Wednesday, June 12, 2024
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Basic First Aid for Dogs


I’m sure most of us have a medicine cabinet or first aid kit stocked with necessities to help in case of an illness or injury, but does that cabinet contain anything for your dog friends? It should. Having just a few simple things in your dog first aid kit can really help out when emergencies happen.

Before attempting any treatment of your pooch, make sure you can handle him safely and carefully. This will help prevent you from needing first aid as well. Here are a few techniques to get you started.

Pill Pockets or Other Treats

You can disguise oral medications, especially pills, in Pill Pockets. These are flavored treats that wrap around the pill. Picky dogs will still figure it out, but most won’t. If you don’t have Pill Pockets, you can use small pieces of hot dog, cheese, or bread. Sticking the pill in peanut butter and spreading it on the roof of your pup’s mouth can also work well.


The Just Stick It In Method

For those tricky dogs that can find a pill in a haystack so to speak, you may have to just stick the pill down their throat. This is not a pleasant experience for anyone, but sometimes is the only way. This technique should not be used in biters. If you have someone to help, this will work better to.

Either you or a friend opens the dog’s mouth by gently pulling down on the lower jaw while holding the upper jaw in place. The chosen person then sticks the pill as far into the back of the mouth as possible using a thumb and forefinger. Close the dog’s mouth and wait for a swallow. It’s nice to give a treat or at least a drink of water afterwards.


Laying Down and Playing Dead

Getting your dog to lie down is a perfect method when working with feet. Obviously, this will put them in the best position for you to see the feet, but also can help calm them.  Having a dog lay on his side also allows a helper to use their body to control your dog.

Whatever technique you end up using, make sure everyone is safe including the pooch.

Now let’s move onto the items to have on hand. Note: You should only have these items in case of an emergency and only give them under the guidance of a veterinarian.


Hydrogen Peroxide

This fizzy liquid is most commonly used in the human world as a wound cleanser and antiseptic. It works the same for our pets, but has the added duty of inducing vomiting when our friends eat things they shouldn’t. Hydrogen peroxide should only be used to induce vomiting in otherwise healthy animals only after ingestion of a known object. If you are not sure what your dog ate and he doesn’t look well, take him to the vet immediately. Do not induce vomiting of caustic or corrosive liquids that could cause damage as they come up the throat. Also, vomiting needs to be induced within four hours of ingestion in order for it to have any affect.

The dosage for hydrogen peroxide is one teaspoon per 10 pounds given orally. This may be repeated three to four times at 10 minute intervals or until vomiting occurs. Again, make sure you know what your critter ate and be sure that it is safe to vomit back up.  It’s also a good idea to administer outside because the whole process is messy.


Triple Antibiotic Ointment

It heals dog wounds faster too. Triple antibiotic ointment can be used on minor cuts and scrapes in our furry friends as well. It just needs to have some contact time in order to help, so a light wrap is usually required to keep curious tongues away.

Triple antibiotic ointment can also be used in irritated or injured eyes as a first line of defense until a veterinarian can be seen. It will cause blurry vision for a short time, so most animals aren’t too excited about the use of it.


Vet Wrap or Other Self-Adhesive Bandage

Vet wrap is a must have when there are dogs, children or even adults around. It’s a very easy to use bandage to cover wounds, stop bleeding, or make a supportive wrap. It also comes in a variety of colors and prints to make things more exciting if your pouch has to use it long term.

Just remember when using vet wrap that it is a stretchy bandage that can easily be wrapped too tightly. Just make sure you can slip a finger or two under any wrap that you apply with it.


Athletic, Porous, or White Tape

Vet wrap’s best friend. White tape works well with vet wrap to keep the vet wrap bandages on. Vet wrap sticks well to itself, but not to hair, so the bandage can easily slip off.  White tape sticks to both the vet wrap and the hair, keeping the bandage in place.  It’s no match for a persistent licker or chewer though, so other measures may have to be taken to keep these dogs from removing the bandages and tape.



An age-old anti-inflammatory, aspirin can be used in our painful pouches as well. Aspirin can provide temporary pain relief from arthritis, muscles strains and sprains, or minor bumps and bruises. Aspirin should not be used when there is active bleeding or for a long term situation. Again, this and any of the other therapies should only be used in a pinch until you can see your veterinarian.

The dose for aspirin is 325 mg or one regular aspirin per 30 pounds. This can be given twice daily but for no longer than three to four doses.  Long term use can lead to stomach issues, so if your pup needs help past four doses, you should see your veterinarian for something a little safer. It is also best to use buffered aspirin as it is easier on the tummy.



Bee stings, bug bites, allergies and even snake bites can initially be treated with an antihistamine like Benedryl. Antihistamines help to reduce and prevent swelling. It can also decrease itching, redness and hives associated with allergic reactions. As an added benefit, Benedryl can be used to help reduce car sickness in our pups.

The dose for Benedryl is one to two 25mg, or adult strength tablets, per 20 pounds. For our palm sized pals, the liquid children’s formulation comes in a lower strength that is easier to measure out. Higher doses can cause some sedation which is how it helps prevent car sickness. It also takes 30 to 45 minutes to take effect, so keep that in mind when planning your car rides.


Pepto Bismol, Kao Pectate, or Other Pink Tummy Medications

These work well for minor upset stomach issues related to garbage gut. For mild vomiting or diarrhea, Pepto Bismol can be given at a dosage of 1 ml per 10 pounds up to three times a day.  If there is no improvement after 24 hours, take your dog to the vet to make sure further treatment isn’t needed.


Epsom Salts

I love Epsom salts to help soothe minor injuries. Soaking sore paws in a mixture of warm water and Epsom salts help to draw out swelling and inflammation as well as cleanse any wounds. It also acts as a poultice to help remove small foreign objects such as thistle stickers or grass seeds embedded between toes. Nothing works better to clean and soothe broken toe nails.

Epsom salts are also used as a laxative when given orally. There are easier to use products out there if you’re looking for a laxative however.



Plain yogurt is a great source of natural probiotics. Probiotics become important in dogs that are ill or on antibiotics. Probiotics help to maintain a healthy GI tract and prevent diarrhea. Plain yogurt has less sugar than flavored and most pups will readily eat it.  Just give them a couple tablespoons with their meal for the duration of the medication or illness.



Keeping your medicine cabinet or first aid kit stocked to suit your dog’s needs is an easy thing to do as most of the products you need are meant for humans and you probably already have them. Just know how and when to use them and your pouch will thank you if the need arises.

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