Basic Canine First Aid
For all pet accidents, injuries or illness it is wise to seek the advice of your vet. The following is given as a guidance to initial first aid only. Vet bills can be expensive so it is good practice to have your dog insured.
Traffic Accidents A traffic accident is probably the most common cause of serious injury to a cat or dog. Always approach the animal with caution, it may react aggressively because of the pain. Move the dog as little as possible, but if you must move it, it is probably best to use a blanket, sliding it underneath the dog. Seek the assistance of another person and lift the dog gently to safety. Check for heartbeat and any haemorrhaging. Attempt to stem excessive bleeding by holding a clean pad or clean handkerchief over the wound, binding it tightly with a makeshift bandage. Call the nearest vet's surgery to warn of your arrival.
Burns The only recommended first aid is to clean off the offending substance and immerse the body part under cold running water for as long as possible. Seek professional advice immediately.
Heat Stroke This occurs most commonly when a dog has been left alone on a hot day without ventilation. If your dog has not already collapsed it may be panting, vomiting or frothing at the mouth. Remove froth and lower the dog's temperature as soon as possible by placing or dousing the animal in cold water. Take the dog to the vet immediately where it will be treated with drugs and more cold water.
Poisoning Signs of poisoning may include collapse, muscular twitching, vomiting, bleeding or convulsion. Do not hesitate to contact the vet. Take some of the noxious substance to the vet with you if you know what it is. If the dog has recently swallowed the poison, try to make it vomit. methods are a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water. Mix the regular Chemist strength of hydrogen peroxide (3%) with an equal part of water, but do not attempt to pour it down your dog's throat, as that could cause inhalation pneumonia. Instead, simply pull the dog's lips away from the side of his mouth, making a pocket for depositing the liquid. Use at least a tablespoon of the mixture for every ten pounds of your dog's weight. Once the mixture has been given, he will begin to vomit in about two minutes. When his stomach has settled, give him a teaspoon of Epsom salts in a little water, as this will empty the intestines quickly. The hydrogen peroxide, on ingestion, becomes oxygen and water and is harmless to your dog; it is one of the best antidotes for phosphorus, which is often used in rat poisons. After you have administered this treatment to your pet and his stomach and bowels have been emptied, rush him to your veterinarian for further care.
Other methods are Salt and mustard in water, or a small piece of washing soda (sodium carbonate pushed down the throat.See the more extensive articles on poisons below.
Drowning It is a popular misconception that all dogs can swim, but this is not always the case. You must attempt to empty the dog's lungs of water as soon as possible. Place the dog's head lower than its body, open its mouth and begin to pump the chest by pressing down on the ribs and releasing the pressure immediately. Repeat at five-second intervals.
Choking Sometimes a piece of stick, bone or small rubber ball may get stuck in a dog's throat. Your dog may be unable to breath as a result and swift action is necessary. Open the dog's mouth carefully and see if you can see the object. Pumping the chest, as in the case of drowning (see above) may dislodge the foreign body, get your dog to the vet as soon as possible where the object can be removed under anaesthetic.
COURTESY Collins Dog Photoguide
There are many products that can prove fatal if ingested by your dog. These include, human medicines, cigarettes & cigars, chocolate, house plants and many others everyday items. The best way to avoid your pet from being poisoned would be to lock away anything that you would from a two year old child. However accidents do happen, and even if you are not sure if your dog has actually swallowed any of a product it is always better to be safe and seek veterinary advice. If you still have the container or packaging of the poison, check the label to see if there is a recommended antidote and take this with you to the vets.
As different poisons act in different ways they require different treatments. Inducing vomiting may help with some but there are other poisons where inducing vomiting may cause more harm than good. Unless you are 100% sure - take your dog straight to your vets.
When not to induce vomiting If you know your dog has swallowed an acid, alkali, petrol, or kerosene. In which case diluted milk may help.
