When you are in an emergency situation, your reflexes can allow you to intervene quickly to stabilize your pet and then move it to a veterinary clinic or hospital. Even if you are not a veterinarian, learn first aid techniques, because when they are known and mastered, they can save your pet’s life!
As with a car accident, the first thing to do is to protect the area
If you are at home, this is probably not necessary! But if you are on the road, and your pet is in an accident, the first thing to do is to secure the area by placing a vehicle on hazard lights (for example) upstream from the accident site.
Assess the condition of the animal and prevent it from getting worse
First aid measures check that the dog is alive if it seems not to move (unconscious) by taking the pulse, for example on the inside of the thigh (femoral vein) (see photo on the right). Protect yourself: if your dog or cat is in pain, it can bite, you could not take care of it if your hands are hurt! Muzzle your dog with a makeshift muzzle: a simple tie (with a lace) or his leash if it is flexible, can immobilize the jaws by going around the mouth, then passing behind the neck and knotting the whole (see photo on the left).
If he chokes: you can put the dog in a wheelbarrow position (especially for big dogs) and compress the rib cage on each side to provoke the expulsion of a possible foreign body. This is a somewhat technical gesture that it is better to have learned in a training course before being put in a situation.
Cleaning a wound on a dog
Prepare all your equipment in advance, the ideal is to have a first aid kit when you travel! Above all, protect yourself: put on gloves (latex or vinyl) especially if you don’t know the animal and its vaccination status.
Eye injuries are usually caused by a “foreign body”: Beware, dogs and cats have a third eyelid (called nictitating membrane): If it is apparent and the eye is red, it is a sign of inflammation (conjunctivitis). Do not touch the eye! Also, do not allow your pet to rub its eyes as this may cause further damage. If he has a foreign body in his eye, don’t try to remove it directly either: rinse his eye with a physiological solution, sometimes this is enough to make it go away and then take your pet to the veterinary emergency facility.
Wounds on the paws/pads
If the wound is bleeding: Compress it (lightly) with compresses then rinse it with a physiological solution or water, get rid of any debris (pieces of skin…) then compress the wound again with a gauze compress to stop the bleeding if it has started again. Then cut the hair around the lesion as best you can using a disinfected pair of scissors and keeping the gauze in place to protect the wound from the scissors. To disinfect, you can use a product containing Betadine or a chlorhexidine product.
Clean the wound regularly (once or twice a day, every day or every two or three days depending on the condition of the wound and your veterinarian’s recommendations) with an antibacterial cleanser. Dry the area and apply an antiseptic cream or lotion. As the paws are inevitably in contact with germs of all kinds, a bandage will sometimes be necessary. A bandage will prevent your pet from chewing or licking the wound, and consequently a super infection.
The area around a wound should be as clean as possible. Do not hesitate to cut the hair with a pair of scissors while protecting the wound during this time. Remove any debris from the wound with tweezers or round-tipped pliers. Next, clean and disinfect the wound and apply antiseptic lotion to prevent infection. Repeat the application, gently massaging the skin, twice a day.
A body wound does not necessarily need a dressing if the animal cannot reach it (licking impossible). In this case, leave the wound in the open air: this can accelerate the healing process. Monitor the wound until it is completely healed: If the area is red, inflamed or swollen, consult a veterinarian immediately as an infection may be developing.
If your pet has been injured by a “blunt object” such as broken glass or a knife, nail, etc., pick it up or take a picture of it before you take it to the veterinarian. Knowing the nature of the object can help the veterinarian estimate the size of the wound and adapt his or her care.
When compressing a wound to stop bleeding, do not remove the compress if blood is seeping through. Instead, add more gauze or a clean cloth (cloth, towel, etc.) and hold the pressure until the bleeding stops. If the bleeding has not stopped after 5 minutes, take your pet to the emergency veterinarian as soon as possible after tying a cohesive bandage around the wound.
Caution! Some gestures are part of the practice of veterinary medicine, so you are only allowed to perform them on your pet, otherwise you will be accused of illegal practice of veterinary medicine by an owner who is unhappy that you did not succeed in saving him… It’s the law!
If you want to learn and improve your first aid skills for your dog, there are training courses available, for example the very serious HumAnimal training course with David Roussin, which teaches you cardiac massage and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, how to move your pet, how to immobilize a fracture etc. ….
Your dog has a particularity, health or mood, avoid “accident” or risk with Canicode and prevent with humor by making yourself a small memo to hang on the collar: “Attention, brachycephalic” “dog with renal insufficiency” … etc