By Adela Morris
and Shay Cook (members of CSST)
information is only a guide for giving first aid to a dog.
It is not intended to replace veterinary care, but to
give FIRST AID until you can get professional help.
This paper is for Search and Rescue dog handlers who are trained to,
at least, in the Advanced First Aid and CPR level. We would like to
share ideas with you about taking responsibility for your canine partner's
health. Learn how to read your dog for signs of a medical problem and
how to make decisions about when to get more advanced medical help if
VALUES FOR YOUR DOG
refill time - less
than 1 second
membrane color - generally pink
- 101 to 102 degrees F
Temperature is taken rectally with an adult rectal thermometer. You
should hold it in place for 1 to 2 minutes. If you get a temperature of
less than 100 degrees F, re-take the temperature to make sure the thermometer
was in place long enough.
rate at rest - young dogs 110 - 120 bpm, large breed adult 60-80 bpm,
small breed adult 80 - 120 bpm
The pulse rate and respiration rate will vary from dog to dog, and
will also vary if the dog is at rest or working. So, it is a good idea
to get normal values for both.
rate - young 20 - 25, adult 14 - 16
- pick up skin and release, it should return within 1 second. Capillary
refill time is measured by pressing on the gums over the canine tooth.
Using one finger, press down firmly until the gums turn white under your
finger and release. You are looking for the time it took for the color
to return. Also, note the color of your dogs gums and mouth. Dogs gum
color can vary from black, pink, reddish brown or any combination of colors.
SIGNS OF SHOCK
a condition resulting from a depressed state of many vital body functions,
caused by a lack of effective circulation. It is a life threatening condition
that is reversible if treated in time. Some causes of shock are; severe
loss of blood, burns, trauma, snake bites, poison, lack of oxygen, or
prolonged vomiting with diarrhea.
of shock include:
stages of shock:
- Pale color
in gums / inside eyelids, capillary refill time greater than 2 seconds
- Dry lips
and gums, dehydration
drooling in some poison cases
- Weak femoral
pulse, rapid 150 to 200 beats per minute
- Cool Extremities
rapid breathing generally over 25 breaths per minute
depression and weakness to the point of not being able to move or becoming
unresponsive or unconscious
refill time greater than 4 seconds
- Body temperature
below 98 degrees F, taken rectally
Insure adequate ventilation
Control any bleeding
Keep dog quiet and calm to prevent further injury
Keep body temperature normal
dog to veterinarian so fluid replacement and medication can be started
dog or an animal in shock may not recognize you. Your own dog may
bite you out of pain or fear. It is very important to talk to the dog
in very soft and reassuring tones. If the dog is having trouble breathing
or panting heavily do not put a muzzle on it. If a muzzle is placed on
the dog it must be monitored at all times and removed at the first sign
of overheating or vomiting. Get help, if possible from someone who can
help hold the dog, so you can do an examination and/or treat the dog.
- Some bleeding
a possibility of infection
remove foreign objects and debris.
May have to cut or clip hair away from area.
Clean wound liberally with water and chlorhexidine or Betadine scrubs
or solutions if available. If not, any soap will be beneficial. Solution
does not have to be rinsed, scrub must be rinsed copiously. (Avoid
using hydrogen peroxide. It can damage tissue.)
lacerations and bleeding
- Can be
- May need
to be sutured by a vet
1. Additional direct pressure 2. Elevation 3. Pressure points
Get professional help right away. Also see the above treatment
wound from further
injury or infection
compression to control bleeding and edema
circulation is maintained to toes, make sure to cushion pads
AND SUSPECTED FRACTURES
- Loss of
use of the limb
shock and bleeding should be controlled first.
Treat dislocation as fracture.
Do not push bone back through skin.
Cover an open fracture with clean dressing.
Limb fracture below elbow or knee apply a Robert Jones bandage from toes
to shoulder or hip.
Unfortunately, there is no agreed upon or standard for first aid for a
fracture of the humerus or femur.
Transport to appropriate facilities ASAP.
of fracture or suspected fracture. (This requires immobilization of
both the joint above and the joint below the fracture)
further injury to surrounding tissue
compression to control bleeding and edema
at the area of the bite
immediate veterinary care. While transporting, immobilize the part of
the animal that has been bitten, keeping below the heart level. A constricting
band may be used, with caution, to impede the spread of the venom. Keep
the animal calm and confined during the transport. If you can identify
the snake species, it may be helpful in treatment.
in the air
you see the stinger, get it out. Cool compression will help alleviate
the sting. Give oral Benadryl (diphenhydramine 2-4mg/kg orally every 8
hours). Seek medical attention if swelling persists/gets worse or if the
sting is near the head/neck/throat area.