How to induce vomiting Giving your dog a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water can induce vomiting. Mix the regular Chemist strength of hydrogen peroxide (3%) with an equal part of water, but do not attempt to pour it down your dog's throat, as that could cause inhalation pneumonia. Instead, simply pull the dog's lips away from the side of his mouth, making a pocket for depositing the liquid. Use at least a tablespoon of the mixture for every ten pounds of your dog's weight. Once the mixture has been given, he will begin to vomit in about two minutes. When his stomach has settled, give him a teaspoon of Epsom salts in a little water, as this will empty the intestines quickly. The hydrogen peroxide, on ingestion, becomes oxygen and water and is harmless to your dog; it is one of the best antidotes for phosphorus, which is often used in rat poisons. After you have administered this treatment to your pet, rush him to your veterinarian for further care. (If you have any doubts it is best to seek veterinary advice first.)
Your speed at realizing your dog may have been poisoned will prove vital if it is to be treated successfully. Try to think exactly where you and your dog have been in the last 48 hours. At any time was your dog on it's own ? Have you been on a walk in the countryside? Did your dog pick up anything such as a stick or a dead animal? Did your dog drink from a puddle or some other water source? Of course, it isn't always possible to know how, where or when your dog may have been poisoned, so one of the best ways in aiding your dog is to recognise as soon as possible the symptoms of a dog that has been subjected to toxins.
Some forms of poisoning have a rapid effect, many need urgent treatment within the first 48 hours. Others may take a slower time to take effect but are none the less lethal. A list of common symptoms associated with poisoning is: Vomiting * Muscle Spasms * Collapse *Excessive drinking * Twitching *Bleeding *Convulsions *Oral or nasal foaming *Ulceration of the mouth *Excessive panting *Lethargy *Dilated pupils *Whining/Crying If your dog shows any or a combination of these symptoms contact your vet immediately. Sometimes if our dogs have contaminated their paws or coat, they tend to lick or groom themselves and ingest the poison. It may also be absorbed through the skin. It is important to rinse your dog's skin, eyes, mouth or face, and paws to remove any poisonous substance that they may have been exposed to, as soon as possible. Remember: Puppies are especially at risk, due to their tendency to chew and inquisitive nature in discovering new things.
Antifreeze (Ethylene Glycol) Is normally used in car radiators in the winter. Unfortunately, poisoning with antifreeze is quite common, as it has a sweet taste and any spilled may be licked up by dogs in quantities sufficient to cause extreme sickness and can often be fatal. Damage is usually done to the kidneys. If you are storing antifreeze in a garage or shed: Keep the containers sealed tightly and well out of reach of your dog. Clear up any spillages immediately.Clinical Signs: Depression * Restlessness * Incoordination * Convulsions * Coma *
Death Berries Berries that are commonly found in your garden may be poisonous to a dog. Plants that produce berries may be attractive to any dog, especially puppies. Mistletoe * Holly *Laburnum * are a few plants that may be poisonous to any pets. Bulbs Such as daffodils and snowdrops are also potentially poisonous to a dog. Be aware of newly planted bulbs and dogs that enjoy landscaping the garden. If bulbs are stored in greenhouses or sheds, keep your dog away from these.
