Common Emergencies and Your Dog
Brought to you by: Purina Pro Plan Dog Food
No matter how carefully a dog is supervised, accidents do happen. Taking the injured dog to a veterinary facility for treatment is recommended. The following suggestions are to help the dog owner identify the nature of the emergency and the steps that can be taken if; for some reason, prompt veterinary care is not available.
In any emergency, try to remain calm and think clearly. Approach the injured dog in a quiet, non-threatening manner and speak in a soothing tone of voice as you call the dog by name. If your dog seems inclined to bite, which he may do if frightened and in pain, protect yourself by restraining him. (See illustration below.)
If your dog is hit by a car, apply restraint if necessary. Use a blanket, jacket, board or any other makeshift stretcher to move him from the road. Take care not to expose yourself to injury or to be bitten by the dog. Move the dog carefully and place him gently on a car seat and drive to a veterinary hospital.
Covering the dog with a blanket, shirt or jacket can help conserve its body heat. When an animal is severely hurt, ill, or becomes unconscious, the mechanisms that maintain and conserve many body systems may fail and shock may follow. Signs of shock include shallow breathing, prostration, diminished reaction to pain and other stimuli. The eyes have a glassy look and the gums are pale and cool.
If the dog is bleeding profusely, use a cloth or your hand to apply direct pressure to the wound to control the bleeding. Place a gauze pad (or in the case of an automobile accident, an improvised pad) over the wound. Wrap it tightly with fabric strips, tying the ends securely. You may be able to hold the bandage in place if someone is with you. Avoid frequent removal of the bandage to check the wound because the bleeding may start again. (Please see dog first aid supplies in our Pro Shop.)
A tourniquet should be avoided. It is usually not as effective as properly applied pressure and, if applied incorrectly, the prolonged interruption of the blood supply may cause the loss of a limb.
Internal bleeding frequently follows an automobile or other severe accident. Coughing up blood or vomit or excrement that is bright red to dark reddish-brown or black may indicate injury to the stomach or intestines. Seek veterinary aid immediately.
Heat stroke often occurs in dogs left in poorly ventilated or closed cars exposed to the sun. Lack of shade for dogs housed outdoors, no fresh drinking water, excessive excitement or exercise during hot weather may also be the cause.
Symptoms include panting, a staring or anxious expression, failure to respond to commands or stimuli, warm dry skin, extremely high fever (at times as high as 110*F the normal range is 1Ol*F to 1O3*F), dehydration, rapid heartbeat and collapse. Profuse salivation and vomiting may also occur.
If a dog shows signs of heatstroke, immerse him in cool water or spray him with a garden hose to help lower his body temperature. If water is not available, apply ice packs to his head and neck and move him to a cool place immediately.
With any form of heat stress, prompt veterinary attention is important to deal with potential complications.
Sometimes a dog may accidentally be exposed to a long period of extreme cold and may suffer frostbite. Frostbite in dogs occurs most frequently on the ears, tail, scrotum and feet. Signs of frostbite include flushed or reddened tissues initially, then white or grayish tissues, evidence of shock, scaliness of skin and eventual sloughing of tissue surface. Frozen tissues should not be rubbed or massaged. Self-mutilation of the affected area should be prevented.
Prompt veterinary treatment is needed. If this is not possible, the affected area should be warmed by immersing in warm water (do not use hot water) or by using warm moist towels that are changed frequently. When warming is complete, gently dry the affected tissues, lightly bandage with a clean, dry, non-adhering bandage.
Consequences relating to the loss of tissue can become evident several days later, so close observation is needed.
Any animal who has suffered frostbite should be protected from further exposure to the cold. Frostbitten tissues are more susceptible to repeated freezing.