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First Aid for Dogs

In emergency situations:

Keep calm and assess the situation before acting, ensuring the safety of yourself and others. Injured dogs are frightened and in pain and may bite.

If there is a risk of biting, put a muzzle on the dog, or wrap tape around the nose and tie behind the ears, unless the dog has difficulty breathing. Small dogs may be restrained by putting a thick towel over their heads.

Contact a vet. Keep your vet's phone number to hand and know the name of the practice. Always phone the vet before travelling, whatever the situation, there may not always be a vet available at your surgery but staff may be able to suggest immediate action you can take.

Never give human medicines to a dog – many will do more harm than good.

Do not offer food or drink in case your dog needs to have a general anaesthetic

Is it an emergency?

Sometimes, outside of normal surgery hours, it can be difficult to decide whether urgent attention is needed. 

You should always phone your vet if:

  • Your dog seems weak, is reluctant to get up, or is dull and depressed
  • There is difficulty breathing, breathing is noisy or rapid, or if there is continual coughing which is causing distress
  • There is repeated vomiting, particularly with young or elderly dogs. Diarrhoea is less serious, unless it is severe, bloody or your dogs seems otherwise weak or unwell
  • Your dog appears to be in severe pain or discomfort
  • Your dog is trying to vomit, urinate or defecate and is unable to. Blockage of the bladder sometimes occurs, especially in males, and can kill if not treated urgently. Bloat can kill quickly if untreated
  • There are sudden difficulties with balance
  • A bitch with suckling puppies is agitated, shaking and shivering and will not settle. It could be eclampsia, which needs urgent treatment.