Bee Stings A dog which has been stung from a bee occasionally may go into anaphylactic shock and collapse. As with people, some dogs may have an allergic reaction to the sting. In which case immediate veterinary attention is required. Likewise if the tongue is stung it will need veterinary treatment to help reduce the amount of swelling, as this could block the animal's airways. More common areas (especially) where a dog might be stung is the mouth and nose, due to the dog trying to catch the insects or the paws, while there are playing with a drowsy bee. If the bee sting is still present you may be able to try and remove it, with a pair of tweezers along with applying some antihistamine cream. If your dog is stung in the mouth bathe the area with a diluted solution of sodium bicarbonate. If the sting came from a wasp then bathe with diluted vinegar. (An easy way to remember is: - B for Bee for Bicarb, V for Vasp for Vinegar.) It is extremely important to observe the area incase of any swelling that can occur. If you need more advice contact your vet for help and in cases where a dog is showing signs of pain or distress veterinary treatment is recommended. Clinical Signs: Vomiting *Diarrhea *Swellings *Respiratory difficulties *Collapse *In some cases death
Carbon Monoxide A poisonous gas which can be found emitted from car exhaust fumes or heating appliances such as household fires, calor gas heaters, solid fuel heating systems which often are found in rooms with poor ventilation. Carbon monoxide poisoning does not just effect animals, the whole family could be at risk. Although dogs and other animals are the most likely to be effected due to being left for longer periods in confined spaces. In order to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, check that all appliances are regularly serviced and rooms are well ventilated. Never leave a dog even for a short period of time confined in garages or sheds. Clinical Signs Weakness *Collapse *Blindness/deafness *Difficulty in breathing *Blue-ish mucous membrane (The colour of the gums are normally a healthy pink) *Coma * And death
Chocolate Dogs are particularly sensitive to a class of chemicals called methylxanthines. Theobromine and caffeine all belong to this family. Dogs cannot metabolise and excrete these compounds as efficiently as humans. These compounds, once swallowed are taken up by the liver, transmitted back to the small intestine and converted back to the original methylxanthines. After which, they take another trip around the body. This is repeated a number of times, so instead of getting rid of the compounds (as a human being does) the dog will just keep poisoning itself. The difficulty is that there are many different formulations of chocolate, from sweet milk chocolate, which is the mildest form to the dark bitter chocolate, commonly produced for the continental market, but increasingly consumed in the UK. A lethal amount of sweet milk chocolate is said to be around two ounces to every Kg in bodyweight. For example: A dog weighing 22lb the lethal amount would be around 20 ounces. Dark bitter chocolate is considered to be about ten times as toxic, so a 22lb dog could actually die from as little as 2 ounces of dark chocolate. Although many people are aware of this fact, there are many others that are unaware and still others who have been given the facts but choose to ignore them. We have all heard someone say "I've given my dogs chocolate for years and they've never come to any harm". They may not have done, as they've probably been given a small amount of milk chocolate but what it has done is give the dog a taste for it and who knows when they may find a bar of dark chocolate? It comes as no great surprise that Easter and Christmas are times when many dogs are at risk, especially when family members visit and often give titbits to a dog, or dogs are left alone to consume any left out chocolates. Clinical Signs: Vomiting *Hyperactivity *Restlessness *Hypersensitivity when touched (A dog will jump on touch) *A raised rapid respiration and heartbeat *Muscle Tremors *Seizures *Weakness *Coma *And death
Cigars and Cigarettes The nicotine in cigars and cigarettes can prove toxic to a dog. It is important to remember that all leftovers and butts are appropriately disposed of. Keep all packets well out of reach. The very thought of eating the leftover parts of cigarettes to most (if not all) people sounds repulsive but to many dogs it is most appealing and some dogs have been known to eat an ashtray full of them. It is possible for a dog to become addicted to nicotine. Clinical Signs: Dribbling and Vomiting *May have diarrhoea and show signs of abdominal pain *After a length of time, their muscles might become weak *Twitching and convulsions *Even resulting in death
Cooking oil/fat Cooking oil and fat which has been overheated may poison a dog if they consume it. Unfortunately, many dogs find the oil\fat extremely palatable and they do not know it can poison them. Deep fat fryers, which have not been emptied or cleaned, can be a dangerous source. If you do save any oil or fat in another container, store it well out of reach from your dog. Clinical Signs: High temperature/fever *Difficulty in breathing *Blue tinge coloured gums *Collapse and possible death
Detergents and Disinfectants Detergents have a large range of compounds, normally used for domestic and commercial use (household cleaners) and can include a range of product such as: bleaches, toilet cleaners (do not allow your dog to drink from your toilet, - many will try), detergents and caustics, all these compounds are corrosive and contain either acids or alkalis which are dangerous as they will destroy tissues upon contact. These compounds will dissolve through tissue membranes and are then absorbed into the bloodstream which, as well as causing local tissue damage or injury, causes general illness to a variety of body systems. Depending on the substance injury can occur from a mild irritation (many washing powder detergents) to severe internal disease (pine oils and others). It is recommended to flush the affected area with warm water to rinse the chemical away and also seek urgent veterinary treatment.
