Category: Helping Dogs

How to Establish an Emergency Contact for Your Dog

An emergency contact, also known as a designated caretaker, is a person who will take care of your dog in case you are hospitalized, incapacitated, or unable to return home during an emergency or natural disaster. An emergency contact should be established before a problem arises. Reach out to various friends and family to see who might be willing to take your dog in. Once someone has agreed to be the contact, you should sign an agreement before notifying the proper authorities to ensure that your contact is notified during an emergency. It is also important to provide supplies and instructions to your contact so that they have everything they need to care for your dog.


Finding an Emergency Contact

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    Make a list of suitable family and friends. Write a list of your trusted family, friends, and neighbors to see who might be willing to become your dog’s emergency contact. Think carefully about who may be able to assist you. An emergency contact may have to enter your home if you are hospitalized, incapacitated, or unable to return home. Make sure that you trust them to do this.

    • The person should be able to provide for all of your dog’s needs. For example, if you have an energetic or high-energy breed, you may not want to choose someone who lives in an apartment. Instead, you may want to ask someone who lives in a house or has a fenced yard.
    • You should exclude people who are allergic or afraid of dogs.
    • If they have pets, make sure that your dog is compatible and friendly with them.[1]
    • If the potential emergency contact has or is expecting children, carefully consider if they will be able to suddenly assume responsibility for your dog as well. Consider whether your dog is good with young children, too.
    • An emergency contact should already know your dog, and your dog should be comfortable around them. Do not choose someone if your dog acts nervous, aggressive, or shy around them.[2]
    • An emergency contact should live close enough that they can reach your home quickly in case of an emergency.[3]
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    Ask them to be your emergency contact. To ask, you should call or meet with your candidate. Tell them that you are trying to prepare in case of an emergency, and ask them if they would be willing to take in your dog. Emphasize that this in case of an emergency only.

    • You can say, “I am trying to find an emergency contact for my dog in case something happens to me. I was wondering if you would be willing to do that. I’m not asking you to dog sit; this is really just to make sure that Fido is taken care of in case the worst happens.”
    • You might also want to give them an idea of what taking care of your dog is like. You can say, “Fido is a very sweet and quiet dog, and he is house-trained. You would have to walk him twice a day though because he has a ton of energy.”
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    Determine how much they are willing to help you. Your emergency contact may take in your dog for a few days if there is an accident, but they may not agree to adopt your dog long-term or in the event of your death.[4] You should make sure you understand the circumstances that somebody is willing to take in your dog. You should ask:

    • “How long would you be able to take my dog in for?”
    • “If there was a natural disaster, do you think that you would be able to take in my dog? Or would you have to evacuate as well?”
    • “If I died, do you think you would be able to adopt my dog permanently?”
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    Consider having multiple contacts. Depending on the circumstance, you may want to have a few different options for emergency contacts. If one contact is unavailable, another may be able to help in their place. This will ensure that someone is able to care for your dog in case of an emergency.

    • If someone takes in your dog but is suddenly unable to continue care for them, they can contact the other emergency contacts. When you choose your contact, you should let them know who else may be able to help.
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    Locate safe havens in case of a natural disaster. If you are evacuated for any reason, you may not be able to take your pet with you, as many disaster shelters will not take pets, and your normal emergency contact may have to evacuate as well. In addition to finding a local emergency contact, you should find a friend or family member outside of your local area who can take in your pet.[5] You should also look for emergency vets, kennels, and boarding facilities where you can take your dog.[6]

    • Find out in advance which hotels accept dogs, as you may be able to evacuate to one of these instead.
    • Many shelters will fill up during a natural disaster or emergency. If you have advance warning, you should plan for your dog’s evacuation early.


Disclosing Your Agreement

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    Sign an agreement. A pet protection agreement is an informal, written document that states that your emergency contact is responsible for your pet if you are unable to care for them. Both you and your contact must sign it. This will help ensure that your contact is able to legally assume responsibility for your dog.[7]

    • While you do not need a lawyer for it, you may still want one to look over it for you.
    • Getting the document notarized can help in case a dispute arises. It can make the document more legally binding.
    • This agreement might state, “If there is a situation in which I am hospitalized, incapacitated or unable to return home, I designate John Doe to arrange for the feeding and care of my dog until I am able to return home again.”[8]
    • Tell a trusted contact or two about the agreement. Store it somewhere safe but obvious in the event that you are unable to direct them to it.
    • You both should have a copy of this agreement.
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    Name a caretaker in your will. You can set provisions in your will to leave your pet to a designated caretaker, and you can even set aside money to that caretaker to provide for your dog after your death. Make sure you have talked about this extensively with your emergency contact before you do so; they should be fully committed to adopting your dog. You should then contact your lawyer about including the caretaker in your will.[9]

    • If you cannot find someone willing to adopt your dog after your death, you can name a charitable organization that will rehome your dog. This will ensure that your dog does not go to a kill-shelter after your death.
    • Some states allow you to establish a trust that immediately provides money to a trustee for your dog’s care in the event of your death. Talk to a lawyer to see if this is an option for you.
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    Inform your vet. Once you have decided who your contact is, you should make sure that your vet knows. Call your vet, and tell them that you have established an emergency contact. Tell them that this person is responsible for your dog if something happens to you. This will help your vet continue caring for your dog in your absence.

    • When telling your vet, you should say, “Hi, I just want to notify you that I have chosen an emergency contact for my dog. Her name is Mary Smith, and she lives at 123 Main Street. If anything happens to me, she can make medical decisions for my dog on my behalf. Thanks.”
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    Place a sticker on your window. Emergencies can occur when you are not home. To let emergency responders know that there is an animal in the home, you can place a sticker on your window. On this sticker, you should also write both your name and number and the contact information of the pet’s emergency contact.[10]

    • You can buy the stickers online or at a pet store.
    • The ASPCA provides free stickers through their website.
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    Carry a note in your wallet. In case something happens to you, you can inform responders that you have a pet in need of care at your home. The best way to do this is to stick a note in your wallet that states your dog’s name, any medications that they need, and the name of their emergency contact. Responders can reach the contact, and let them know that they should take your pet.[11]


Preparing for a Potential Emergency

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    Give the contact a key to your house. If there is an emergency and you cannot reach your home, your contact should be able to enter your house to take care of your pet. It is important that you give your contact your house key.[12] If you have a security system installed, they should have the password to turn it off.
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    Put together an emergency kit. To make things easy for your emergency contact, you should put together a kit that has everything your dog might need in an emergency. These items can be stored in a special toolbox, duffle bag, plastic storage crate, or trunk. Tell your contact where the kit is located so that they can grab it in an emergency.[13] You should include:

    • Medications
    • A week’s worth of food
    • A bag of treats
    • A week’s worth of clean bottled water
    • First-aid kit[14]
    • Copy of your dog’s medical records
    • An extra leash[15]
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    Write down instructions. You should make sure that there are written instructions for your contact so that they know exactly how to provide for your dog. You might want to include these written instructions in the emergency kit, or you can post it on your fridge. You might also consider giving your contact the instructions in advance, so that they are prepared if an emergency strikes. Be sure to include:

    • How often and how much the dog eats
    • How often they need to be walked
    • When the dog needs to take medications
    • Who their vet is
    • Any medical problems
    • How often they need to be groomed
    • Where your dog’s crate, carrier, bed, toys, and food/water bowl are located in the home.
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    Check in with your contact. If the worst does happen, you should stay in touch with your emergency contact. As soon as you are able, call them to make sure that your dog is taken care of. You might even ask your contact to send you pictures or videos of your dog so that you can have peace of mind while you recover from the emergency.

