Health & Hygiene How To's

Administering Emergency Care to your Dog

Written by Nancy Boland

Unfortunately, accidents happen from time to time. When a medical emergency befalls our furry friends, pet parents may find it difficult to make rational decisions, especially if something occurs during the middle of the night which emergencies often do. That’s why it’s crucial to be aware of your options and what you can do in the event of one.

24 hour emergency care

Talk to your veterinarian about an emergency protocol. Does your vet provide 24-hour service or does he or she work with an emergency clinic in the area? Some practices have multiple veterinarians on staffs that rotate on-call services after hours. Check to see if your primary care vet has partners who might answer an emergency call.

When Does My Dog Need Emergency Care?

Your dog may need emergency care because of severe trauma-caused by an accident or fall-choking, heatstroke, an insect sting, poisoning or other life-threatening situation.

What Are Some Signs That My Dog Needs Emergency Care?

  • Pale gums
  • Rapid breathing
  • Weak or rapid pulse
  • Change in body temperature
  • Difficulty standing
  • Apparent paralysis
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Excessive bleeding

Emergency care

Dogs who are severely injured may act aggressively, so it’s important to first protect yourself from injury. Approach your dog slowly and calmly; kneel down and say his name. If the dog shows aggression, call for help. If he’s passive, gently lift him taking care to support his neck and back in case he’s suffered any spinal injuries.

Once you feel confident and safe transporting your dog, immediately bring him to an emergency care facility.

First Aid Treatments

Learning some basic pet first aid is very useful. Checking your pet’s pulse rate and temperature can often help determine if your pet is experiencing an emergency situation. The pulse rate should be strong and regular. Normal resting pulse and heart rates are small dogs: 90-120 bpm; medium dogs: 70-110 bpm; and large dogs: 60-90 bpm.

Most emergencies require immediate veterinary care, but first aid methods may help you stabilise your pet for transportation or even resolve the problem depending on the severity.

  • If your dog is suffering from external bleeding due to trauma, try elevating and applying pressure to the wound.
  • If your dog is choking, place your fingers in his mouth to see if you can remove the blockage.
  • If you’re unable to remove the foreign object, perform a modified Heimlich manoeuvre by giving a sharp rap, which should dislodge the object, to his chest.

care 1

It’s also worth taking the time to assemble a first aid kit of basic supplies: gauze pads, gauze roll/bandages, a thermometer, tweezers, scissors, hydrogen peroxide, antibiotic ointment, an instant cold pack, rags/rubber tubing for a tourniquet and an animal first aid book.

Performing CPR

CPR may be necessary if you remove the object your dog is choking on, but he is still unconscious. First check to see if he’s breathing. If not, place him on his side and perform artificial respiration by extending his head and neck, holding his jaws closed and blowing into his nostrils once every three seconds.

care 2

If you don’t feel a heartbeat, incorporate cardiac massage while administering artificial respiration-three quick, firm chest compressions for every respiration-until your dog resumes breathing on his own.

About the author

Nancy Boland

I'm Nancy, owner of a very spoiled, one eyed Jack Russell called Basil. I'm a trainee veterinarian with a love for all things dogs. I'm especially passionate about dog adoption and always advocate rescue and enjoy writing about canine health and nutrition, alongside overall well-being tips for happy dogs!

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