Flea products Dog owners, trying to prevent and eradicate the infestation of fleas from dogs and our homes, spend millions of pounds every year. Most flea products will not cause any real problems if you use them in accordance with the manufactures instructions on the label. It is important however, that problems can arise if more than the stated dose is given. It is recommended that you follow the instructions on the label carefully. Clinical Signs: Excessive dribbling *Vomiting and diarrhoea *Loss of appetite *Depression If any of these signs are observed stop using the product and seek veterinary advice. You may find it helps to bathe your dog with warm water as this can help to remove the product from the your dog's coat and skin.
Fungicides It is best to keep dogs away from any areas where these substances are being used. If you keep any of these substance stored, make sure to store them in sealed containers and do not allow your dog access to an open container. By keeping fresh drinking water available at all times may prevent the your dog from finding alternative sources to drink to quench their thirst. Also keep your dog's coat clean and free from any of these compounds, remember take care to wash off, any detergent that is used to remove the poison. As many dogs have been poisoned from licking the detergent used to wash off the original poison. The most common cause of fungicide poisoning is from wallpaper paste! So take care, when decorating.
Houseplants There are many plants including houseplants, which are potentially poisonous to dogs. Preventing them from eating plants is the best deterrent. The best advice is to contact your vet if you are concerned if your dog has eaten them. Listed below are some of the more common ones: Amaryllis *Autumn Crocus *Bleeding heart *Bloodroot *Caster oil plant (very dangerous) *Dumbcane (very dangerous) * Flower Bulbs of any kind *Foxglove *Jerusalem Cherry *Larkspur *Lily of the valley * Mistletoe (extremely dangerous) *Mushrooms (any wild fungi you cannot safely identify) *Rhuburb * Stinging nettles *Thornapple or jimson weed (very dangerous) * Virginia Creeper Not only are plants & flowers poisonous, it is important to remember not to allow your dog to chew on leaves, wood or branches from any of the following trees or shrubs: Azalea *Box *Cherry laurel (very dangerous) *Chinaberry tree *Hemlock (very dangerous) *Horsechestnut *Ivy-both leaves & berries (very dangerous) *Laburnum *Oleander (very dangerous) *Privet *Rhododendron *Wisteria *Yew Clinical Signs Vomitting *Diarrhoea *Dribbling *Drowsiness *Trembling *Abdominal pains *Weakness *Breathing difficulties *Collapse *Possibly death cause by heart failure The best advice is to seek treatment from your vet.
Insecticides (flea collars, concentrated washes, shampoos, sprays containing organophosphates and carbonamates). These compounds will have an affect in disrupting the nervous system; they cause an excess of the chemical acetylchlorine to accumulate in the body, which in turn affects the normal transmitting of nerves. Poisoning occurs most commonly when a dog eats a flea collar or licks insecticide off it's coat. Clinical Signs Carbamates: Agitation *Restlessness *Twitching *Salivation *Convulsions *Coma Organophosphates: Hind leg weakness *Breathing difficulties *Muscle tremors *Salivation *Increased urinating/defecating If you suspect your dog have been in contact with insecticides the best things to do: 1. Provide first aid according to the needs of your dog. 2. If consumed, induce vomitting and give activated charcoal. 3. If there is skin contact, wash off remaining insecticide with soapy water. (Wear rubber gloves to protect yourself from any exposure.) 4. Along with immediate veterinary help.