    • You may also want to make sure that the contact is updated on your situation. You can say, “I will be in the hospital for another week. Are you ok taking care of Max for that long?”
    • If your contact is suddenly unable to take care of the dog, let them know where they can take your dog while you recover. This can be another emergency contact, a vet, or a boarding facility.
    • Be sure to thank them for their help.


How to Watch a Dog for Stiff or Limp Movements

Many canine conditions cause stiff or limp body movements. Many people think these are a normal part of a dog’s aging process, or that they aren’t a symptom worth getting checked out. While mobility issues are part of getting older, many younger dogs also can experience stiff or limp movements. To notice if there is a problem, you should watch for signs of stiffness or limping such as problems walking, reluctance to do activities they used to, and difficulty getting up.


Recognizing Common Signs of Stiffness or Limping

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    Look for a limp gait. A common sign of distress is a limp gait. Your dog may limp as they walk on their paws. The dog may also hold up one of their legs. The limp movement may be in multiple legs, so the dog may walk on different legs at different points during the day.[1]

    • Usually when a dog suffers from a limp gait they will favor placing their weight on certain legs.
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    Check for skeletal problems. When your dog’s legs are lame, you may notice problems with their bones. If one of the back legs is lame, the dog’s pelvis may drop when they step, but then rise when the leg lifts. If both back legs are affected, then the dog’s weight will shift forward.[2]

    • You may notice that the bones or joints in the dog’s legs, hips, or back are abnormal in size or shape.
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    Notice any reluctance to do activities. Limp and stiff body movements may result in your dog not wanting to do the same activities they used to enjoy all the time. Your dog may stop jumping around or refuse to climb stairs.[3]

    • If the dog does climb stairs, they may have noticeable trouble, stumble, or even have one leg that is limp when they are finished.
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    Watch for stiffness when your dog is getting up. You may notice that your dog is having trouble standing. They may be stiff all over or some of their legs may appear limp or lame. It may take your dog a long time to stand due to this.[4]

    • Often, the dog will limp or have trouble walking for a few moments after they get up.
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    Notice a stiff neck. Stiff necks in dogs may point to an underlying medical condition. When your dog has a stiff neck, they may arch their backs or move their nose towards the ground. The dog will probably not want to move their head from side to side or turn around.[5]

    • The muscles around the neck may be very tense or start showing tremors.
    • The dog may refuse to eat because it is difficult to lower their head to eat from the bowl.
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    Notice any aggressive body language. Sometimes your dog will go completely rigid and stop moving. Their entire body may be tense. A dog’s face may also be stiff or tense, giving them a furrowed brow look. The dog’s mouth may be tense and rigid. The tail may also be stiff and held low or parallel to their body.[6]

    • This may not be due to any sickness or ailment, but be body language in response to something that makes them nervous or upset.


Recognizing Risk Factors

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    Think about your dog’s age. Many older dogs experience mobility problems. This includes stiffness after lying or sleeping and difficulty getting up. Older dogs may slow down when they walk, and they may not do the same activities they used to.[7]

    • Though these are common symptoms in senior dogs, you should still have your dog checked out by a vet. Your vet may be able to figure out a way to ease any pain.
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    Determine if there is an immediate reason for the mobility problems. Sometimes, there is an immediate and obvious reason that your dog is limping. For example, maybe they cut their paw and it is healing. They may have also done vigorous exercise where that has left them bruised or sore. Even a dog having nails that are too long may lead to limping.[8]

    • If your dog has recently had surgery, a medical procedure, or an injury this could result in mobility problems.
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    Consider the dog’s breed. Some breeds of dogs have a higher chance of developing hip and joint problems than others. These problems, such as arthritis or dysplasia, can cause limping or stiffness of the joints or limbs. Some breeds with common joint and limb problems are:[9]

    • Dachshund
    • Labrador Retrievers
    • Golden Retrievers
    • German Shepherds
    • Rottweilers
    • Great Danes
    • Mastiffs


Seeking Medical Treatment

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    Take your dog to the vet. If you notice any problems with your dog’s legs or gait, you should take them to the vet. Your vet can do a physical exam and figure out exactly what is wrong with your dog. Limping, stiffness, and lameness are non-specific signs that may point to multiple conditions.[10]

    • Even if you think your dog may not have a severe condition, you should still take them to the vet. You want to make sure that your dog is okay.
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    Determine the cause of the lameness. Dogs may experience limp or stiff movements for a variety of reasons. Because limp or stiff movement is a symptom of many conditions, it is difficult to figure out the reason without a physical exam by a vet. Common causes for stiff or limp movement include:

    • Arthritis[11]
    • Hip or elbow dysplasia
    • Obesity
    • Vertebrae disease
    • Joint disease[12]
    • Pinched neck nerve[13]
    • Torn ACL[14]
    • Sprains, bruises, or cuts on the foot pad[15]
    • Trauma
    • Infection[16]
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    Get your dog tested. When you take your dog to the vet, the vet will perform various tests to figure out what is causing your dog’s mobility issues. They need to figure out if it’s a muscle and skeletal problem, a problem with the brain, or an internal problem.[17]

    • The vet will probably order x-rays, CT scans, or MRIs. They may also get samples of joint fluid, along with tissue and muscle samples.
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    Treat the underlying cause. The treatment of your dog’s mobility problems will depend on what is causing it. It may be as simple as making your dog lose weight to take weight and pressure off joints and limbs. Your vet may also prescribe pain medication or steroids to help your dog move better.[18]

    • In severe cases, your dog may need to undergo surgery to fix the cause of the problem.


How to Use an Ehmer Sling

An “Ehmer” sling is a binding technique used by veterinarians to stabilize a dislocated hind leg in dogs. The configuration of the wrap reduces the movement of the injured leg, preventing further injury and allowing it to heal faster. To apply an Ehmer sling correctly, flex the leg so that it’s held close to the animal’s body, then tape around the bottom portion of the leg and up over the abdomen. When properly immobilized, the injury should begin to heal within 1-2 weeks.


Positioning the Injured Leg

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    Set the injured limb. For an Ehmer sling to be of any use, the dislocated joint must first be put back into place. You should never attempt to do this yourself. Instead, take your dog to a licensed veterinary professional where they can receive proper treatment.[1]

    • Your dog will need to be anesthetized in order to relax the muscles surrounding the injury and make it easier to secure the sling.
    • In most cases, an Ehmer sling will be most effective when used on dislocations that are less than 24 hours old. After that, prolonged muscle contraction may make more intensive surgeries necessary.
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    Lay the dog on its side. Gently lower the dog into a relaxed position with its legs fully outstretched. The injured leg should be on top. While you work, support the limb with one hand to keep it from drooping. Any drastic changes in posture may make the injury worse.[2]

    • Speaking to your dog in a soothing voice will help keep them calm throughout the immobilization process.
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    Wrap the lower part of the leg in gauze to cushion it. An additional layer will provide insulation from the tape and prevent it from sticking to the dog’s fur. Alternatively, you can trim a piece of thick cotton roll to the right proportions.[3]

    • If necessary, hold the padding in place with a small strip of tape to keep it from coming undone while you’re fashioning the sling.
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    Flex the injured leg up toward the dog’s body. Carefully bend the knee joint so that the hip is lying flat against the outer edge of the lower abdomen. The hip should be pulled slightly inward, with the knee pointing toward the center of the belly. In this position, the dog will be forced to keep its weight off the dislocated joint, giving it a chance to heal.[4]

    • Manipulate the injured leg slowly. If your dog winces or cries out in pain, you may be moving too quickly or attempting to place the limb at the wrong angle. Stop immediately and reset the limb correctly before proceeding.
    • A small degree of abduction, or keeping the leg tucked in close to the body, will decrease the chances of the joint drifting back out of the socket.[5]


