DVM Common Pet EmergenciesDVM-FIRSTAID1

Printable First Aid Information Sheets



Bloat First_Aid_for_Snake_Bites_in_Dogs[1]

Bloat Article Bloat Questionnaire Bloat Questionnaire





By Adela Morris & Shay Cook
This 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, 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 needed. SEE SKELETON OF DOG PICTURE BELOW

Capillary refill time
less than 1 second
Mucous membrane color
generally pink
101 to 102 degrees F
Pulse rate at rest
young dogs 110 – 120 bpm
large breed adult 60-80 bpm
small breed adult 80 – 120 bpm
Respiratory 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.
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.
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.
Shock is 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.
Symptoms of shock include:
•Pale color in gums / inside eyelids, capillary refill time greater than 2 seconds.
•Dry lips and gums, dehydration.
•Excessive drooling in some poison cases.
•Weak femoral pulse, rapid 150 to 200 beats per minute.
•Rapid heart rate.
•Cool Extremities.
•Hyperventilation, rapid breathing generally over 25 breaths per minute.
•Confusion, restless, anxiousness.
•General weakness.
Advanced stages of shock:
•Continued depression and weakness to the point of not being able to move or becoming unresponsive or unconscious.
•Dilated pupils.
•Capillary refill time greater than 4 seconds.
•White mucous membranes.
•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.
Get dog to veterinarian so fluid replacement and medication can be started.
An injured 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.
oUsually minor.
oSome bleeding.
oAlways a possibility of infection.
Carefully 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.)
Major lacerations and bleeding
oCan be life threatening.
oMay need to be sutured by a vet.

Control Bleeding
1. Additional direct pressure
2. Elevation
3. Press points

Get professional help right away. Al see the above treatment for laceration
Bandaging principles
Protect wound from further injury or infection.
Discourage licking.
Restrict movement.
Secure splint.
Prevent weight bearing.
Provide compression to control bleeding and edema.
Verify circulation is maintained to toes, make sure to cushion pads.
Signs and Symptoms
oObvious pain
oLoss of use of the limb
oProtruding bone
oIrregularity or deformity
Remember, 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.
Splinting principles
•Immobilization of fracture or suspected fracture. (This requires immobilization of both the joint above and the joint below the fracture.)
•Decrease pain.
•Prevent shock.
•Prevent further injury to surrounding tissue.
•Provide compression to control bleeding and edema.
oSalivation, thirsty
oSwelling at the area of the bite
Seek 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.
oSwelling and redness
oPawing at face
oSnapping in the air
If you see the stinger, get it out. Cool compression will help alleviate the sting. Give oral benedryl (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.
oCirculatory collapse
oRed mucous membrane (gums)
oExcessive panting
Seek shade, rest the dog, offer small amounts of water. Seek veterinary care if condition does not improve.
oExcessive panting
oRectal temperature above 105-106 degrees F
oRapid pulse/breathing
oBrick 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.
Bloat is 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 threatening situation.
oDry retching/unproductive vomit
oDistended abdomen (hardened)
oDrooling excessively
Take 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.
Feed 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.
oBreathing difficulty
oUnusual actions
oDigestive upset
oIrregular heart, rapid, or weak

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. 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.
Types of poisons and a brief reaction description are:
•Anti Coagulant Rodenticides

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.
•Other Rodenticides
Sodium Floro-acetate (1080)
Zinc Phosphide

May cause fatal pulmonary edema, seizures, liver or kidney destruction, or severe hemorrhagic gastroenteritis. If the dog is conscious, induce vomiting, give Toxiban, collect the product label, and transport to the veterinarian.
Chlorinated Hydrocarbons
The signs are more immediate for most of these. General profuse salivation, stomach pain and cramps, labored breathing, bluish mucous membranes, seizures/convulsions, rigidity, extended legs and many other signs. IMMEDIATELY SEEK VETERINARY CARE.

Signs 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.
•Miscellaneous poisons
Toxic plants
Acid – Clean off what you can see, do not induce vomiting, transport to vet.
Alkalies – Clean off what you can see, do not induce vomiting, transport to vet.
Garbage – Remove what you can, induce vomiting, give activated charcoal….do not give lomotil.
Toxic plants – Take a sample of the suspected plant to a local veterinarian.
Chocolate – 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).

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.
Look 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).

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
If 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.