Lead Small animals sometimes are occasionally seen with clinical signs of lead poisoning. There are two types of lead poisoning; if a large quantity has been swallowed, clinical signs will be present relatively quickly and those that have ingested small quantities of lead over a long period of time may not show signs straight away. Lead can be found in such things as old toys (painted with older paint containing lead), curtain weights, lead shot, batteries or motor oil/linseed oil these are all potential sources of lead poisoning for a dog that enjoys chewing. Clinical Signs Initial vomitting, diarrhoea and abdominal pains *Later nervousness and hysteria *Fear of light, incoordination *Staggering *Paralysis The best advice would be to: 1. Induce vomitting if lead has just been eaten. 2. Seek veterinary treatment especially if later signs of lead poisoning have developed. As blood tests accurately diagnose lead poisoning, and your veterinarian will treat with specific drugs.
Medicines - for human or animal use The most common of these are Aspirin and Paracetamol. Poisoning occurs mostly as a result of a dog being given any of these to relieve pain. It is advisable never to give a dog your own medicine, as this may result in over dosing which can be fatal. The better way to prevent your dog from being poisoned would be to ensure, all medicines are out of reach, and return any out of date/ unused medicines to your veterinary or pharmacist. Clinical signs: Lack of appetite *Depression *Abdominal cramp *Vomitting (maybe with blood) *incoordination Things to do: 1. Induce vomitting with baking soda crystals; this also counteracts the poisoning effect of aspirin/ paracetamol. 2. Give no other medicines. 3. Contact your veterinarian for further advice.
Rodent Poison With so many different types of rodenticide that are available, it's advisable to save any containers/packaging. This way you will be able to check to find out the chemical name of the poison. Your dog may have been poisoned by the bait itself or by eating the poisoned rodent. Warfarin - Clinical signs: Vomitting *Lethargy *Signs of internal bleeding *Pale gums and signs of shock *Bruising to the skin Things to do: 1. If your dog has just eaten warfarin, try to induce vomitting then give activated charcoal by mouth. 2. If your dog is showing any of the signs of poisoning, keep the dog warm; treat for shock and if you still have them take a sample of the poison and the packaging to your veterinarian as soon as possible. Your vet can administer vitamin K, by injection; this is a specific antidote for warfarin poisoning. 3. It is important to remember that warfarin is especially dangerous to smaller dogs and it can be fatal.
Strychnine - the clinical signs: A panic/worried look *Tenseness and stiffness leading to convulsions It can be fatal within one hour The best advice would be: 1. To induce vomitting but only if breathing is regular and then give activated charcoal. 2. Most of all seek veterinary treatment immediately.
Sodium Fluoroacetate - the clinical signs: Initial excitement followed by depression *Convulsions *Vomitting *Urinating and repeated bowel motions Things to do: 1. Induce vomitting and give activated charcoal by mouth 2. Keep your dog warm. 3. Seek veterinary advice/treatment immediately.
Slug and Snail Bait - Metaldehyde Many dogs enjoy the taste of metaldehyde and are willing to eat it. As with many others this can be fatal. Clinical signs: Tremors *Salivation *Convulsions *Coma Things to do: 1. If recently swallowed, induce vomitting with soda crystals, 3% hydrogen peroxide or a ball of salt. 2. Do not allow your dog to get overheated. 3. Seek veterinary treatment as soon as possible, treatment many involve prolonged anaesthia.
IN ALL CASES, DON'T PANIC. FOR YOUR DOG'S SAKE TRY TO STAY CALM AND REASSURING.
Courtesy The Dogshow Website
Poisonous To Your Pet
Acetaminophen ( Panadol Paracetamol Analgesics etc.)
Bleach Boric Acid
Nail Polish and Remover
Permanent Wave Lotion
Snail or Slug Bait
Windshield Washer Fluid
It is difficult to give concise information about plant toxicity's as there are hundreds of plants that are potentially poisonous to animals. While many people seem to think poinsettias, ivy and mistletoe are dangerous plants, and while these plants have toxic potential, they seldom cause serious clinical signs if eaten.
It is worth noting here that dogs and cats often vomit after chewing on plants; this probably does not represent "poisoning" or any dangerous exposure. Only severe or persistent vomiting is a danger sign in small animals.