Wrapping the Sling

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    Anchor the tape around the backside of the injured leg. For an effective Ehmer sling, it’s best to use a strong, non-elastic roll of tape that’s porous enough to let the skin beneath the wrapping breathe. Fold the loose end of the tape around the lower leg just above the paw. Rather than encircling the entire limb, leave 2–3 inches (5.1–7.6 cm) free and press both adhesive sides of the tape together.[6]

    • Be careful not to wrap the sling too tight. This could cut off your dog’s circulation, or at the very least cause discomfort.[7]
    • By securing one side of the tape to the other, you can avoid wrapping the tape too tightly, which could cut off circulation to the limb or lead to sores or skin irritation.
    • Make sure the tape is centered, or else it could lose its hold as you begin to wrap the sling.
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    Guide the tape over the hip joint. Holding the injured leg in a flexed position, pull the free end of the tape up and around the crease where the thigh meets the abdomen. Then, work your way around to where you originally started to form a complete loop. The leg will now stay bent, which will help alleviate the strain on the muscles and tendons.[8]

    • Repeat this taping pattern 2-3 more times to make sure the wrapping stays firmly in place.
    • Make sure you’re applying an even amount of pressure as you continue to wrap the tape. If some spots are wrapped tighter than others, your dog could get painful pressure sores.
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    Redirect the tape to form an abdominal band. If you’re using a separate piece of tape, start by positioning the tape in the same spot you did the first strip. This time, you can stick the end of the tape directly to the lower layer. If you’re using the same roll, simply unravel it enough to allow you to change direction without crossing any other part of the dog’s body.[9]

    • When applying a sling to a larger breed, you may need to use a second roll of tape to ensure that you’ll have enough for multiple passes.
    • Without another point to support the leg band, the joint still won’t have the stability it needs to limit side-to-side movement. The leg band will therefore be responsible for keeping the knee flexed while the abdominal band braces the hip joint itself.[10]
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    Continue wrapping the tape around the lower abdomen. Once the lower leg is secured, bring the roll up and over the lower back and around the front to the belly. The idea is to create a sort of girdle that anchors the leg band at two different angles. Repeat this wrapping pattern as many times as needed to fortify the sling. When you’re finished, the injured leg will be fully immobilized and ready to begin healing.[11]

    • To keep the sling nice and snug, pull the loose skin around the haunches taut before stretching the tape around the dog’s midsection.
    • Take care not to pull the tape too tight, as this could cause discomfort or restrict breathing.
    • Avoid wrapping male dogs in such a way that they have difficulty urinating.


Utilizing an Ehmer Sling Effectively

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    Use an Ehmer sling to stabilize recent dislocations. “Closed reduction” methods like Ehmer slings that restrict joint movement are most effective for dealing with injuries that have just occurred. Generally, it’s best to apply the wrapping within 24 hours of the incident. After that, there may be too much inflammation in the joint for a sling to be of any use.[12]

    • Consult your vet before deciding that an Ehmer sling is what your dog needs. Depending on the nature of the injury, it may not be the best way to ensure recovery.
    • Never wrap a joint that has been dislocated for more than about 3 days—this could end up doing more harm than good.
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    Leave the sling in place for a minimum of 7-10 days. It may take up to two weeks before you begin to see an improvement in the injured limb. The longest you should leave an Ehmer sling in place is 14 days, after which time the joint should be strong enough to support the dog’s weight while walking short distances.[13]

    • Assuming that it’s been applied correctly, the sling shouldn’t loosen up or come undone.
    • Keep the wrapping as dry as possible. Otherwise, there’s a chance the adhesive may wear off prematurely.
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    Check periodically for sores and other complications. Examine the area around your dog’s lower leg, thigh, and abdomen for signs of swelling, skin irritation, bruising, or thinning fur. Should you happen to discover any of these issues, reposition or remove the sling right away. When left unaddressed, they have the potential to pose serious health risks.[14]

    • Ask your vet what they recommend as your next best course of action.


How to Wrap a Dog’s Tail

There may come a time when your dog suffers from an injury known as “happy tail”. Contrary to the name, “happy tail” is anything but “happy”. Some dogs, especially large breeds with short hair, can injure his tail when wagging it.[1] Injury is sustained when the dog hits his tail against a hard surface or simply wags with such force that the tail ruptures. Follow these steps to help heal and protect your dog’s tail after an injury.


Wrapping the Tail

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    Assess the tail. Before you wrap your dog’s tail, look it over to make sure it actually needs a wrap. “Happy tail” will result in obvious blood loss from your dog’s tail and you should be able to see where the site of the wound is.

    • Try to contact your veterinarian. They will be able to wrap the tail and check for any other damage.
    • If you are unable to contact your veterinarian, you may have to wrap your dog’s tail yourself.
    • Wrapping a dog’s tail can help it to heal faster and prevent further injury.
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    Learn the overview of wrapping your dogs tail. The wrap will be done in three basic stages, applying ointment and gauze, wrapping in cotton for padding, and then taping the bandage to secure everything in place.

    • Ointment goes directly on the wounded area. Clean the area first and then make sure you cover the entire injury with ointment.
    • Gauze and cotton should cover the injury as well. These layers help add protection and keep the ointment where it needs to be.
    • Tape will be applied in two ways. First, apply the tape lengthwise, down the dogs tail and over the gauze and cotton. Then apply rings around those first pieces of tape, starting at the tip and working down the tail.
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    Gather the necessary materials. You will need a few key items to properly wrap your dog’s tail. Getting items together before you begin will allow you to work faster when you apply the bandage and minimize discomfort for your dog.[2]

    • Adhesive medical tape with a width of about one inch.
    • Antibiotic ointment (Mycitracin/lidocaine).[3]
    • Cotton. Larger pieces of cotton will be easier to work with.
    • One non-stick gauze pad.
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    Cut the adhesive tape into smaller pieces. You will want to pre-cut the tape in order to allow you to work quickly. The size of your dog’s tail injury will vary, so you may need more or less tape to wrap the tail. However, you can cut about ten strips of the adhesive tape to the following sizes:[4]

    • Two long pieces (eight inches)
    • Six short pieces (four inches)
    • Two half pieces (four inches in length, one half inch in width)
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    Place the ointment. The ointment will help to prevent infection as well as promote healing. Ointment will need to be reapplied every time you change the bandage.

    • Put ointment on the wound. Make sure you use enough to cover the injured area.
    • You may also want to put some ointment on the gauze bandage as well to ensure that it will come in contact with the wound.
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    Cut and place a piece of the gauze bandage. Take the gauze bandage and cut out a piece that will be big enough to cover the size of the wound. Gently wrap the bandage around the wound and secure it with the narrow pieces of tape.[5]

    • Don’t tape or wrap anything too tightly.
    • Try wrapping the tape down the tail in a spiral.
    • You can also try wrapping the adhesive tape around the tail, at each end of the bandage.
    • Make sure the gauze covers the wound fully.
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    Add the cotton. Take the cotton and place it around the wounded area of the tail. Make sure there is enough cotton to fully cover the area and provide enough padding to keep it from further injury.[6]

    • If you have a large piece of cotton, try wrapping it around the tail just like you would a bandage.
    • Wrap the cotton around the tail entirely at the site of the injury. The cotton should fully cover the gauze and provide padding to the injured area.
    • Carefully compress the cotton, making it conform to the shape of the tail. Be careful not to compress the cotton too forcefully as you may cause further injury to the tail.
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    Finish taping the tail. After you have the gauze bandage and cotton in place, you can start to tape them to the tail. The tape you are now adding will form the outside of the bandage as well as help to securely hold the gauze pad in place. These next pieces of tape will run lengthwise, down the dogs tail.[7]

