A Brief Guide About First Aid For Dogs Wounds & Emergencies

Dogs’ inquisitiveness often puts them in harm’s way. From dumpster diving, spoiled food, running into traffic, and chasing after a wild animal – canines seem to have no sense of danger. These adventures can sometimes end up in an emergency, so you should know first aid for dogs wounds. This will help manage the situation while you try to reach the veterinarian.

Having knowledge of first aid will stop a small injury from becoming worse. Many times, this skill can be life-saving. Read on and become a more informed dog owner!

First aid for dog wounds

While nothing replaces the expertise of a veterinarian, it’s still crucial that you know first aid for your pet. This way, you won’t feel helpless should an emergency occur.

Below, I discussed common emergencies that pet owners encounter with their dogs and what you need to do about it:

🐶Fight wounds

Did your pet figure in a dog fight? If so, it likely suffered from bite injuries and punctured skin. Depending on the severity of the injuries, you can provide first aid or bring your pet straight to the vet.

first aid for dogs wounds

If your dog has been in a fight, here are the first aid steps you need to take:

  • Examine your dog’s body. It’s important to closely examine your dog’s body to look for injuries. Take note that bite marks can be hidden under your dog’s fur, especially if it’s a double-coated or long-haired breed.
  • Don’t bathe your dog. The first instinct of pet owners is to bathe their dogs after a fight to wash off the wounds. However, you should never do this as the soap may irritate the wounds and cause more damage. It can also lead to aggression due to the intense pain and fear of your pet.
  • Control the bleeding. After a severe fight, many dogs end up with bleeding wounds. You must control this by putting clean gauze directly over the wound. Make sure that it’s wrapped snugly to apply compression on the wound without squeezing it too much.
  • Call the vet immediately. While you’re trying to get the bleeding in control, you should try to call the vet. You can also ask someone to do it for you while you attend to your dog.
  • Consider using a dog collar. No matter how trained your dog is, it can become aggressive after a fight. This is normal due to the pain and shock it went through. If you’re afraid of being bitten, you can put on a dog collar on your pet as long as it doesn’t get into the wounds.


Another common emergency in vet clinics is choking or obstruction of breathing. This happens a lot when the canine swallows a large toy or other similar items.

Take note that choking will be deadly in a matter of minutes without first aid. You don’t have time to drive your dog to the vet in this situation. This is why you should know the following steps:

Perform the Heimlich maneuver

  • Lift your pet with its hind legs touching the floor.
  • Next, place the back of your dog to your abdomen or chest. Make sure that the spine is fully supported.
  • Place a fist between the last rib of your dog and its abdomen.
  • After that, thrust or squeeze firmly to dislodge the object on your dog’s throat or mouth.
  • Do this four times, but always be in control of the force, especially with small breeds.

Or use the upside-down method

If the Heimlich maneuver isn’t yielding results, you can use gravity to your advantage. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Hold your pet by the back legs and flip it upside down. Your dog should be fully suspended in the air.
  • Next, deliver firm blows on your dog’s abdomen. This is to help pop the object out of its throat.
  • Repeat this four times and whatever that’s blocking your dog’s breathing should be removed.


Bleeding is a very common injury among canines. Since dogs are adventurous, they can easily get cuts, punctures, and scratches all over their bodies.

However, it’s also important to know that bleeding can happen internally. Some dogs also experience bleeding in their urine and stool.

For external bleeding, the best course of action is applying compression on the wound. This will help stop blood from flowing. Once the compress gets soaked in blood, use a fresh and thick layer to continue the compression.

It’s important to rush your dog to the vet if it’s bleeding, both internally and externally. This way, you can prevent blood loss and potentially life-threatening situations.


Unlike other injuries, burns may take up to 24 hours before showing any adverse symptom. It depends on the severity, though exposure to extremely hot surfaces will surely scald your pet in an instant.

The most common culprit here is a dry heat, like an open fire, your stove, corrosive chemicals, and extreme cold. On the other hand, burns can also be caused by moist heat like boiling water or hot wax.

Take note that burns vary in severity. Nevertheless, the following steps will help before you transport your doggo to the vet:

  • Pour cool running water into the burned area. Don’t use ice-cold water as this can cause shock on your dog. You can also use a cold compress for small burns.
  • Keep flushing the burn with cool water for five minutes to prevent the injury from worsening. This will also soothe your dog temporarily.
  • Wrap your dog in a blanket before transporting it to the vet. You can also use a dog cone if your pet is being aggressive due to pain.
  • Take note that serious burns require veterinary attention. This is to prevent the risk of skin infections that can easily occur in these conditions.

🐶Broken bone

Broken bones and tails can occur in dogs when it falls from an elevated area or if they got hit by a car. Sometimes, very fast zoomies can also result in dislocation and fractures.

When it comes to these emergencies, there’s very little you can do. Still, it’s important to keep the affected area immobilized by using a cardboard splint.

I highly recommend that you call the vet, so you’ll be guided on how to splint your dog’s broken bone properly. You should also put your dog on a cone since it will likely try to bite you as you work on containing the injury.

However, if your dog figured in a vehicular accident, you should practice more caution in moving its body. It’s best to use a sling instead of lifting your pet’s body around. This is to reduce the risk of making the injury worse.


