We hope that we will never have to deal with a first aid emergency for our dog, but just in case we do, a little preparation can make all the difference to your pet’s long-term health and happiness.
Having a well-equipped canine first aid kit is the first necessity for every dog owner. Dogs are subject to many of the same conditions as their humans, and what will go into a first aid kit for a dog is, in many respects, exactly what you would have for yourself and your family. There are some good first aid kits on the market, well stocked ones that can be kept at home and smaller kits that can be handy when you are on the move, in the car or on vacation.
While having a well-equipped canine first aid kit in the home and car is important, a first aid kit is only useful if you understand how to use it. Unfamiliarity with the supplies will make your kit basically useless. A good pet first aid book should be in the kit, but it should only go into it once you have read through it several times – thumbing through desperately when your dog has collapsed, will deny him or her the care they need. Many veterinarians provide first aid classes for dogs at their facilities, so speak to your vet about whether these are available.
When a dog has been injured, it will be frightened and in pain. Even if your dog is used to having you handle them frequently, when it comes to actually caring for an injury, many dogs will react negatively. It might be a good idea to conduct lessons of your own with your dog before first aid is actually needed. Pretending to care for an ‘injured’ paw, or placing the animal on its side so that the belly can be accessed can get your dog used to being handled in this way, making it more likely that the dog will co-operate if an illness or injury should occur. Make getting a treat a part of this play-acting, too.
Years ago, one of our French Bulldogs, Springer, injured his eye very badly and required some fairly intensive veterinary care. The first time the vet treated him, he fought and bit. Once we got him home, I gave him a treat both before putting in the medicine and afterwards. Soon, he was rushing in to get his medicine with no fuss at all so that he could get his treat. At his follow-up visit to the vet, she was absolutely astonished at how quiet and docile he was. As soon as he was finished, however, he went right over to her and asked for his treat, which he got. Even the most frightened and nervous dog will often come around with patience, kindness, and a treat.
Want an online course which walks you through what to do in an emergency with your pet? Then take a look at Dr Katherine van Ekert Onay’s guide to ‘First Aid for Your Pets‘.