    • Place an eight inch piece of tape lengthwise, parallel to the tail, over the cotton. The tape will start and end on the dog’s fur.
    • Place a six inch piece of tape slightly askew of the first eight inch piece. It should start and end in the same places; however, it will be angled off to the right somewhat, covering the first piece only slightly.
    • Add another six inch piece of tape in the same way, expect this time angle it to the left.
    • You should have three pieces of tape now, covering the wound, lengthwise down the dog’s tail. They should start and end in the fur, just past the ends of the gauze bandage.
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    Add more tape. Now that you have the bandage anchored to the tail, it’s time to add even more stability and protection. These next few pieces of tape will encircle the tail in rings, similar to the way a mummy is wrapped. Add the last few pieces of tape in the following way:[8]

    • Put a piece of tape around the first three pieces and your dog’s tail. Start towards the tip of your dog’s tail and work down.
    • Add the next piece of tape, just below this one. It should go all the way around the dog’s tail and cover the bandages and tape already affixed.
    • Keep adding tape in this way until you have covered the length of the bandage.
    • Make the last piece of tape overlaps the bandage, sticking to the fur of your dog’s tail.
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    Finish the bandage. Once you have covered the bandage with tape, you are almost done. These last few actions will fully affix the bandage to the tail and keep it secure.[9]

    • Pull a few bunches of hair out from underneath the last tape wrap.
    • Place these bunches of hair flat against the surface of the bandage.
    • Wrap one final piece of tape around these bunches of hair and the tail.


Promoting Healing and Protection

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    Visit your vet. After you have applied the first bandage, you should visit your veterinarian as soon as you can. You will want to check to see the extent of the damage and how best to treat it.

    • There may be broken bones in the tail that need advanced treatment.
    • Your vet may prescribe certain ointments or have alternative techniques for you to follow.
    • The dog may need stitches if the bleeding too profuse.
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    Change the bandage as needed. The bandage will need changing as it will either become soiled, wet, fall off, or be destroyed by the dog chewing it. Apply new bandages as you did before to keep the wound healing, protected, and safe from infection or further damage.[10]

    • Do not leave the bandage in place for more than a day.
    • Wet bandages will trap infections.
    • Most tail problems will heal in two weeks
    • Visit your veterinarian if the wound doesn’t seem to be healing.
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    Keep things calm. Happy tail results from your dog either wagging his tail so hard that it bleeds or hitting his tail on a hard surface. If you are able to lower the level of excitement in your dog, you will lower the chances of continued injury to your dog’s tail.[11]

    • If your dog gets overly excited when you return home, ignore them, until you get to a larger room that he can wag his tail in without worry of them striking a hard surface.
    • If your dog gets excited about going on a walk, prepare for the walk in a larger room, giving them more space and avoiding any injury to his tail.
    • Try to act calmly around your dog as this can result in calm behavior from them as well.
    • Try using the “sit” command. By having your dog sit, it will reduce the amount of force that he can wag his tail with.[12]
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    Remove the bandage. If the bandage needs to be on for more than a day, you will have to remove and change the bandage. Leaving a bandage on will increase the chances of infection and won’t allow the tail to heal as well as it could. Remove the old bandage by using the following methods:[13]

    • For any areas of the bandage where the fur is stuck to the adhesive, try soaking them in vegetable or olive oil for a few minutes. These oils will help break down the adhesive and allow for easy removal.
    • If your dogs wound is healed, you can also try using shampoo to remove the adhesive and painlessly take the bandage off.
    • For small amounts of fur that are stuck to the bandage, you may simply cut the fur away with a pair of scissors. Exercise caution when cutting the bandage away as it is easy to accidentally cut the dogs tail. If you are not confident doing this, you could take your dog to the groomer.
    • Pulling the bandage off will also pull your dogs hair out and cause it pain. Avoid this method of removal as your dog will come to fear bandages.
    • Do not use any harsh chemicals such as nail polish or rubbing alcohol as these can be harmful to your dog.


How to Wrap a Dog’s Shoulder

If your dog has a cut or bite on its shoulder or you think the shoulder is sprained, wrap it before taking your dog to the vet. Try to stop the bleeding of an open wound before you place a cotton bandage on it. Wrap the shoulder and chest to create a harness-type bandage. For a sprained shoulder, wrap an elastic bandage up and around your dog’s shoulder and front legs. Then get your dog immediate medical attention.


Stabilizing a Sprained Shoulder

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    Take action if you suspect a shoulder strain. If you notice that your dog is suddenly in pain or that their shoulder is gradually becoming more painful, look for other signs of a sprained shoulder. These can include:[1]

    • Licking the shoulder joint
    • Limping
    • Loss of appetite
    • Swollen joints or paws
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    Wrap sprains that limit, but don’t prevent, movement. Once you’ve determined your dog’s shoulder is sprained, pay attention to their range of movement. If the dog can still move their shoulder and leg, you can wrap the joint. If they can’t move the leg or joint, contact the vet immediately. Wrapping the shoulder could make the injury worse.[2]
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    Keep the dog standing and drape an elastic bandage over its back. The dog should be standing on all 4 legs. Unroll a long Ace-style elastic bandage and lay it over the dog’s back so both ends of the bandage hang evenly over its sides. The bandage should fall below the dog’s neck near its shoulder.[3]

    • You might need a helper to keep the dog standing still.
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    Pull the straps of the bandage under the dog’s chest. Use moderate tension to pull each bandage strap across and switch hands. For example, bring the right strap to your left hand and pull the left strap to your right hand.[4]
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    Wrap the straps around each of the dog’s legs. Bring each strap around the front of the dog’s legs near the joint. Wrap each strap around the leg 1 at a time using moderate tension. Avoid wrapping too tightly or you will cut off circulation to the leg. You should easily be able to slide your fingers under the bandage.
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    Bring the straps behind the legs and up to secure the bandage. Wrap each strap behind the legs and pull the straps up towards the dog’s back and shoulder. Tie a knot to keep the bandage from unraveling.[5]

    • Check to ensure that the bandage isn’t digging into the dog’s legs or back. If it is, you’ll need to loosen the bandage a little.
  7. 7

    Call the vet if the sprain is moderate to severe. If your dog can’t move their shoulder or leg, contact the vet. You should also talk with the vet if your dog’s minor sprain hasn’t gotten better after 2 days of being stabilized by a wrap.[6]

    • The vet will do x-rays to check for fractures that could be preventing the shoulder from healing.


Wrapping an Open Wound

  1. 1

    Keep the dog in standing position. Ask someone to help keep the dog in place so you can bandage the wound and wrap the shoulder. The dog should be standing so you can wrap the bandage under the dog’s torso.
  2. 2

    Press a cotton bandage on the shoulder wound. Dab the wound gently with clean cotton gauze. Then cut a cotton bandage to fit the size of the wound and place it directly on the open wound. Press down firmly with 1 hand to slow any bleeding.[7]

    • Consider wearing gloves to prevent introducing germs to the wound.
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    Wrap an elastic bandage around your dog’s torso and shoulder. Press 1 end of the elastic bandage on your dog’s back near its shoulder. Pull the bandage down and under its torso before bringing it back up near the shoulder. Bring the bandage down over the covered wound and wrap it around the dog’s leg to keep the bandage in place. Repeat this a few times to stabilize the shoulder.[8]

    • Use moderate tension to avoid cutting off circulation.
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    Wrap the bandage behind the dog’s neck and under the torso. To create a harness-type bandage that secures the shoulder, pull the bandage behind the dog’s neck and down onto its chest. Bring the bandage behind the leg of the affected shoulder and back up behind the dog’s shoulder. Wrap the bandage around the leg a few times for support.

    • You should see a V-shaped bandage on the dog’s chest.
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    Secure the bandage with medical tape. Pull off a few inches of medical tape and cut it. Tape the bandage in place along the dog’s back so the bandage doesn’t unwind. You may need to use a few pieces. If you don’t have medical tape, you can use masking tape or another strong tape that you have around the house.

