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Published on September 8, 2016 by Metal Tents

Even adventure dogs have accidents sometimes, and canine first aid isn’t exactly common knowledge.  I’m no doctor, but if you’re ever in certain situations, these are things that can help you save your dog while you’re getting him to a real doctor. Here’s how to respond to a few injuries and emergency situations that may emerge.

Always carry an up to date Emergency Kit for Pets


Bleeding (Externally) 

First Aid:  Press a clean, thick gauze pad over the wound, and keep pressure over the wound with your hand until the blood starts clotting. This will often take several minutes for the clot to be strong enough to stop the bleeding.

If bleeding is severe and on the paws or legs, apply a tourniquet (using an elastic band or torn up shirt) between the wound and the body, and apply a bandage and pressure over the wound. Loosen the tourniquet for a few seconds every 10-15 minutes. Severe bleeding can quickly be life-threatening, get your animal to a veterinarian immediately if this occurs.

Once the bleeding in under control, secure the padding around the paw with tape.(Pet First Aid Kits come with the right tape) It’s up to you to keep your dog from making the wound worse, active breeds and hunting dogs sometimes refuse to slow down, even with a gaping hole in their paw. My dog once had a freak accident and ended up with a cut in his paw, and he just kept going until I noticed the trail of blood.

Booties can prevent foot problems on the trail, but be careful, ill-fitting ones can rub or chafe, causing bigger problems than the cuts they’re supposed to help avoid.


Broken/Fractured/Sprained Leg

First Aid:  How to address the injury depends on the location of the fracture or sprain, but it’s similar to how you’d treat a human: splint it, wrap it tightly with a T-shirt or bandage, and carry the animal to a vet. Keep your dog calm to prevent the bone from becoming more displaced or from damaging nearby arteries, muscles, or nerves. Aspirin can help with pain during evacuating. This is a serious emergency and requires immediate vet care.

Keep your dog leashed if you’re entering an area with automobile traffic or heavy bicycle use. And if you trip, try not try to catch your fall on your best friend.


Snout Full of Porcupine Quills

First Aid: Never break off the quills, since they tend to travel deeper into the skin, where they’re hard to find. If it’s less than a dozen, you can probably remove them yourself using pliers or a pair of fishing hemostats. Wait until the dog settles down, then hold the skin around the base of the quill with one hand and use the pliers to pull the pricker straight out. More than a dozen? Have a vet do it. And though it may seem cruel, before you decide to arrange air medical air support there’s no rush; the quills can stay in there a day or two without causing permanent damage. However, do go to the vet for a systemic antibiotic to prevent infections. In some areas, a rabies booster is required if a dog comes into physical contact with a wild animal.



If your pet’s skin or eyes are exposed to a toxic product (such as many cleaning products), check the product label for the instructions for people exposed to the product; Should the label instructs you to wash your hands with soap and water if you’re exposed, then wash your pet’s skin with soap and water (don’t get any into its eyes, mouth or nose). If the label tells you to flush the skin or eyes with water, do this for your pet as soon as possible (if you can do it safely), and call a veterinarian immediately.

First Aid: In rural areas, dogs can get into bait set by trappers, mushrooms, rotten animal carcasses, and rodenticides around outbuildings. If you suspect your dog has swallowed a toxin or if the animal is having seizures, losing consciousness, is unconscious or is having difficulty breathing, telephone your veterinarian, emergency veterinary clinic or the Animal Poison Control Center hotline (888)426-4435 – available 365 days/year, 24 hours/day) immediately. There is a fee for the consultation.

If possible, have the following information available:

  • Species, breed, age, sex, weight
  • Symptoms
  • Have the product container/packaging available for reference.
  • Gross, but collect any material your pet may have vomited or chewed, and place it in a plastic sealable bag to take with you when you bring your animal in for veterinary treatment.

Having these will help your vet determine the antidote. It’s a good idea to visit the vet even if your dog disgorged the poison. Keep an eye on its bowel movements, looking for blood or anything unusual. If the dog is lethargic, its abdomen sore, or its body cool to the touch, seek medical care right away.


Heat Exhaustion

First Aid: The initial challenge here is diagnosing. If a dog open-mouth pants constantly with its tongue out and can’t seem to be able to close its mouth, it may be suffering from heat exhaustion. Some dogs lie down and refuse to move. Others walk like they are moving through thick mud. Check the ears—if they’re unusually hot, this is a good sign the dog is overheating. As soon as possible, cool it off. One quick method is to get its legs and belly in a stream or other water source for half an hour to an hour. Then, for the rest of the day, rest every 10 or 15 minutes, and give your dog plenty of water to drink.

Recovering from heat stroke can be a long process. Don’t exercise your dog for several days, and take it to the vet for a blood test to make sure there’s been no injury to internal organs.

Learn your dog’s limits, and don’t overwork it on hot days.


Read more on RVing with your pets by visiting our blog section.

Category: RVing With Pets


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