Drugs & Electrical Manipulation
Drugs 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.
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 roll cotton.
hemostat / forceps
scissors / emergency shears
safety pins
3″ x 3″ gauze sponges
Ace elastic bandage
triangular bandage
2″ roll gauze / Conform stretch bandage
Sam splint
1″ adhesive tape
exam gloves
non-adhering dressing / Telfa / Release
2″ roll Medi-Rip / Vetwrap
Betadine solution
Sting ease
K-Y jelly
Benadryl (2-4mg/kg)
* 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.
Meet 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.
Field First Aid Kit
This 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 ASAP.
Car 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.
Medical Records and Vaccination Certificates
Ask your 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 vaccinations.
Because normal values vary from dog to dog, this will be a reference of what is normal for your dog. Please print and complete and put in your First Aid Kit for reference.
BP blood pressure
BID twice daily
CRT capillary refill time
DX diagnosis
EOD every other day
FX fracture
HBC hit by car
IM intramuscular
IV intravenous
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
RX prescription
SID temperature, pulse, respiration
TX treatment
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
All of the information above came from

CPR First Aid

Pets and Heat

Living in Las Vegas we have to be very careful of heat conditions and our pets.

We would like to help your pets by giving you some great tips.  The following photograph contains what can happen to your pets paws from walking on the hot ground.

Burnt Paws

Try walking your dog while you are barefoot… if the asphalt is too hot for you to walk barefoot then it is too hot for your pets paws.

The damage will not only be very painful to your pet but they will have to visit animal hospital for treatment.  You usually will have to take your pet every three days to have their bandages changed and this could go on for about a month.

Animals need their limbs to walk.  Humans can use crutches if we get hurt but pets need their legs to get around.  It is extremely painful to walk on burnt paws.  This can also cost your family a lot of money that could have gone to fun things for your pets.

Booties can be a little expensive but in the long run it will help keep your dog safe and your family their money 🙂  You can also look into purchasing booties for your pets to wear.

photos © Ben Moon 2010

Check out At Your Service Pet Supplies Cooling Pet Product Supplies. (702) 982-4324

Cool Coats, Frozen Yoghund, Doggles, Cool-it Bandanas, Aussie Boots, Frosty Bowlz, & Kong Freeze Trays.

You can also check out the other great Pet Friendly Businesses that help our local animal rescue groups.

Nevada Laws for “Leaving a Pet Cat or Dog Unattended in a Motor Vehicle” (NRS 574.195)

Hot Weather Tips From ASPCA

We all love spending the long, sunny days of summer outdoors with our furry companions, but being overeager in hot weather can spell danger, ASPCA experts warn.
“Most people love to spend the warmer days enjoying the outdoors with friends and family, but it is important to remember that some activities can be dangerous for our pets,” said Dr. Camille DeClementi, Senior Toxicologist at the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center. “By following a few simple rules, it is easy to keep your pet safe while still having fun in the sun.”Take these simple precautions, provided by ASPCA experts, to help prevent your pet from overheating. And if you suspect your pet is suffering from heat stroke, get help from your veterinarian immediately.Visit the Vet 
A visit to the veterinarian for a spring or early summer check-up is a must. Make sure your pets get tested for heartworm if they aren’t on year-round preventive medication. Do parasites bug your animal companions? Ask your doctor to recommend a safe flea and tick control program.Made in the Shade
Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it’s hot outdoors. Make sure your pets have a shady place to get out of the sun, be careful to notover-exercise them, and keep them indoors when it’s extremely hot.Know the Warning Signs 
Symptoms of  overheating in pets include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. They can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees. Animals with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with the elderly, the overweight, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.No Parking!
Never leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle. “On a hot day, a parked car can become a furnace in no time-even with the windows open-which could lead to fatal heat stroke,” says Dr. Louise Murray, Vice President of ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital. Also, leaving pets unattended in cars in extreme weather is illegal in several states.Make a Safe Splash
Do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool-not all dogs are good swimmers. Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices when on boats. Rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from his fur, and try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals that could cause stomach upset.Screen Test 
“During warmer months, the ASPCA sees an increase in injured animals as a result of High-Rise Syndrome, which occurs when pets-mostly cats-fall out of windows or doors and are seriously or fatally injured,” says Dr. Murray. “Pet owners need to know that this is completely preventable if they take simple precautions.” Keep all unscreened windows or doors in your home closed and make sure adjustable screens are tightly secured.Summer Style
Feel free to trim longer hair on your dog, but never shave your dog: The layers of dogs’ coats protect them from overheating and sunburn. Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat. And be sure that any sunscreen or insect repellent product you use on your pets is labeled specifically for use on animals.Street Smarts 
When the temperature is very high, don’t let your dog linger on hot asphalt. Being so close the ground, your pooch’s body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn. Keep walks during these times to a minimum.Avoid Chemicals 
Commonly used flea and tick products, rodenticides (mouse and rat baits), and lawn and garden insecticides can be harmful to cats and dogs if ingested, so keep them out of reach. When walking your dog, steer clear of areas that you suspect have been sprayed with insecticides or other chemicals. Keep citronella candles, oil products and insect coils out of pets’ reach as well. Call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 if you suspect your animal has ingested a poisonous substance.Party Animals
Taking Fido to a backyard barbeque or party? Remember that the food and drink offered to guests may be poisonous to pets. Keep alcoholic beverages away from pets, as they can cause intoxication, depression and comas. Similarly, remember that the snacks enjoyed by your human friends should not be a treat for your pet; any change of diet, even for one meal, may give your dog or cat severe digestive ailments. Avoid raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener xylitol.Fireworks Aren’t Very Pet-riotic
Please leave pets at home when you head out to Fourth of July celebrations, and never use fireworks around pets. Exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns or trauma to curious pets, and even unused fireworks can be hazardous. Many types of fireworks contain potentially toxic substances such as potassium nitrate, copper, chlorates, arsenic and other heavy metals.

