I attended a seminar on first aid for dogs hosted at an outdoor supplies shop. It was geared towards hikers like me but full of info every dog owner should know. If anything were to happen to a dog, whether on a trail or at home, it's up to the owner to provide first aid until the dog can reach a vet. If your dog were to get hurt, would you know what immediate care to provide? Here are a few of the tips I got from this seminar that aren't just for hiking.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. When outdoors, letting your dog off-leash is at your own risk: if your dog is running ahead, you don't know if they're sniffing a snake hole, getting into barbed wire, investigating an insect hive, or feasting on a rotting carcass. At best, keep them on a long loose lead, but if you must let your dog off-leash, make sure they respond immediately to recall commands and they are always in sight.
For wounds: Did you know honey is a great natural antibiotic? Carry packets of it with you to put onto a wound and prevent infection. (Those packets are often available at fast-food restaurants that serve biscuits or tea, but make sure it's real honey and not a honey-flavored substitute.) Cover the honey with a bandage to keep your dog from licking it off.
Nail accidents: If your dog's nail gets cut or torn to the quick, it will probably start bleeding. To stop the bleeding, apply corn starch to the nail. Do not do this on any other kinds of wounds.
Reactions to bites: Benadryl helps minimize the effects of snake bites and bee stings. How? The antihistamines in it can prevent a reaction. The vet at this seminar recommended 1 mg of Benadryl per pound of body weight; my vet recommended 1 mg per 2 pounds of body weight. Those dosages are very different. Talk to your vet about what's right for your dog.
Pricker removal: Fine-toothed combs are great for quickly removing cactus spines and other prickers from a dog's skin. Clever use of an every-day item for efficient removal of spines. It's best to remove the spines as quickly as possible. Some dogs will bite at them, much like they bite at other irritations; the spines can prick the inside of their mouths and break off, leaving the sharpest part embedded in their mouth to get infected.
Sprains/Breaks: If your dog has a severe joint injury or break, immobilize one joint above and one joint below the injury until you get the dog to the vet. Wrap gauze in a figure-8 pattern around each joint to hold it in place. This will keep the injured joint from moving without you having handling the injured joint, which could potentially cause pain and more damage.
There was so much more in the hour and a half seminar than I could possibly cover in a single post. If you have a chance to take a class like this, it will be well worth your time. And don't forget to have a canine first aid kit handy - they're not the same as human ones, as you can't bandage a dog the same way as a person. Click here to get your dog first aid kits today.
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Photo by TheGiantVermin