Tuesday, November 10, 2009


No matter how conscientious we are about providing the best care for our animals, accidents do happen when we least expect it. One of the worse things that can happen to our dogs is if they were ever to get hit by a car. It’s not unheard of that a dog might get out the front door of your house and may chase after something down the street. Then there are the stories of a dog being run over in the driveway because the owner didn’t know he was standing behind the car when he backed over him. These are rare cases (thank goodness) but they do happen. Sometimes the dog appears fine on the outside. There’s not too much physical evidence to indicate that he was even hit by a car. Don’t take that as a final assessment of the dog’s condition. Any animal that has been hit by a car should be taken to your veterinarian. The dog may be suffering from internal bleeding or a punctured lung, etc. But until you can get him to the vet, what do you do?

This information that I am writing about is taken from the articles that Dr. Andrew Jones sends to me. The first thing that he advises to do after contacting your vet is to access the dogs breathing. The dog may have a lung injury. Is the dog breathing normally or is his breathing labored with his mouth open? A common injury is pneumothorax, in which a part of the lung collapses, causing progressive respiratory distress. This dog needs immediate veterinarian attention!

Next thing to do is to check the dog’s heartbeat. The best way to do this is place your ear against the dog’s chest behind the left elbow. Another thing that you can do is to feel for a pulse by placing your fingers in the groin (inside the thigh in the back legs).

If your dog is non-responsive the next thing to do is to give the dog CPR. The CPR steps are as follows: assess responsiveness, establish an airway, perform rescue breathing, and cardiac massage to establish circulation. With a dog the size of a German Shepherd, you will need to exert a lot of force. After every minute, stop and check for a pulse or breathing. Continue heart massage compresses and rescue breathing until a pulse or breathing resumes.

Another thing to look at is the dog’s gum color. This is a great measure of blood pressure, to determine if shock is present, and to evaluate for internal bleeding. The gums should be a healthy pink color. If they are pale, then your pet needs to be treated for shock and transported to a vet as soon as possible.

If the dog is bleeding, you need to give this special attention. The bleeding must be stopped now!! Apply direct pressure with a clean cloth. Hold this in place for five minutes.

If a dog has an open wound, covering them with help keep them clean and prevent infection. If you don’t have bandages, a clean towel can be used instead.

If the dog can’t use any one of his legs, it’s probably fractured. If the leg is dangling, and bent at an unusual angle, then you should attempt to immobilize it until you get veterinary care. Place a towel around the leg. Wrap the inside of the leg with material to partially splint the limb: newspaper, magazine or even bubble wrap. Cover this with tape to keep the newspaper next to the towel.

If you must move the dog, move him with care. Carefully transport your pet. A firm surface works best. If possible, put your pet on a wooden board. This is best done by first gently sliding him onto a sheet, then sliding the sheet onto the board. If you don't have any of this available, don't worry, the most important thing is rapid transport to your vet. Lift your pet by cradling him (left arm around his chest and right arm around his rear).

As pet owners, we all know the importance of having a first aid kit. Here are some things that we should have on hand. 1. Rectal Thermometer - the newer electronic kind works best. Normal canine temperature is 100.5 to 102.5F. 2. Lubricating jelly to lubricate thermometer. 3. Gel packs that can be sued for hot and cold compresses. 4. Adhesive tape to secure bandages - both non-stick tape and water proof tape. 5. Blunt tipped scissors (a must for animal first aid - used for cutting hair away from wounds). 6. Bandage scissors 7. Splints. 8. Alcohol swabs to sterilize instruments or small areas of skin. 9. Antibiotic ointment for wounds (not for eyes) (i.e. Polysporin, for non puncture type wounds). 10. Contact lens solution for rinsing eyes, to clean wounds (water can be substituted) 11. Cotton swabs (i.e. Q-tips). 12. Hibitane - a mild antibacterial soap for cleaning skin, wounds. 13. Sterile cotton or cotton balls. 14. Sterile Gauze Pads (the larger 4" size is better since it can easily be cut smaller if necessary). 15. Rolls of gauze or cling gauze bandage (1-2"). 16. Hydrogen Peroxide - 10 ml every 15 minutes to induce vomiting in animals that have ingested a non-caustic poison. 17. Razor Blade can also be used to shave away hair and abrade the skin following a tick bite. 18. Stockingette to protect bandage on leg or foot. 19. Rubber bulb ear syringe - used for flushing eyes, ears, wounds. 20. Forceps and/or tweezers. 21. Self-adhesive bandage (i.e. Vetrap). 22. Numbers for the Animal Poison Hotline & Poison Control for Pets (800/548-2423 or 900/680-0000 both numbers charge a fee).

Hopefully none of our animals will ever get hit by a car or other moving vehicle, but it does happen. Dogs get loose at a dog show, a dog may be an escape artist who climbs over the fence of his dog run or digs a hole under the fence. Having dogs we must be prepared for the unexpected.

To read more from Dr. Andrews work, check out yesterdays blog for the link.

My rating: first aid kit: (4), emergency numbers: (4), Veterinarians Secrets (book): (4)

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