Basic Puppy First Aid

If your puppy has an accident at home, remain calm so that he doesn't get nervous. Restrain your puppy and administer basic first aid as described here. If necessary, get him to the veterinarian as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Restraining a hurt puppy

Even the most beloved pet may bite when he’s in pain or confused. If he doesn’t bite you, he may go for the vet or one of the technicians, so restrain your puppy for their sakes. The simplest restraining technique requires a bandana or a rope (the bandana is more comfortable).

To restrain your puppy, follow these steps:

  1. Fold a bandana into a long band.

  2. Drape the center of the band across the top of your dog’s nose.

  3. Cross the two ends underneath your dog’s chin.

  4. Tie the ends securely behind your dog’s ears.

  5. Check the crossing point underneath.

    If the crossing point is too loose, your dog may paw it off; if it’s too tight, you may choke him.

Transporting a hurt puppy

Transporting a dog who has internal injuries is tricky business. He’ll be restless and want to move. Your job is to make sure he doesn’t. If you suspect a broken bone, spinal injury, or internal bleeding, transport your puppy on a firm surface, such as metal or plywood. Otherwise, placing your puppy on a sheet or towel is acceptable. Don’t cover his face, or he may panic.

Puppies can’t articulate pain. To them, it’s just an intense feeling and a state of being. Pain puts dogs in a vulnerable state. It confuses their thought process and their physical organization. Their only drive is to protect themselves and alleviate their distress. Add that state of mind to your puppy’s natural temperament, and what you get is a fairly unpredictable reaction.

Helping a choking puppy

Choking usually occurs when your puppy is chewing or playing with a toy and is suddenly challenged, is startled, or takes a deep breath. If you’re not around or you don’t react quickly, choking can be fatal. One way to prevent choking in the first place is to think smart: Don’t give your puppy toys that are smaller than his face.

If your puppy chokes on something, stay calm and focused while following these steps:

  1. Bring your puppy into a standing position, even if someone must hold him there.

  2. Try to reach in and dislodge the object.

    Be careful — you can jam the object farther in or get bitten if your dog’s panicking.

  3. If you can’t dislodge the object, try a modified version of the Heimlich maneuver.

    If your puppy is able to stand, clasp your hands together around his abdomen and pull up into his abdomen just behind the sternum. Repeat this action five times vigorously.

    If he’s unable to stand or is wiggling, steady him into an upright position and continue as described before.

  4. If all else fails, get your dog to the veterinarian immediately.

Stopping your puppy’s bleeding

If your puppy is hurt and starts bleeding, you want to stop it immediately. Bleeding comes in three forms:

  • The everyday cut or scrape: This injury is no big deal. Twice a day, wipe the area with hydrogen peroxide to keep it safe from infection, and it should heal just fine.

  • A continuous or oozing stream: This type of bleeding requires medical attention immediately. Raise the body part above the heart if possible and apply bandages one on top of the other to soak up the blood as you press down on the area to slow the flow.

  • A gushing spurt and flow: This type of bleeding is serious — very serious. Your puppy can go into shock quickly and die if he loses too much blood. Place bandage on top of bandage, elevate the limb if possible, and put constant pressure on the incoming artery. Drive to the nearest animal hospital.

If you suspect internal bleeding, get your puppy to a hospital immediately. Internal bleeding is a life-threatening situation. White gums, a distended abdomen, a bloody cough, or vomiting spells are indications of internal bleeding.

Find your puppy’s pressure points. While he’s sleeping, feel for the pulse near the hip and elbow joints. These arteries regulate blood flow, and in an emergency, you can press them to slow it down. You can also use ice packs to slow the flow of blood from oozing cuts and scrapes.

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