Emergency Care For Dogs

Emergency Care For Dogs

Life is full of the unexpected, and that’s true of your dog’s life too. Personal and community emergencies can and do happen. Because the only predictable thing in life is that life is unpredictable, we should all be prepared for emergencies. To keep your puppy safe, take a three prong approach to emergencies: prevent, prepare, and respond. Try to prevent emergencies as much as possible but prepare for their possibility. When there is an emergency, stay calm and respond quickly and efficiently.

Personal Emergencies

Unfortunately, there is no dog 911. If your dog is hit by a car or chokes on a ball, it’s up to you to save him. So the first step to take when it comes to emergencies is to do everything you can to prevent them.


There are ways to prevent many tragedies, including choking, poisoning, injuries, and even some illnesses. Choking is common. One way to prevent choking is to buy toys that are made specifically for dogs. Keep in mind that toys with movable parts or sewn on features are a hazard. Take a close look at balls and other chew toys.

Make sure they are too large to be swallowed before allowing your dog to play with them. Of course small dogs need smaller balls and toys than do larger dogs. If you have dogs of diverse sizes, don’t allow your larger dog access to the smaller dog’s toys. Bones are also a choking danger. Never give your dog cooked bones as they can easily splinter and cause choking. Keep the kitchen garbage well out of reach.


Getting into poisons is another household danger. We encounter many poisons and toxins every day without even thinking about them. Many of these can be dangerous or even fatal for our dongs. Indoor and outdoor plants, fluids dripping from cars, cleaning supplies, pesticides, rat and mouse poisons, even certain human foods such as chocolate and onions can be toxic to dogs. Keep these and other questionable items well out of a puppy’s reach.


Injuries, such as sports injuries, falls, or traffic related injuries, are often preventable. Always keeping your dog under your control, whether within a secure fenced-in area or on leash, is the best injury preventive. To avoid pulled muscles, heatstroke, and other exercise-related injuries, pay attention to your dog’s needs and keep him in good condition. Don’t be a weekend warrior, hanging out on the couch 95 percent of the time and then running your dog into the ground one day a week. Don’t exercise your dog during the hottest times of the day, and always keep fresh water available.

Serious Injuries

Some serious illnesses seem to come from nowhere. Many illnesses, however, can be treated before they turn intoan emergency. If your dog shows signs of illness-coughing, vomiting, or having diarrhea-don’t just hope it will go away. Call your vet and describe the symptoms. The sooner you treat an illness, the better your dog’s chances of a quick recovery.


Don’t wait for a medical emergency to find out where the closest emergency clinic is.  Instead, have the name, number and address of a reputable 24-hour emergency clinic close at hand at all times.  Drive the route at least once before an emergency strikes.  When in a panic, it’s easy to forget how to get to a location or become so flustered that you can’t figure out an address.  Don’t leave anything to chance.  Also,  keep a well-stocked first aid kit available at all times.  


Sometimes emergencies just happen despite your best attempts to prevent them.  Experts say the most important thing you can do when your dog is injured or ill is to remain calm.  Losing control puts both you and your dog in further danger. 

Instead of losing your head, stop for a moment, take a deep breath, and observe the situation.  Collect yourself before rushing to your dog.  Many dog owners have been injured or even killed because they panicked and rushed into the street after an injured animal.  Proceed cautiously.

What To Do In a Car Accident

Determine if your dog is seriously injured or ill.  If he is, the first thing you must do is stabilize him.  If he’s been hit by a car and is in the street, you must stop traffic to move him out of harm’s way.  You might need help to do this.  Flag down drivers traveling in the opposite direction and ask them to blck the street while you move your dog. 

Keep in mind that your dog may act aggressively toward you due to pain and fear, so find a length of gauze or a strip of cloth to tie around his muzzle. 

Your dog may have a neck injury so you need to take special care when you move him.  Find a large, sturdy piece of wood or a sheet that will support the dog’s weight.  With help, gently maneuver him onto the sturdy board or taut sheet.  Be careful not to jostle him.

After You Are Out of Direct Traffic

Once out of direct danger, assess your dog’s condition.  Is he conscious, in pain, bleeding?  If he is bleeding, apply direct pressure to the wound to stem the blood flow.  If he is breathing with difficulty, sweep his mouth to remove any foreign bodies, and then perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.  If you cannot obtain a pulse, perform CPR. 

Talk to your veterinarian about the proper method to administer mouth-to=mouth resuscitation and CPR.  She may also be able to refer you to a canine first aid training course.  

Once Stabilized and In Your Car

Once the dog is stabilized, gently load him into your car.  Call your vet or the closest emergency clinic to let the staff members know you’re on the way.  Give them as much information on the dog’s condition as possible and your probable time of arrival.  Be sure to bring a checkbook or major credit card with you so there is no issue with payment.  If possible, bring a friend or neighbor to monitor your dog’s condition as you drive.  

What We Have Learned

We usually don’t anticipate emergencies, but once they happen we need to calmly act, not panic.  We have learned some about first aid and what to do in case of a car accident.  We have learned about what to do with poisons and other types of injury.

Thank you for reading this article, and feel free to leave comments.

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