Overheating is a notorious problem among brachycephalic breeds like English Bulldogs and French Bulldogs. This happens when the dog is exposed to intense heat. And since flat-nosed canines have narrower airways, they will find it hard to breathe.

Take note that overheating or heat stroke can take a deadly turn within minutes. This is why every dog owner should know how to provide first aid for this emergency.

If you notice that your dog is breathing rapidly, have bluish or pale gums, and is confused after a walk on a hot day, you should perform these steps:

  • Bring the dog to a cool area. To start cooling down your dog, you should bring it to a shaded area. Never bring an overheating dog straight to an air-conditioned room as this will cause shock.
  • Provide small amounts of water. Next, give your dog cool water in small amounts. This is to prevent the canine from drinking too fast and consuming a lot of air.
  • Pour water on the dog’s body. While your dog drinks, you can also pour cool water all over its body. You can also place your dog in a basin full of water. Again, never use ice-cold water for this.
  • Bring your dog to the vet. Once your dog cools down, you should bring it to the vet immediately. At the clinic, it will be examined for potential complications.

🐶Poison ingestion       

Dogs are known for their dietary indiscretion. They will try to eat just about anything they can put in their mouths. It includes food items like grapes, chocolate, garlic, and human medications.

If your dog ingested any poisonous substances, you should do the following:

  • Call a pet poison hotline. If your dog’s vet is out of reach, you can call a pet poison hotline instead. They will assist you in providing first aid and they can also connect you to an available veterinarian near your area.
  • Follow the instructions. Take note that you should only induce vomiting if the veterinarian tells you to do so. While it may seem like a good solution, inducing vomiting can also lead to choking, which can happen on some occasions.
  • Observe your dog. If you’re not sure about what your dog ingested, you can wait it out and observe the pooch within 12 to 24 hours. If the dog vomits or experiences diarrhea, you should consider bringing it to the vet immediately.

What should be in your dog’s first aid kit?

It’s advisable to have a pet first aid kit ready in your home and car all the time. This way, you won’t be caught empty-handed whenever an emergency occurs.

Like first aid kits for humans, those for dogs need several staples. The following are some of the things you need to stash inside the bag:

  • Paperwork. This includes our dog’s medical records, vaccination history, and emergency phone numbers. Photocopies will do here. Overall, these documents will be helpful, especially if you’re hiring pet sitters.
  • Gauze and gloves. Make sure that you have a large roll of gauze on your pet’s first aid kit. Pair this with scissors and medical rubber gloves.
  • Blanket. Blankets come in handy during dog emergencies. It can be used as a restraint when your dog is being aggressive and it will also help keep your dog warm.
  • Grooming wipes. Unscented grooming wipes will be used to wipe mud, dirt, and minor scratches.
  • Sterile eye solution. Foreign matter can get into your dog’s eyes, so it’s important that you have a sterile solution on your kit. You should only use one that’s made for dogs.
  • Hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is the quintessential disinfectant for wounds. Also, it can be used to induce vomiting if your dog ingested poisonous substances.
  • Medications. The likes of topical ointments, antihistamines, calming aids, and other vet-prescribed medications should be kept in your dog’s first aid kit.
  • A small pack of food. It’s important that you also keep an emergency food source in the first aid kit. A pack enough for one meal should be enough. You should pair this with a bottle of water.
  • Poop bags. Poop bags are used to collect your dog’s fecal matter. It can also come in handy as a trash bag when addressing a bleeding wound or when your dog is vomiting.
  • Flashlight. Emergencies can happen night and day, so you should always keep a small flashlight inside the kit. Make sure that you check the batteries from time to time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I treat my dog’s wounds at home?

A: Small and minor wounds can be treated at home. However, if your dog is bleeding heavily, having breathing difficulties, and has a poor appetite, you should bring it to the vet instead. You can also call the vet if transporting your dog isn’t possible.

Q: What are the warning signs that your dog is crying for help?

A: Sudden changes in eating habits, lethargy, rapid breathing, poor balance, and whining are some of the signs that your dog needs help. The pooch might be suffering from an injury or an underlying health problem. It’s important to seek veterinary attention to save your dog from suffering.

Q: Are human medications safe for dogs?

A: Not all human medications are safe for canines. Specifically, you should never administer ibuprofen, paracetamol, and similar NSAIDs to your dog. Those made for humans have a different dosage, which is way stronger than what a canine can handle. Also, NSAIDs are known to cause liver and kidney issues if used haphazardly on dogs.

Q: Is baby aspirin safe for dogs?

A: Aspirin or any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs made for humans aren’t safe for dogs. Even if it’s a baby aspirin, you should refrain from using it as a home medication for your pet. Instead, you should call the vet for the proper prescription based on your canine’s condition.

Q: What is considered an emergency for a dog?

A: It’s considered an emergency if your dog has stopped or finds it extremely hard to breathe. Also, intense bleeding, fractures, prolonged diarrhea, and incessant vomiting are considered emergencies. Putting off immediate treatment for these situations can lead to life-threatening situations.

Final words

Being knowledgeable of first aid for dogs wounds and emergencies should be every pet owner’s goal. This will ensure that your dog will receive proper treatment even before it reaches the vet.

When in doubt, you can ask your dog’s veterinarian for first aid tips on your next visit. Don’t hesitate to take down notes to ensure that you get everything right.

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