Sporadic vomiting without accompanying signs of illness (for instance, diarrhoea, depression, loss of appetite) is rarely a cause for worry, whether associated with plant ingestion or not. The best advice, however, is to contact your veterinarian if you have specific concerns. Other Plants to Watch out For:
Aconite - All parts
Alocasia - All parts
Amaryllis, esp. the bulb - Induce vomiting, give lots of water, get to vet.
Anemone - All parts
Angel's trumpet - Varied toxic effects.
Almond - May cause vomiting, abdominal, and in some cases, diarrhoea.
Apple - Seeds (large quantities) -Get to vet immediately.
Apricot - Seeds (large quantities) - May cause vomiting, abdominal, and in some cases, diarrhoea. Get to vet immediately.
Arrow grasses - Leaves. Arrowhead vine - Irritates mouth, throat, tongue and lips.
Asparagus Fern - May cause vomiting, cramping, tremors as well as other problems.
Atropa belladonna - All parts.
Autumn Crocus - Bulbs.
Avocado - Leaves and stems.
Azalea - All parts - May cause vomiting, cramping, tremors as well as other problems.
Balsam Pear - May cause vomiting, abdominal, and in some cases, diarrhoea.
Baneberry - All parts.
Belladonna - All parts.
Bird of paradise - All parts - May cause vomiting, cramping, tremors and other problems. Induce vomiting, give lots of water, get to vet.
Bittersweet - Leaves, unripe fruit, stem - May cause vomiting and diarrhoea.
Black-eyed Susan - All parts.
Black locust - May cause vomiting, abdominal, and in some cases, diarrhoea. EXTREMELY TOXIC -induce vomiting, give lots of water, RUSH YOUR PET TO THE VET
Black Nightshade - Berries.
Bleeding heart - Foliage and roots.
Boston Ivy - Irritates mouth, throat, tongue and lips.
Box - Leaves and twigs - Induce vomiting, give lots of water, get to vet
Buckeye - All parts - May cause vomiting, abdominal, and in some cases, diarrhoea
Animal poisoning by drugs is by far the most common type of small animal poison exposure, accounting for up to 75% of toxin exposures. Dogs and, less frequently, cats, can be poisoned by human or veterinary drugs as a result of accidental ingestion or overdose just like children can; it is worth emphasising that all medications should be placed out of reach of inquisitive noses which are too often attached to undiscriminating mouths!
This section focuses on those medications which are too frequently given by well-intentioned owners for the purpose of relieving discomfort experienced by the animal and which instead can cause a much more serious problem for the pet. Human over-the-counter pain relievers are occasionally used in veterinary medicine for pain relief but they should only be given upon specific advice and direction of a veterinarian.
Pain relievers, or analgesics, are not designed for use by cats and dogs and a minimal human dose can poison a pet. Cats and dogs do not utilise and tolerate drugs in the same way people do and human drugs should NEVER be assumed to be safe for animals. ACETAMINOPHEN which includes "Panadol" and "Paracetamol" and is, of course, the human over-the-counter analgesic medicine used to relieve pain..after the pills are taken, the ingredients are broken down in the body by enzymes in the liver. In people, Panadol and Paracetamol and any other Analgesics are generally a safe and a very useful painkiller. Cats, however, have less of the enzyme required to detoxify the drugs following ingestion. As a result, there are many dangerous metabolites, or breakdown products of Acetaminophen that bind to red blood cells and other tissue cells, resulting in the destruction of these cells. There may also be direct damage to tissue cells from the painkiller. As little as one regular strength tablet (325 mg) can poison a cat to the degree that it can develop noticeable clinical signs of illness. Two extra-strength tablets are likely to kill a cat. Dogs (particularly small dogs) are also susceptible to significant tissue damage from as little as two regular strength Panadol or Paracetamol and repeated doses increase the risk significantly. Signs develop quickly and can include salivation, vomiting, weakness and abdominal pain. Due to the significant toxicity to pets in relatively minimal dosages, the recommendation is clear - Panadol, Paracetamol or any Analgesics should not be given to dogs or cats. Other,safer, drugs are available for pain relief; talk to your veterinarian about your own pet's specific needs.