- Red mucous
shade, rest the dog, offer small amounts of water. Seek veterinary care
if condition does not improve.
temperature above 105-106 degrees F
red mucous membranes
Get the dog into shade, into a creek if available. Use same precautions
as with human, don't use ice water bath. Slowly cool down the body temperature,
immerse in a cool water bath. Ice can be placed, with caution, under armpits,
head, neck, and groin area, being sure to wrap in cloth first. Monitor
temperature, avoiding cooling too much. Transport to veterinary hospital.
the common terminology for Gastric Dilatation/Torsion. This is most common
in larger - deep chested dogs. Gastric dilatation is the enlargement of
the stomach beyond its normal dimensions. Gastric dilatation volvulus
is when the stomach actually rotates on itself. This is a life
- Dry retching/unproductive
to the veterinary hospital immediately.
To monitor the bloat you can take a measuring tape (webbing or leash could
work) and measure the distance around the dog, just caudal (past) the
last rib. Monitor and make sure it is not enlarging, mark it with a pen
to keep accurate. Prevention
your dog his/her ration of food in, at least, two feedings a day (am/pm).
Avoid giving lots of water at once, offer water more frequently. Avoid
exercise approximately 1-2 hours before and after feeding.
There are many
different types of poisoning, each will affect your dog differently. Many
do not produce immediate symptoms. Find out what your local poison control
number is and call them.
heart, rapid, or weak
Keep 1- 800- 548 - 2423 with you. Do not make the dog vomit if it
is a caustic poison or you do not know what kind of poison the dog has consumed.
Consult poison control or a veterinarian for further instructions.
of poisons and a brief reaction description are:
These rodenticides will cause the dog's blood to stop clotting in hours
or a day. This does not show immediate signs like other poisons. Make
your dog vomit, further veterinary care is necessary for survival. Seek
immediate veterinary care bringing the box of poison with you.
fatal pulmonary edema, seizures, liver or kidney destruction, or severe
hemorrhagic gastroenteritis. If the dog s conscious, induce vomiting,
give Toxiban, collect the product label, and transport to the veterinarian.
signs are more immediate for most of these. General profuse salivation,
stomach pain and cramps, labored reathing, bluish mucous membranes, seizures/convulsions,
rigidity, extended legs and many other signs. IMMEDIATELY SEEK
may not be readily apparent. The dog may actually appear a bit "drunken".
The fatal effect of ethylene glycol occurs hours later and is irreversible
at that point. Immediately rinse the dogs mouth, feet and any other points
of contact. Induce vomiting if conscious and give Toxiban. Transport
immediately to veterinarian.
- Clean off what you can see, do not induce vomiting, transport to vet
- Clean off what you can see, do not induce vomiting, transport to vet
- Remove what you can, induce vomiting, give activated charcoal....do
not give lomotil
plants - Take a sample of the suspected plant to a local veterinarian
- If more than 1 oz/kg of baking chocolate is consumed, or 2 oz/kg of
semi-sweet chocolate, or 4 oz/kg of Milk chocolate, induce vomiting,
give activated charcoal and transport to vet. (Note, the fat content
of some milk chocolate products can cause life threatening pancreatitis)
AND RESCUE BREATHING
The first priority is to establish an unobstructed airway. Open airways
by extending head and neck. Check and remove any foreign materials from
the mouth and pull the tongue forward.
and listen for signs of breathing. If none, place your hands around the
muzzle to prevent air from escaping and breathe forcefully into the nostrils.
The chest should expand and fall if you are getting air into the lungs.
Do not be too forceful with small animals. Rescue breathing should be
given at a rate of 8 to 10 breaths per minute (or one breath every 6 seconds).
there is no pulse, place the dog on a hard surface with its right side
down. Use the heel of your hand to compress the chest on the lower side
immediately behind the elbow. The compression should be firm and not a
sudden blow. It helps to have 2 people; the first gives the cardiac massage,
the second does the breathing. CPR should be given at a rate of 80 to
120 compressions per minute with two ventilations being given every 15
compressions of the chest.
& Electrical Manipulation
and electrical manipulation can only be done by a veterinarian. For the
best chance to save your dog, get to a veterinarian as quickly as possible!