Heat Stroke and Dehydration in Dogs

Heat stroke is an emergency and requires immediate treatment. Because dogs do not sweat (except to a minor degree through their foot pads), they do not tolerate high environmental temperatures as well as humans do. Dogs depend upon panting to exchange warm air for cool air. But when air temperature is close to body temperature, cooling by panting is not an efficient process.
  • Common situations that can set the stage for heat stroke in dogs include:
  • Being left in a car in hot weather
  • Exercising strenuously in hot, humid weather
  • Being a brachycephalic breed, especially a Bulldog, Pug, or Pekingese
  • Suffering from a heart or lung disease that interferes with efficient breathing
  • Being muzzled while put under a hair dryer
  • Suffering from a high fever or seizures
  • Being confined on concrete or asphalt surfaces
  • Being confined without shade and fresh water in hot weather
  • Having a history of heat stroke

Heat stroke begins with heavy panting and difficulty breathing. The tongue and mucous membranes appear bright red. The saliva is thick and tenacious, and the dog often vomits. The rectal temperature rises to 104° to 110°F (40° to 43.3°C). The dog becomes progressively unsteady and passes bloody diarrhea. As shocksets in, the lips and mucous membranes turn gray. Collapse, seizures, coma, and death rapidly ensue.

Recommended Related to Dogs

Rabies in Dogs

   Rabies is a virus that may affect the brain and spinal cord of all mammals, including dogs, cats and humans. Though preventable, there is good reason that the word “rabies” evokes fear in people. The disease has been reported in every state except Hawaii, and everywhere throughout the world except for Australia and Antarctica. Annually, rabies causes the deaths of more than 50,000 humans and millions of animals worldwide. Once symptoms appear, the disease results in fatality.

Read the Rabies in Dogs article > >

Treatment: Emergency measures to cool the dog must begin at once. Move the dog out of the source of heat, preferably into an air-conditioned building. Take his rectal temperature every 10 minutes. Mild cases may be resolved by moving the dog into a cool environment.

If the rectal temperature is above 104°F, begin rapid cooling by spraying the dog with a garden hose or immersing him in a tub of cool water (not ice water) for up to two minutes. Alternatively, place the wet dog in front of an electric fan. Cool packs applied to the groin area may be helpful, as well as wiping his paws off with cool water. Monitor his rectal temperature and continue the cooling process until the rectal temperature falls below 103°F (39°C). At this point, stop the cooling process and dry the dog. Further cooling may induce hypothermia and shock.

Following an episode of heat stroke, take your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Heat stroke can be associated with laryngeal edema. This seriously worsens the breathing problem and may require an emergency tracheostomy. An injection of cortisone before the onset of respiratory distress may prevent this problem.

Other consequences of hyperthermia include kidney failure, spontaneous bleeding, irregular heartbeat, and seizures. These complications can occur hours or days later.


Dehydration occurs when a dog loses body fluids faster than he can replace them. Dehydration usually involves the loss of both water and electrolytes. In dogs, the most common causes of dehydration are severe vomiting and diarrhea. Dehydration can also be caused by inadequate fluid intake, often associated with fever and severe illness. A rapid loss of fluids also occurs with heat stroke.

A prominent sign of dehydration is loss of skin elasticity. When the skin along the back is pulled up, it should spring back into place. In a dehydrated animal, the skin stays up in a ridge.

Another sign of dehydration is dryness of the mouth. The gums, which should be wet and glistening, become dry and tacky. The saliva is thick and tenacious. In an advanced case, the eyes are sunken and the dog exhibits signs of shock, including collapse.

Treatment: A dog who is visibly dehydrated should receive immediate veterinary attention, including intravenous fluids, to replace fluids and prevent further loss.

For mild dehydration, if the dog is not vomiting you can give him an electrolyte solution by bottle or syringe into the cheek pouch. Balanced electrolyte solutions for treating dehydration in children, such as Ringer’s lactate with 5 percent dextrose in water or Pedialyte solution, are available at drugstores and are also suitable for dogs. Gatorade is another short-term substitute to help replace fluids. Administer the solution at a rate of 2 to 4 ml per pound (1 to 2 ml per kilo) of body weight per hour, depending on the severity of the dehydration (or as directed by your veterinarian).


For more information about caring for your pet family please visit the website.


or Visit our Pet First Aid section.

Please also remember to be careful what to feed your pets.  Visit our Pet Diet & Health Information section.



Pet Fire Safety


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