Sick dog

First aid refers to the immediate care you should provide when a dog is injured or ill until a veterinarian can perform further medical treatment. For minor conditions, first aid care may be enough. For other problems, first aid care should be considered as temporary care until your dog is evaluated and treated by the vet.

The main goal when dealing with first aid is to identify the problem, prevent an injury from worsening and keep you and your pet safe during the process. Have a first-aid kit on hand for your dog, and be familiar with its contents. There are many commercially available first aid kits for dogs, but you can also make your own. Include a first aid reference guide in your kit that includes basic instructions. This should include phone numbers for your veterinarian and nearby veterinary emergency clinics. To learn more about the items you should include in your first aid kit, visit

Safety is paramount. Any dog in pain might bite, especially if they’re scared. When approaching the scene, assess the safety of the surroundings and the dog. Remove the pet from any dangers such as heavy automobile traffic.

Always try to place a muzzle on a dog, even your own. When placing it, do so gently and not tightly as to cause discomfort to the dog. If you don’t have a muzzle, you can fashion a makeshift muzzle by tying a leash, shoelace or belt around the mouth.

If possible, wear gloves, especially when dealing with a strange dog. Avoid touching outer contaminated surfaces with ungloved hands. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds after handling any animal, even if you were wearing gloves. If a sink is not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

Any dog with suspected back or pelvic damage should be handled with utmost care to prevent further damage. Placing a stiff wood board or even cardboard under the dog to support lifting or carrying will help stabilize the body.

Calming dog treats can help de-stress your dog but shouldn’t be used as an alternative to exercise, mental stimulation and training. Here's what to consider.

Dr. Jerry Klein is the chief veterinary officer for the AKC.

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