Even if you revive your dog by doing rescue breathing or CPR, take your
dog to a vet for a complete exam.
FIRST AID KIT
This is a
list of equipment and supplies that you will want to carry in your field
first aid kit. The * indicates things that you will need to obtain from
a veterinarian. It's a good idea to talk to your veterinarian and let
him know the kind of work you do with your dog. Remember you want to keep
your field pack as small and light as possible. Carry only the things
that you will need for an emergency. Your car or flight pack is a good
place to carry bulky first aid supplies like extra tape, bandages, and
hemostat / forceps
scissors / emergency shears
3" x 3" gauze sponges
Ace elastic bandage
2" roll gauze / Conform stretch bandage
1" adhesive tape
dressing / Telfa / Release
2" roll Medi-Rip / Vetwrap
Antibiotics (Ampicillin / Tetracycline)
* Topical ointments (Panalog / Tritop / Neomycin / Neosporin)
* Ophthalmic Ointment without steroid (Mycitracin / Terramycin)
* Steroid (Prednisolone)
* Anti-diarrhea medication
* Emetic, to cause the dog to vomit (Apomorphine) The
items in parentheses are only a suggestion. Your Veterinarian may have
you use other drugs or products.
PRE-PLAN FOR WORKING SEARCH DOGS
With Your Veterinarian
Talk to your veterinarian to see if he/she would be available to assist
in an emergency after hours or on weekends. It's important to let them
know the type of work you do with your dog. In the event of an emergency
it might be hours or even a day before you can get your dog to professional
help.Discuss with your veterinarian how they would like you to handle
emergencies such as: hyperthermia, allergic reactions, snake bites, lacerations,
fractures, diarrhea/vomiting and poisoning before you get your dog to
them or the closest vet. Go over the first aid kit and medication ideas.
Are they willing to provide you with some basic drugs and instructions
on how to use them in an emergency? The list of medications is only a
suggestion, each veterinarian will have medications they prefer to use.
Don't make a First Aid kit with things you don't know how to use or what
they are for.If your dog has been injured or treated for an emergency
in the field it is important to call your vet and update him upon your
return. Your vet may recommend a follow up exam and further treatments
or just appreciate being updated.
First Aid Kit
will always be taken with you when you go out in the field. A field first
aid kit is a small to minimum sized kit and only contains things to treat
emergencies in the field. The medications and supplies don't last forever.
Make sure all medications have expiration dates on them. Keep tape in
a plastic bag to avoid its drying out. The most important thing to remember
is that when you use up supplies in your first aid kit, you replace them
First Aid Kit
Make a larger
kit to keep in your car that contains more supplies like dressings, bulky
bandaging supplies, splints, stethoscope, sterile water etc.
Records and Vaccination Certificates
veterinarian for a copy of your dogs records and certificates for vaccinations.
They are very important to have if your dog is being treated for any condition
or has any medical problems. You should carry a copy of your dogs current
values vary from dog to dog, this will be a reference of what is normal
for your dog.
OF COMMON ABBREVIATIONS AND TERMS USED IN VETERINARY MEDICIN
BP blood pressure
BID twice daily
CRT capillary refill time
EOD every other day
HBC hit by car
LRS lactated ringers solution
NSF no significant findings
PCV packed cell volume
PRN as necessary
QD once daily
QOD every other day
RBC red blood cell
SID temperature, pulse, respiration
WBC white blood cell
Alopecia - hair loss
Ataxia - lack of coordination
Capillary - tiny blood vessels connecting arteries with veins
Distal - away from the center
Dorsal - back, posterior
Dyspnea - difficult or labored breathing
Edema - large amounts of fluid in subcutaneous tissues
Emesis - vomit
Gastroenteritis - inflammation of the stomach and intestine
Hematoma - a blood filled swelling
Hydration - to combine with water
Hyperventilation - rapid or deep breathing that over oxygenates
the blood causing dizziness
Jaundice - yellowing of the skin
Lateral - side away from the center
Luxation - dislocation
Otic - relating to the ear
Pancreat - pertaining to the pancreas
Pneumo - pertaining to the lungs
Polydipsia - excess thirst
Polyuria - passage of greater than normal amounts of urine
Proximal - nearer or towards center
Renal - relating to the kidneys
Thoracic - Pertaining to the chest cavity
Ventilation - circulate air to oxygenate blood
Ventral - sternum or belly side
Zoonosis - disease of animals that can be transmitted to humans