Dog First Aid

Basic canine care

If you’re caring for a multitude of critters, the previously-reviewed Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health is essential. If you’ve never had a dog or, for whatever reason, never took the time to do your due diligence, the Red Cross’ Dog First Aid is an excellent primer and quick emergency guide worth reviewing and keeping handy. Beyond the basics of general care, the guide provides short, clear instructions and photos (plus a DVD) on how to diagnose and tackle everything from choking, pad wounds, anal sac swelling (it happens), constipation, bite wounds, burns and ear infections to frostbite, electric shock (cord bites), parasites and the more esoteric afflictions you hope never to see, like “rectal prolapse.” There’s also a checklist and instructions on how to assemble the ultimate first aid kit (the list is much longer than I would have imagined).

Our best buddy’s been with us for five years and — *knock wood* — we’ve had only one serious emergency, which luckily happened outside the vet’s office: anaphylactic shock due to an allergy. As time passes, of course, the chances of potential emergencies and health issues will inevitably increase. I know the little dude appreciates our preparedness.

-- Steven Leckart 03/13/09


Nails (Broken or Torn Toenails)

What You Can Do.
If the nail is bleeding, apply styptic powder to the area... You can also try applying direct pressure to the nail with a piece of gauze or clean cloth for 5 minutes. If you do not have these items available, try the following:

1. Take a bar of soap and push it into the bleeding nail, or apply flour or cornstarch to the area with firm pressure for 5 minutes.

2. If you are not successful, wrap the paw (See Pad Wounds, page 89.) After bandaging the paw, transport your dog to a veterinary hospital.

If you are able to stop the bleeding at home, wait 1 day (to make sure you do not disturb the clot that has formed) then soak the paw in warm water and a saline solution to help it heal. Monitor the site for infection, as evidenced by swelling, pain, redness and reluctance to put weight on the paw. If any of these signs appear, take your dog to a veterinarian.

Tourniquet Technique

Use only on limbs -- never place a tourniquet on the neck!

1. Wrap a strip of cloth or gauze (about 2 inches wide) twice around the limb above the bleeding area. DO NOT MAKE A KNOT.

2. Tighten the gauze or cloth by wrapping each end around a rigid object, such as a stick.

3. Turn the stick slowly and just enough to stop blood flow. Write the time on a piece of tape on the tourniquet.

4. Loosen the tie for several seconds at least ever 10 minutes to help avoid permanent tissue damage.

5. Be aware that the interrupted blood supply may cause your dog to lose the limb.

6. Take your dog to a veterinarian immediately.

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