    • Some bandages come with butterfly closures that secure the elastic bandage in place.
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    Run your finger under the bandage to check the fit. Slide your index finger under the bandage near your dog’s leg and chest. You should be able to easily slide your finger under the bandage from the shoulder down across the chest. If you can’t, the bandage is too tight and you should wrap it more loosely.[9]
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    Get your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible. These instructions are only meant to help you provide immediate first aid when necessary. If your dog has a deep, bleeding wound or you suspect the dog has a shoulder fracture, it will need medical treatment.[10]

    • The vet will remove your dog’s shoulder wrap to clean and examine the wound. The dog may need x-rays, injections, or stitches.


How to Treat Nosebleeds in Dogs

Nosebleeds may seem fairly harmless, but in dogs, they usually indicate something else is wrong. Therefore, it’s important to know what to do in the moment, such as keeping your dog still and applying an ice pack. You will also need to take your dog to the vet, so they can diagnose what’s wrong, as treating the underlying condition is important.


Providing Immediate Care

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    Stay calm. If you notice a nosebleed, don’t become frantic. Doing so will only make your dog upset and frightened. Instead, try to stay calm and collected. You can help your dog. You just need to stay cool-headed, so you can get it to the vet and get it treated.[1]
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    Check for breathing. Your dog primarily breathes through its nose, so when it gets a nosebleed, it may have trouble breathing. Make sure the dog is breathing okay before doing anything else. If it’s not, it’s time to go to the vet now.[2]

    • If your dog is having trouble breathing, you should be able to hear wheezing. Your dog may also be panting more, as well as breathing more rapidly.[3]
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    Apply ice and pressure. To stop the nosebleed in the moment, use an ice pack. Wrap ice in a cloth or washcloth so it isn’t too cold, then hold it up to your dog’s nose, on the bridge. Apply light pressure in the area. The cold should help the blood vessels narrow, making the blood stop flowing.[4]

    • You should apply pressure until the bleeding stops. If it hasn’t stopped after about 20 minutes, consider taking your dog to the vet.
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    Calm your pet. You don’t want your dog to move around too much. Moving around increases blood flow, which makes the nosebleed worse. Instead, try to keep it still by petting it and talking soothingly to it while you apply the ice pack.[5]

    • Continue calming your dog even once the blood as stopped flowing, as moving around too much could cause the clot to blow, creating a new nosebleed.


Diagnosing and Treating the Condition

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    See a veterinarian. A nosebleed is often a symptom of an underlying condition. Therefore, if you notice a nosebleed in your dog, you need to take it to the vet as soon as possible to get a diagnosis. Often, your dog will continue to get nosebleeds if the underlying condition isn’t treated.[6]

    • Expect tests. Because a nosebleed can indicate a wide variety of conditions, your doctor will need to do a full examination, plus a range of tests. The tests will likely include taking both a blood sample and a urine sample for analysis. Your vet may also order x-rays or a CAT scan to help to determine what is wrong.[7]
    • Nosebleeds in dogs can be caused by more minor issues such as high blood pressure, dental disease, a fungal infection, or mild trauma (including having something stuck in the nose). Your dog may also have a problem with blood clotting. Some more serious possibilities include the chance of a tumor or cancer, problems from eating rat poison, and diseases passed from ticks.[8]
    • The most common causes for nosebleeds are infections, trauma, and tumors.[9] A few other possibilities include Rocky Mountain spotted fever or a thyroid issue.[10]
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    Think about possible causes. It can help your vet if you think about possible connections to the nose bleed. For instance, if you know your dog got into rat poison (which can also happen if they eat a rodent contaminated with poison), that’s a connection. Another connection is if the dog experienced any trauma recently, such as running into something. Foxtails, a type of grass with a spiky end, can also be a problem if your dog has had a run-in with it recently, as the end can go up the dog’s nose and get stuck.[11]

    • Medications can also cause nosebleeds, particularly NSAIDs (like ibuprofen).
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    Understand how the vet may stop the nosebleed. If your dog’s nose won’t stop bleeding, your doctor may need to employ some other tactics than you used. They may use epinephrine drops on the nose, for instance, or they may put your dog under anesthesia and pack its nose with gauze.[12]

    • Your vet may also have to cauterize the end of the blood vessels to stop the nosebleeds.
    • If your dog has lost a lot of blood, it may need a blood transfusion, which your vet can provide.
    • Ask about antibiotics or antifungals for infections. If your dog has an infection, a round of antibiotics or antifungals may be needed to treat the infection. Once the infection has been banished by the medications, the nosebleeds should go away, too.[13]
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    Know a plasma transfusion may be needed. If your dog has von Willebrand’s disease, it may need a plasma transfusion to help treat it.[14] Von Willebrand’s disease, often inherited, is found in both dogs and humans. Basically, the blood doesn’t clot as well as it should, causing excessive bleeding.[15]

    • After the bleeding has stopped and your dog has had a plasma transfusion, your doctor may recommend that it begin taking a round of drugs intended to treat the disease.
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    Remove the object if something is lodged. If your dog ran into something that become lodged in its nose, the vet will need to remove the object. Doing so may cause more bleeding for a bit, but the nosebleeds should clear up eventually.[16]

    • Your vet may be able to remove the object with tweezers. If they can’t remove the object, they may need to move on to surgery.
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    Understand other options. If the problem is a tumor, a build-up from a fungal infection, or a badly lodged object, surgery will likely need to be performed on your dog. Of course, your vet will need to make this call, and they will provide you with the options you have for your dog’s care.[17]

    • Depending on what’s causing the problem, your dog may need other treatments, such as immunosuppressive therapy. Prednisone may be prescribed if the problem has to do with the platelets in the blood. Chemotherapy or radiation therapy may be needed if the cause is cancer. Your dog may also need to stay in the hospital for a period of time for treatment.[18]
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    Follow your vet’s directions at home. Once your dog comes home, you’ll need to follow all of your vet’s instructions. Your dog will need to be kept calm. A crate can help in severe cases. You’ll also likely need to give your dog medications, either pills or a spray for the nostrils, which your vet will show you how to apply.[19]


Noticing the Symptoms of a Nosebleed

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    Watch for blood. Obviously, the main symptom of a nosebleed is a slow, steady flow of blood dripping from your dog’s nose. However, you may not notice the flow right away. Watch for the skin around the nose changing color (turning darker because of the blood).[20]

    • You may also see swelling around the mouth and nose.[21]
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    Look for signs of distress. Even if you don’t notice the blood right away, your dog is likely to know something is wrong or different. It will likely paw at its nose as a nosebleed starts because it can feel the blood starting to come out.[22]
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    Give your dog’s breath a sniff. As a dog owner, you know dog breath is rarely pleasant. However, nosebleeds can cause even worse breath, particularly if they are chronic. If you notice your dog’s breath suddenly getting worse, it could be because of nosebleeds or the underlying cause.[23]
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    Pay attention to your dog’s eating habits. If your dog suddenly stops eating, that could also be a sign of nosebleeds. More likely, it’s a sign of the underlying condition causing the nosebleed. Either way, if your dog stops eating, it needs to see a vet.[24]

    • While your dog may still be eating, you should also note if it’s losing weight over time.
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    Check out your dog’s feces. This job is definitely not a fun one. However, you don’t need to dig around in your dog’s feces. Rather, you just need to note the color. If it’s especially dark and sticky, that could mean your dog has been swallowing blood from a nosebleed.[25]


How to Treat Frostbite in Dogs

Frostbite is a scary and dangerous winter hazard for your dog! Frostbite occurs after a dog has been outside in cold temperatures for too long. It causes damage to the skin tissue, and can result in your beloved pet losing part of their body. Frostbite can be minor or major, depending on how long the dog was exposed to the cold. To treat frostbite, look for the symptoms, warm the dog with warm towels and warm water compresses, and take them to the vet as soon as possible.


