs is virtually the same as CPR for people. These directions are designed to help if your dog is unconscious and reduce the risk that you'll get bit if they awaken.

  1. Remove any obstacles

    • Open the animal's mouth and make sure its air passage is clear. If not, remove the object blocking the airway.
  2. Extend the head and give the dog a few breaths

    • Large dogs: Close the dog's mouth tightly and breathe into the nose. The dog's chest should raise. Give two breaths at a time
    • Small dogs: You may be able to cover the nose and mouth of small dogs with your mouth while breathing. Their chest should rise. Take two deep breaths.
  3. Find the appropriate placement for your hands

    • Deep-chested dogs: Place the heel of one hand over the widest part of the chest and place your other hand directly over the first hand.
    • Barrel-chested dogs: Place the dog on its back, place one hand over the widest part of the sternum, and place your other hand directly over the first hand. Lock your elbows and make sure your shoulders are directly above your hands.
    • Small dogs & deep-chested dogs: Place the heel of one of your hands directly over the pet’s heart and your other hand directly over the first hand.
  4. Do chest compressions

    • Dogs weighing over 60 pounds: 60 compressions per minute.
    • Dogs weighing between 11 and 60 pounds: 80 - 100 compressions per minute
    • Dogs weighing 10 pounds or less: 120 compressions per minute.
  5. Alter your breaths with compressions

    • The compression-to-breath ratio should be similar to that of humans–30 compressions and two breaths. Repeat until your dog responds or begins to breathe independently.

Whether or not your pet begins to breathe independently, you should contact your vet or the nearest animal emergency hospital in Bakersfield and bring them in. Any amount of time without oxygen has the potential to cause damage. If your pet was choking on a foreign object or food, you should still bring them in as there may be damage to their airway that isn't visible.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog having a medical emergency? Please contact our vets at Stine Veterinary Hospital in Bakersfield right away.

New Patients Welcome

Stine Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vet is passionate about improving the health of Bakersfield companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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(661) 398-7121