Dog First Aid Checklist: What to do when things go wrong

When things go wrong with our pets, it’s very easy to panic. Whether it’s a minor injury or something more serious, there are steps you can take to help get the situation under control.  
Hand holding up a stethoscope to a puppy's face

What to do when things go wrong.   

 If you are in an emergency where a dog has been injured, try to stay calm. Call your vet and administer emergency first aid if needed.  

When responding to a medical emergency, the first response checklist for animals is the same as recommended for people and can be easily remembered by the acronym Dr. ABC.  

D – Check for Danger, keep yourself and others safe. 

R – Is your dog Responding?  

A – Is their Airway clear? Check this by pulling their tongue forward and removing any obstructions. 

B Are they Breathing? Check if their chest is rising and falling. 

C – Check their Circulation, do they have a heartbeat or a pulse? To check you can put your ear to the dog’s chest and listen for a heartbeat.  

Most vet practices will have an emergency 24-hour phone line, if your dog is in a critical condition, call this number immediately.  

Preparation is key  

In a stressful situation, it pays to be prepared. Make sure your vet’s number is stored in your phone alongside any important information about pre-existing conditions or pet insurance.  

You should also carry a Dog First Aid kit containing: 

  • Bandages 
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Scissors  
  • Tick tweezers  
  • Saline solution for cleaning wounds  
  • Self-adhesive tape 
  • Cotton wool 
  • Foil blanket 

We also recommend dog owners to carry extra towels in their car which can be used in an emergency to warm a dog in shock, as a stretcher to lift an unresponsive dog or to restrain a lively dog while you examine them or administer first aid.  

Invest in Dog First Aid training  

The best way to prepare for an emergency is to learn how to administer effective dog first aid from an expert provider. Check out our Dog First Aid course to learn more!  

Dog First Aid Training

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