Treating the Frostbite Immediately

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    Move your dog inside. The first thing you should do for your dog is to get them out of the cold weather. You should move them into a warm environment, like your house. Make sure to be gentle with your dog, especially around the frostbitten skin.[1]
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    Treat any hypothermia first. If your dog has hypothermia or low core temperature, this needs to be treated before the frostbite. Wrap your dog in warm blankets or towels. You can also place water bottles filled with hot water around the body.[2]

    • Make sure to wrap the bottles in cloth to keep it from burning the dog’s skin, and make sure the blankets or towels you wrap around the dog are dry.
    • Symptoms of hypothermia include violent shivering followed by listlessness and a rectal temperature that is below 95°F (35°C). Other signs include a weak pulse, lethargy, and coma.
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    Cover the area with warm water. Gently warm the frostbitten skin with warm water compresses. You can also soak the affected area in warm water. Never place hot water onto frostbitten skin. This can cause additional damage.[3]

    • The best water temperature is between 104°F to 108°F (40 to 42°C).
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    Pat the skin dry. After your dog has warmed up, dry the skin and fur. Wet skin and fur can cause your dog to be chilled. Take a towel and gently pat the area dry.[4]
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    Avoid hurting the tissue further. Though you definitely want to get the dog warm again, you want to make sure not to hurt them further. Don’t rub or massage the frostbitten skin. This may cause additional damage.[5]

    • You should also not use any direct heat from heating pads, heaters, or hair dryers.
    • If for some reason you have to remain outdoors, don’t try to warm up the frostbitten skin unless you can keep it warm. More cold against the skin or refreezing will make the tissue damage worse.


Seeking Medical Attention

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    Take your dog to the vet as soon as possible. If your dog has frostbite, you should get them treated by a vet immediately. The veterinarian will examine your dog, evaluate the degree of damage, and take measures for treating the frostbite, as well as any other condition such as systemic shock or hypothermia.[6]

    • Wrap your dog in warm towels on your way to the vet. Don’t turn the heat up too high as you drive. Instead, keep the car at a mild, warm temperature.
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    Get pain medication. The vet may decide that the thawing skin will cause your dog too much pain. They may give your dog a prescription pain medication to help relieve their symptoms.[7]

    • Don’t give your dog any over-the-counter pain medications. Many of these medications can be toxic to dogs. This may also mean that the vet is not able to prescribe anything stronger to your dog for pain.
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    Have your dog undergo extra measures to warm up. If your dog is still not warmed up enough, the vet will do additional procedures to raise their temperature and unthaw the skin. They may be given warm IV fluids or a warm water enema to help raise their internal temperature.[8]
  4. 4

    Treat secondary infections with antibiotics. If your dog has severe frostbite that resulted in dead tissue, the vet may prescribe antibiotics. These medications will help prevent a secondary bacterial infection. If your dog already has an infection around the tissue, they will be given antibiotics.[9]
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    Remove dead tissue surgically. If your pet has dead tissue or dead body parts, they will need to be removed. The vet may amputate affected body parts or surgically remove the necrotic tissues. This is rare and only for severe cases.[10]

    • While your dog is anesthetized, the vet will debride the dead tissue to reach the healthy tissue. Several surgeries may be required to accomplish this since it may take time to see the full extent of the damage.


Identifying the Symptoms

  1. 1

    Check for pale, gray skin. Dogs that have frostbite will has discolored skin. This discoloration makes the skin appear pale, gray, or bluish instead of their skin normal color.[11]

    • This can be very hard to see, so you may need to look under their fur at different patches of skin.
  2. 2

    Monitor the most common areas affected. Frostbite is not easy to see on your pet. You may not notice they have frostbite unless you really check out their body. If you want to monitor your dog for frostbite, keep an eye on the extremities of the body.[12]

    • This includes the ears, lips, tail, face, feet, and scrotum.
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    Feel for cold skin. Another way you can tell if your beloved pet has frostbite is by touching it. Dog’s skin should be warm. Skin that is frostbitten will feel brittle or cold when touched, and the dog may also lack sensation in the affected areas.
  4. 4

    Search for red skin. When the frostbitten skin starts to warm up, it can become red and swollen. This area may be painful for your dog.[13]

    • The skin may develop skin blisters or ulcers if it’s second degree frostbite.
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    Notice peeling skin. If the skin that was frostbitten died, the dead tissue may start peeling off over a few weeks. This may be accompanied by cracking and extremely dry patches of skin.[14]
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    Look for darkened or dead skin. If your dog gets really bad frostbite, the skin will start turning dark. It may turn black after a few days. This is evidence of third degree frostbite.[15]

    • There may be a clear line between damaged and healthy tissue on the skin.
    • These areas may have pus from a bacterial infection and the affected area may have a foul smell.
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    Monitor your dog for days after being in extreme cold. The signs of frostbite may not appear immediately. Your pet may be suffering from frostbite for a few days before they even begin to show symptoms. After being outside with your dog in extreme cold conditions, or if they came into contact with ice or snow, watch them carefully for any symptoms of frostbite.[16]
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    Determine if your dog is at risk. Some dogs are more susceptible to frostbite than others. Knowing whether or not your dog is at a high risk can help you take extra precautions to protect them from frostbite. Small, short-haired dogs have a higher risk than other dogs.[17]

    • Dogs that are wet in cold weather can easily get frostbite.
    • Dogs that are sensitive to cold weather due to age or an illness may be more likely to get frostbite.
    • Dogs who spend long periods of time outside without adequate warm, dry shelter can easily develop frostbite.


How to Treat Lacerations on Dogs

Most dogs will inevitably end up with a few wounds. Rough playing, biting, and running into things can all cause cuts or tears, also known as lacerations, that need some tender loving care. Not all lacerations are equal however. There are some that can be successfully treated at home while there are others that will need the attention of a veterinarian to heal properly without complications. The key is to sort out which wounds you can treat at home and which ones need a doctor’s care.


Assessing a Laceration

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    Stay calm. Just like people, dogs can sense fear. If your dog becomes anxious or distressed, his blood pressure may rise and this can cause more blood to be expelled from a wound. Keep yourself and your pet calm.
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    Protect yourself and your pet from infection. After making your dog calm and comfortable, you should take the proper precautions to prevent infection to either you or your pet. Start by washing your hands thoroughly and donning gloves when available. Once gloved and clean, you can look at the dog’s wound.

    • If your dog is bleeding profusely you may not have time to do this. Apply a pressure bandage to stem the flow of blood. Once the bleeding is under control and your dog is not in danger of bleeding out, get her to the vet immediately.
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    Decide whether the wound is immediately life threatening and needs emergency treatment. If there’s excessive bleeding, or the cut looks very deep or long, you should get your dog to a vet immediately. To help slow the bleeding on the way, apply a clean towel or cloth to the wound and apply gentle pressure.

    • If in doubt, take your dog to a veterinarian immediately. Blood loss is serious and can lead to illness or death. Don’t risk your pet’s life in order to avoid a veterinary bill.
    • If possible, contact a friend to drive you and your dog to the vet. You can apply direct pressure to the wound using pressure applied to a clean gauze swab while your friend transports you. This is especially important if the vet isn’t near by — your dog may bleed out if you don’t slow the bleeding first.
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    Assess whether the laceration needs veterinary treatment. Simple lacerations are those that don’t involve the full thickness of the skin, the deep tissues under the skin, and that don’t involve an arterial blood supply.[1] While there is not a concrete consensus on classification of lacerations, if it was discovered less than six hours after the injury and it isn’t heavily contaminated, the laceration can be treated at home. Lacerations that need the attention of the veterinarian include:[2]

    • Eyelid wounds.
    • Most bite wounds.
    • Footpad injuries deeper than just a superficial scraping of the pad.
    • Lacerations that will not stop bleeding or that are spurting blood (indicating damage to an artery).
    • Large lacerations.
    • Deep penetrating wounds.
    • Lacerations that involve muscle, tendons, or ligaments.
    • Wounds that are heavily contaminated with mud, dirt, debris, manure.
    • Painful lacerations: even if it looks like a simple laceration, sometimes there is damage underneath the skin that may need the attention of a veterinarian.


