Imagine this: Your dog has swallowed your prescription medications and is now laying on his side, mouth frothing. It happened in a few seconds, what do you do?
It’s not something you want to think about and hopefully, you will never have to deal with these feelings of panic, but it is important to be prepared in case something happens to your dog or someone else’s. The first few minutes of the emergency, before you can get the vet involved, can make a tremendous difference in your pet’s outcome.
Being prepared is therefore important and we’ll look what to do in common emergency situations in this new blog series.
In this post, we’ll look at two scenarios: what to do if your pet stops breathing and if your pet is the victim of a burn. We’ll also look at where you can learn pet first aid.
Disclaimer: in any emergency cases, you should try and transport your pet to the vet immediately. If someone can drive for you, you can perform first aid while on the way to the vet. Make sure to call the vet beforehand so they can get everything ready for your arrival.
My dog has stopped breathing
- If your dog becomes unresponsive, you need to determine if breathing has stopped. You can look for signs of the chest rising and falling, or you can place a tissue in front of your dog’s nose and see if it moves.
- At this stage, it’s also good to check for a pulse to determine if your dog’s heart has stopped too. To do that, place a firm hand on your dog’s chest, where the elbow meets or gently feel with your fingers in the groin area.
- If your dog isn’t breathing but has a pulse, you need to look if the airway is obstructed by a foreign object or food: open the mouth, pull out the tongue and check back into the throat. Clear away any object with your fingers, being careful not to get bitten.
- If your dog still isn’t breathing, start performing rescue breathing:
- Close your dog’s mouth and place your mouth over the nostrils. You can wrap your hands on either side of the muzzle to create a seal so no air leaks.
- Exhale into your dog’s nose once every 3 or 4 seconds. Gently if your dog is small and a bit more forcefully for a larger dog. You should see your dog’s chest rising as you’re inflating the lungs.
- Continue rescue breathing until breathing starts again or veterinary help arrives.
My pet has stopped breathing, and I can’t find a pulse
- If breathing has stopped and no heartbeat can be felt or heard, you need to start performing CPR.
- Lay your dog on its right side on a firm surface. Place your dominant hand over your dog’s chest, directly behind the elbow. With the heel of your hand, press firmly and release at a rate of 1 compression per second.
- You can use two hands for big dogs or fingers for small dogs.
- Recheck for signs of life regularly (consciousness, movement, breathing).
First aid for pet burns
- Cool the area immediately with cold running water or cool compress. Continue for at least 5min.
- Apply a cool compress to the area affected by the burn, wrap your dog in a blanket and drive to the nearest vet.
Where to train for pet first aid
Your vet and vet nurse are your first point of call if you want to learn the basics of pet first aid. They can recommend a pet first aid course that will teach you to assess an emergency quickly and give you the confidence to administer first aid.
In the next Pet First aid post
In the next part to this series, we’ll be helping you create a pet first aid kit and looking at what to do if your dog gets a heatstroke, a nasty bite and what’s the first thing to do if your dog has swallowed something poisonous.
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