One of the scariest things to experience as a dog owner is an emergency medical situation. Even though emergency medical incidents are uncommon, you can feel more in control and increase the chances of your dog surviving if you plan ahead for emergencies. You can prepare for an unexpected situation by learning the Top 9 Things You Should Know That Could Save Your Dog’s Life.
9. Hypothermia and Heatstroke
Dogs are built for the outdoors, but extremes in temperatures may cause dangerous medical emergencies. If your dog was exposed to frigid temperatures for an extended period of time, then he may suffer from hypothermia. Bring your dog in from the cold as soon as possible and dry him off. Wrap him in a blanket to get him warmed up. In fact, you can toss a blanket in the dryer for a few minutes to warm it before putting it on your dog. The gentle heat will feel great. Your dog may be shivering, but don’t be alarmed. That is his body’s natural way to increase heat and blood flow. Take your dog’s temperature. If his temperature is below 98 degrees, then take him immediately to the veterinarian’s office or an animal emergency clinic. Being too cold can be dangerous for your dog, but so can being too hot. If your dog becomes too overheated, then it also created a medical emergency. Heatstroke can come on quickly in some situations, such as a dog that has been left in a car. Signs of heatstroke include panting, rapid heart rate, excessive salivating, and red gums. A dog with heatstroke should receive immediate medical care, but you can help cool him off on the way to the vet’s by wrapping him in a cold, damp towel and offering him plenty of water.
Like humans, some dogs can have extreme allergies. Fortunately, most allergies are easily managed. However, in rare cases, a dog’s immune system may react violently to an allergen, such as a bee sting, sending the dog into anaphylaxis. Anaphylactic shock causes breathing difficulty, loss of consciousness, vomiting, and loss of bowels. The condition can become very deadly, very quickly. For dogs with a history of anaphylaxis, a veterinarian may prescribe an EpiPen, a pre-measured syringe of epinephrine. The medication works quickly to relieve the trigger that is causing the anaphylactic response. According to the Center for Advanced Veterinarian Car, larger dogs, weighing more than 45 pounds, can take a 0.3 mg dose of epinephrine in the EpiPen. Smaller dogs, between 20 and 45 pounds, will need an EpiPen Jr. with a lower dosage. For toy breed dogs under 20 pounds, you will need to discuss options with your veterinarian. You should always carry your dog’s EpiPen with you, especially when you are out of the house. You never know when a bee will attack.
7. Heimlich Maneuver
Dogs sometime try to eat random objects that can become stuck in their throats and block their airway. It is possible to do a version of the Heimlich maneuver on your choking dog. Be careful approaching a choking dog. He may be panicking and will lash out at you out of fear. Once you get ahold of the dog, try to open his mouth by pinching your fingers on either side of his jaw. If you can see the obstruction, then you can try to remove it with your finger. Be extremely careful that you don’t push the obstruction further back. If you are unsuccessful in your attempt to remove the object, then try the doggie Heimlich. For smaller dogs, lift their back legs and apply pressure to the abdomen area just below the ribs. For larger dogs, wrap your arms around them from behind, as you would do to a human who is choking. Make a fist with your hands and push up and forward on the dog’s abdomen in quick thrusts. Be sure to check the dog’s mouth frequently to see of the object has come loose. After the incident is over and your dog is breathing normally, take him to see your local veterinarian, just to be sure that the object didn’t damage your dog’s airway.
6. First Aid Kit
You probably have a first aid kit in your home to help you take care of minor medical emergencies that arise with your family. You should also have one for your dog. You can buy a pre-stocked doggie first aid kit from a pet store or online retailer, or you can put one together yourself. Your doggie first aid kit should contain supplies to bandage a cut or wound, including gauze, alcohol wipes, cotton balls, over-the-counter antibiotic ointment, and adhesive tape. Other equipment to stock in your doggie first aid kit are disposable gloves, tweezers, hydrogen peroxide, mild detergent, clean wash clothes, and an oral syringe. It is also a good idea to have styptic powder and saline eye wash, as well as a collar, leash, and muzzle. Store all of the items in a box, tote, or backpack so it is easy to take with you when you go camping or on road trips.
5. Emergency Care Contact Information
In your cell phone, you should have the name and telephone number of your regular veterinarian, as well as his or her after-hours number. In addition to this information, you should also store the contact information for all nearby emergency animal clinics and emergency veterinarian hospitals. Be sure to include the physical addresses for these places so that you can drive to them quickly in the event of an emergency. Lastly, add in the contact number for Animal Poison Control.
4. Care Credit
You could consider applying for a Care Credit card. Accepted at most veterinarian offices and emergency veterinarian clinics, Care Credit is a credit card that is specifically used for medical emergencies. Naturally, an emergency will arise at a time when you are strapped for cash and most veterinarians and animal hospitals want payment in full at the time of service. A Care Credit card will give you the peace of mind that you will be able to pay for emergency care for your dog if an emergency medical situation arises.
3. Poison Control
Unless you witness your dog eating a household chemical, you may not realize it has happened until your dog shows symptoms of poisoning. Vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive salivating are common signs of poisoning in dogs. Others can include increased heart rate, vomiting blood, excessive thirst, and loss of consciousness. If you suspect that your dog has been poisoned, then you need to act fast. Get your dog to your veterinarian or to an emergency animal clinic as soon as possible. Contact the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661 immediately and follow the instructions that they give you.
2. Mouth-to-Mouth Resuscitation
It is terrifying to see a dog that has stopped breathing. A quick response from you, however, can mean the difference between life and death. You should familiarize yourself with the basics of dog artificial respiration as a new dog owner so you are prepared in case of emergency. You certainly don’t want to learn the technique in the midst of an emergency situation when you may not be thinking clearly. The doggie version of mouth to mouth resuscitation is similar to the technique in humans. You first need to check to see if the dog is breathing on his own by watching his chest rise and fall with each breath. If the dog is not breathing, then you should sweep his mouth for any material that could hinder the mouth to mouth. Completely close the dog’s mouth and hold it closed with your hand. Seal your mouth over your dog’s nostrils and blow in gently. Watch to see if the dog’s chest rises and falls with your breaths. If it doesn’t, then it could indicate that the mouth is not sealed airtight. Give one breath every three seconds, but move back from the dog between each breath so air can return. Mouth-to-mouth is often done in combination with CPR for a dog that is not breathing and has no heart beat. When done with CPR, one breath should be administered for every 15 chest compressions.
If your dog’s heart has stopped beating, then you may be able to save his life by performing CPR on him. Ideally, everyone should learn how to do CPR on both humans and dogs so that they are prepared to help in case of an emergency. To do CPR on your dog, first position him on his right side on a flat, solid surface, like the floor. Move his head and neck to make them as straight as possible and pull his tongue away from the back of his throat. Kneel down at the back of the dog. Put one of your palms on top of the other and find the widest part of the dog’s rib cage near the heart. Push down, keeping your elbows straight, on the rib cage using quick thrusts. Repeat the compression at a fast rate, about 15 per ten seconds. If you are also doing artificial respiration, pause after 15 compressions to do a mouth-to-mouth breath.
As frightening as an emergency situation can be, you will know what steps you need to do to help save your dog’s life if you think ahead and plan ahead for unexpected emergencies. With some forethought and preparation, you just may be able to prevent the emergency from becoming one of the worst days of your life. Learning these Top 9 Things You Should Know That Could Save Your Dog’s Life may give you the knowledge you need to help your dog in distress.