Treating a Simple Laceration at Home

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    Gather supplies. You will need some medical supplies to treat your dog’s wound. Items needed include:[3]

    • Warm water: placing a small dog in a sink or a large dog in the bathtub works great for this, plus it makes cleanup easy.
    • Scissors or clippers (do not use electric clippers around water though).
    • Clean, dry towels.
    • Antiseptic cleaner.
    • Optional supplies: Triple antibiotic ointment, water-based lubricant (for protecting the wound from hair while clipping), and a muzzle (if your dog bites).
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    Protect yourself. Put on gloves to protect your hands. Also, if you think your dog may bite you, put a muzzle on him.

    • If you don’t own one, a simple one can be made by using a three foot length of gauze. Make a loop near the center. Place the loop over the muzzle and around the mouth. Tighten the loop and loop the two free ends behind the ears and tie in a snug bow tie.
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    Remove the fur around the wound. Place the dog in the bathtub or sink without running any water. Use a towel or bath mat on the sink or bath bottom to provide secure footing if needed. You may want to have a second person hold your dog steady while you work at carefully clipping the hair away from the wound edges. Remove an inch of hair around the wound.

    • You can place the lubricant in the wound prior to doing so to keep the hair out of the wound. It will wash away when you wash the wound.
    • The hair is clipped away to allow the wound to be seen easily, to keep hair from covering the wound, and to help when you need to wash away any drainage.
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    Clean the wound. After you are finished removing the surrounding fur, set the scissors or clippers aside and run the water until it is warm to the touch. Hot water or cold water will be painful, so avoid these temperature extremes. Run water over the wound for two to three minutes to remove any visible and invisible contaminants, and then gently wash with antiseptic for a minute. Too strong antiseptic can be damaging to tissue, so always following the directions on the label for the correct dilution

    • Rinse again for two to three minutes and then turn the water off.
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    Dry the wound. Blot the wound and surrounding skin dry. Be sure to use a clean towel, so that the wound does not get infected.

    • Generally the wound will be left open to heal, as it is hard to get bandages to adhere to the dog’s skin and they tend to chew them off.
    • You can place a thin layer of the antibiotic ointment on the wound, but dogs are likely to lick this off unless you keep a constant careful eye on them.
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    Monitor the laceration. With timely and proper wound care most simple lacerations will heal just fine. Look at the wound every couple of hours the first day, and then check it four to five times a day for the next couple of days. Look for any sign of infection, which include:[4]

    • Redness to the surrounding skin.
    • Failure to heal.
    • Swelling or puffy appearance to skin and wound.
    • Drainage beyond day one.
    • Pain.
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    Seek veterinary help, if needed. If in doubt, please seek veterinary help. Your pet may require antibiotics for any infection, or possibly stitches to close the wound.


How to Treat Gastric Torsion and Bloat in Labrador Retrievers

Gastric torsion is known by several names, including bloat, but the most technically correct term is gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV). GDV is a life-threatening condition, whereby the stomach flips over itself, sealing the entrance and exit. This causes a buildup of gas within the stomach which, when untreated, will kill the dog.[1] Labrador retrievers are one of a number of breeds that are predisposed to this condition because they have deep chests. If you have a Labrador retriever, you should be aware of the signs of GDV and how to get it treated, as well as how to try to avoid it in the first place.


Getting Treatment For GDV

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    Take your dog to a veterinarian. There is no home remedy or medication that you can give to a dog suffering to bloat. The treatment is surgical, to decompress and reposition the stomach. For this procedure, time is of the essence. Because of this, if you suspect bloat, take your dog to the vet immediately.

    • Your first action should be to phone the vet to warn them you are in the way in, and then take your dog directly to the clinic.
    • If your normal veterinarian’s office is closed, for instance the incident happens in the evening, take your dog to an emergency veterinarian.
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    Approve life-saving procedures. The first thing your vet will likely do is put the dog on a drip and give the dog high-rate intravenous fluids in order to control the shock and protect organs from shutting down. After this initial stabilization, the vet may try and pass a stomach tube.[2] If the vet is able to pass a stomach tube then it provides an escape route for the gas, and to stomach pump out the gut contents.

    • If the dog is co-operative, they may try to put the tube in using a gag (to stop the dog biting the stomach tube), although in many cases sedation is needed.
    • Sometimes if the twist is not a full 360 degrees, passing a stomach tube and then rolling the dog over can correct the twist.
    • If it’s not possible to pass a stomach tube the vet passes a large bore needle or a special catheter through the body wall into the stomach as an emergency measure to relieve the gas pressure.[3] This buys some time and helps stabilize the dog.
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    Discuss surgical options. It is essential that the dog has the stomach repositioned, and this can only be done by a laparotomy. The dog is given a general anesthetic and the vet opens into the belly. The direction of twist is identified and the stomach counter-rotated. Once in a normal position, the vet checks to see if any part of the stomach wall needs resecting as the tissue is dead. In addition, the spleen gets dragged out of position with the stomach and may need removing.[4] The vet will flush out the repositioned stomach either via a stomach tube, or by incising direct into the stomach.

    • Since there is a risk of re-twisting, the vet may opt to give an anesthetic and perform a preventative procedure called a gastropexy. This involves suturing the stomach to the body wall in such a way that it can’t physically flip over again.[5]
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    Give attentive after care. The period immediately after surgery is a dangerous time, as toxins flood into the bloodstream once the stomach is back in position. This can lead to irregular heart beats and a possible heart attack. The vet will monitor the patient and keep them on an intravenous drip to try and correct any rhythm disturbances with intravenous drugs.[6]

    • After the in-hospital recovery period, you will need to care for your dog as it recovers fully at home. Give it lots of love and attention but treat it gently and let it rest. Follow your veterinarian’s suggestions for after surgery care as well.
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    Reduce risk factors in the future. Certain factors have been identified as increasing the risk of bloat. While it is not possible to completely protect against GDV/bloat, you can lower the chances of it occurring by taking the following steps:[7]

    • Feed your dog from a bowl on the floor. There is an increased risk of bloat with dogs feed from a height.
    • Use a slow feeder bowl. Bloat is associated with gasping down air, in the manner greedy eaters do.
    • Feed your dog 2 or 3 meals a day, as one large meal is associated with increased risk.
    • Do not exercise for 90 minutes after eating. The weight of food in the stomach makes it more like to flip over.
    • Feed your dog a diet that is low in fermentable ingredients, such as grain or soy.
    • Do not allow the dog to gulp down lots of water after eating. Like eating food too fast, this can introduce too much air to the stomach.


Identifying Bloat

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    Look for the signs of GDV/bloat. Bloat occurs after eating, as the weight of food in the stomach makes it more pendulous. The risk is greatly increased if the dog is exercised soon after eating. The signs to look for include:[8]

    • Restlessness, pacing, and difficulty settling as if in discomfort.
    • Drooling saliva.
    • Trying to be sick but not bringing anything up.
    • Rapid breathing and a racing heart, even at rest.
    • Progressive swelling of the belly (this isn’t always obvious until the later stages).
    • Pale gums.
    • Collapse.
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    Take your dog to the vet if in doubt. Untreated bloat is ultimately fatal, often within hours. Also, the longer treatment is delayed, the greater risk of complications even if treated. Thus, it is crucial to seek emergency veterinary attention if you suspect that GDV is even a possibility.

