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 AKC.org.
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.
Common injuries and what you can do about them
Minor cuts and scrapes
Clean the injury with an antiseptic wipe or with soap and water. If the skin is broken, apply antibiotic ointment with cotton-tipped applicators and cover with a bandage. Change the dressing daily or if the bandage becomes torn or wet. Once the injury forms a scab, it no longer needs to be covered unless the animal is biting or scratching at it. Watch for signs of infection such as redness or swelling, which would require veterinary care.
Any bite wound that punctures a dog’s skin should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Infection and possible internal damage are not uncommon, and the sooner these wounds are addressed, the better the outcome. Not all wounds are visible at first glance, especially on a furry dog.
When you locate a tick, remove it immediately using a tick remover or tweezers. It’s better to use a tick remover if possible, as tweezers may split the tick and potentially spread disease. Avoid using bare hands, and opt for rubber gloves if possible. After removing the tick, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water.
In case of a limb injury, try to prevent further injury or discomfort. With limping or non-weight-bearing dogs, prevent the dog from moving for at least 15 to 30 minutes. Consider strict cage rest, and re-evaluate your dog after that time has passed. If pain persists or a limb is still non-weight-bearing, seek veterinary care.
Insect bites and bee stings
Start off by icing the affected area. Make a paste of baking soda and water, and apply to dry skin, then wipe off using a small brush or toothbrush. Lastly, consider one dose of Benadryl at 1 milligram per pound. Note: Benadryl comes in 25-milligram tablets. Do not give a dog more than three tablets at once, even giant dogs. Smaller dogs weighing less than 20 pounds can be given Benadryl pediatric drops, also sold over the counter.
Apply a cold compress or ice pack to the injured area for intervals of 10 minutes.
Apply firm yet gentle pressure for up to five minutes so that the blood clots. Seek veterinary care as soon as possible if there is profuse bleeding. Consider applying a tourniquet using a belt or a strip of rag. Pressure must be decreased every 15 minutes.
What not to do
Never give human medication to a dog without first being advised by a veterinarian. Human pain or anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or naproxen is toxic to pets and could cause greater problems or even death.
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.
Calming dog treats can get their antianxiety and de-stressing properties from a range of calming ingredients. These are some of the most common:
- L-tryptophan and theanine: These amino acids are both capable of increasing serotonin in the brain. Serotonin causes feelings of happiness and well-being.
- Passionflower: By slightly boosting the brain’s levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), it can lessen feelings of anxiety in dogs and humans alike.
- Chamomile: Thanks to this flower’s mild calming effects, it may help stressed or anxious dogs to feel calmer.
- Valerian root: This helps most dogs with anxiety, especially those showing compulsive behaviors such as excess chewing and licking.
- Melatonin: A synthesized version of this natural sleep hormone is occasionally added to calming treats for its relaxing effect.
Package size and dosage
It’s important to know both how many calming dog treats you receive in a package and what the correct dosage is for your dog. Only then will you know how much these treats will cost you monthly. For example, if your chosen product contains 100 individual treats in a package and the dosage is one treat per day, a single pack will last you more than three months, but if the dosage is five treats per day, it will only last you 20 days. Of course, big dogs have larger doses than small dogs, so adjust your expectations accordingly.
- Organic: You might choose to buy certified organic calming dog treats if you’re concerned about pesticide use.
- Treat type: Most calming dog treats are small chews or crunchy treats, but you’ll occasionally find other treat types such as calming rawhide-style chews or calming dental treats.
- Grain-free: There’s no need to pay more for grain-free treats unless your dog has a legitimate allergy. In fact, whole grains are excellent for heart health.
- Price: Dog calming treats vary in price from $10 to $50, depending on various factors including package size, active ingredients and overall quality.
Do calming treats work on all dogs?
In theory, calming treats should work equally well on all dogs, but in practice, they seem to work better on some dogs than others. This can vary based on a range of factors including the severity and cause of the dog’s stress or anxiety, the dog’s size, temperament and natural reaction to the calming ingredients in each treat. For the best results, you should pair your chosen calming dog treats with behavioral training.
How quickly do these work?
This depends on your chosen treats. Some start calming your dog down within 30 minutes, whereas others need to be taken daily for a couple of weeks until you see the full calming effect.