    • It is better to have a false alarm than to wait and see what happens and have the dog deteriorate.
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    Understand how seriously and quickly bloat affects a dog. Bloat is such a serious condition for a number of reasons. Initially, not only is the stomach twisted with fermenting gut contents trapped inside, but the blood supply to the stomach is also twisted and impaired. This cuts off the blood supply to the stomach and its tissues start to die. The body rapidly goes into a state of shock, which in itself can be life-threatening.[9]

    • As the stomach swells, this compresses the major blood vessels to the abdomen and impedes blood returning to the heart, which worsens the shock. Also, toxins from the gut contents get into the bloodstream, and this plus electrolyte disturbances can trigger irregular heartbeats which can lead to a heart attack. In addition, micro blood clots form, which lodge in the organs and send them into failure.
    • A combination of shock, blood clots, and a necrotic (dying) stomach and (possibly) spleen, mean that some dogs die after only a few hours of illness.


How to Treat Dog Splinters

As much as your dog loves to play outside, he can occasionally get a splinter in his paws. Splinters can be very painful for your dog. Fortunately, treating a splinter is a relatively simple process that can be done in the convenience of your own home.


Removing the Splinter

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    Find the splinter. Depending on how deeply embedded they are in the skin, splinters are not always easy to see right away. Your dog will probably let you know with his body language where the splinter is. For example, your dog may continually paw at his mouth to try to remove a splinter in a particular paw. He may also lick and bite at whichever area has the splinter. If your dog is holding up one of his legs or is hesitant to put weight on a certain paw, the splinter is probably in that paw.

    • Splinters typically do not cause a lot of bleeding, so you may not be able to find the splinter by looking for a wound that’s bleeding.
    • In addition to using your eyes, use your hands to gently touch his paws to find exactly where the splinter is. Talk gently and softly with your dog while you are doing this to reassure him that he will be okay.[1]
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    Clean the affected area. Before attempting to remove the splinter, the area around the splinter should be cleaned thoroughly to prevent infection. Use warm, soapy water and a clean towel to clean the area.[2]

    • The area where the splinter is located is probably very painful, so be gentle when you are cleaning the area.
    • It may be helpful to fill a shallow bucket with the warm, soapy water. In this way, you could let your dog’s paw soak in the water, which may feel very soothing to him. Use a small towel to clean his paw while it is soaking.
    • Use another clean towel to dry his paw after you have cleaned it.
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    Sterilize your tweezers. Sterilizing your tweezers means that you are destroying microorganisms that could cause disease or infection. If your tweezers are not clean, you could cause a skin infection in the area where you remove the splinter. You can sterilize your tweezers by dipping them in rubbing alcohol.[3]

    • After you sterilize the tweezers, set them on a clean paper towel so that they can dry and remain clean before you use them.
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    Remove the splinter with tweezers. After you have your dog’s paw in your hand, get as good a grip as you can on the protruding end of the splinter with the tweezers. If the splinter is embedded too deeply into the skin, it will be very difficult to remove the splinter with your tweezers; if this is the case, you can sterilize a small needle and use the needle to pry the splinter up from under the skin. If you still cannot grip the splinter after using the needle, take your dog to your vet so that they can remove the splinter.[4]

    • Just like with cleaning your dog’s paw, be gentle when you are removing the splinter. Your dog is going to be pain while you’re doing this, so talk to him in gentle and soothing tones to reduce his anxiety.
    • Be careful not to push the splinter further into the skin, or break the splinter, when trying to pull it out.[5] If either of these things happens, take your dog to the vet so that they can remove the splinter for you.
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    Clean the affected area again. Just like with cleaning the affected area before removing the splinter, be gentle as you are cleaning the area after you’ve taken the splinter out. This area is still going to be sensitive and painful, so avoid vigorously cleaning the wound.[6]

    • Other than warm and soapy water, you can also use a solution that is 50% water and 50% hydrogen peroxide.[7] Hydrogen peroxide is a clear liquid that can be used to clean wounds and prevent infection.
    • Dry the affected area with a clean and dry towel.


Bandaging the Affected Area

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    Determine if the paw needs to be bandaged. Just as when you remove a splinter from your own finger, not all splinter wounds on dogs need to be bandaged after removal. If the puncture wound is tiny, and the dog is now happy to stand on the paw, then do not bandage. Instead, ease back on his exercise for a couple of days, and bathe the paw in salty water after a walk in order to remove road grit.

    • If after two days the area looks dry and clean, there is no pus or smelly discharge, and he is walking soundly, then you can return to normal.
    • Bandaging would be needed if the puncture hole is large, there is a smelly discharge from the hole, your dog still isn’t fully placing weight on his paw after several minutes, or you are not confident that the whole of the splinter came out.[8]
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    Apply triple antibiotic ointment to the affected area. Preventing infection will be very important after you have removed the splinter. To apply the ointment, place a thick coat of triple antibiotic ointment onto a clean, non-stick 2×2 gauze pad and gently press the pad against your dog’s paw.[9] Alternatively, you can apply the ointment directly to the affected area on your dog’s paw.

    • Neosporin is a triple antibiotic ointment for humans, but you can use it on your dog to treat the area from where you removed the splinter.[10]
    • If you choose to apply the ointment directly to the paw, you will still need to press the gauze against the paw to keep the ointment in place.
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    Secure the gauze pad to your dog’s paw. To do this, you will need two strips of adhesive tape that are several inches long. Rather than using Scotch tape, use the white adhesive tape that you can find at your local pharmacy.[11]

    • While still holding your dog’s paw up, attach one strip of tape on each side of the gauze and press the tape down on your dog’s leg several inches up from the wound. This should look something like a splint.[12]
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    Wrap cotton gauze around your dog’s paw. Cotton gauze is a roll of white, non-stick gauze that is available at your local pharmacy. Keep your dog’s toes uncovered as you wrap the gauze, and continue to wrap it several inches up your dog’s leg. Be careful not to wrap too tightly, since this could cut off circulation. Your dog’s toes will feel cold if there is no circulation. Wrapping too tightly could also cause your dog’s toes to swell. If you notice that you have wrapped the gauze too tightly, immediately loosen the gauze and wrap again more loosely.[13]

    • Keeping the toes uncovered will allow you to see if they’re swollen or feel cold.
    • If the gauze is too difficult to tear, use scissors to cut the gauze.
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    Wrap a self-adhesive bandage over the cotton gauze. The self-adhesive bandage will keep the cotton gauze in place. You can purchase this type of bandage at your local pharmacy. As with the cotton gauze, do not wrap this bandage too tightly.[14] Cut the bandage with scissors if you are not able to tear it.

    • Cover the bandage with a plastic bag when your dog goes outside to keep the bandage clean and dry.[15]
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    Prevent your dog from removing the bandage. Your dog will probably try to do everything he can to remove the bandage, which could lengthen the wound-healing process. Other than keeping a close eye on him and stopping him when you see him chew at the bandage, you can put an Elizabethan collar (e-collar) around his neck.[16] An e-collar is one of the most effective methods to keep a pet from bothering their bandage.

    • If he chews off the bandage, take this opportunity to inspect the affected area. If the area looks clean without signs of infection (redness, swelling, discharge), you probably will not need to reapply the bandage. If you are unsure, contact your veterinarian for advice.
    • If your dog has managed to remove the bandage, he may have also licked the Neosporin. Neosporin can be toxic to dogs, causing signs such as vomiting, drooling, and loss of appetite. If you observe these signs after your dog has removed the bandage, contact the Pet Poison Hotline or your veterinarian immediately.[17]
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    Remove the bandage after one to two days. The wound caused by a splinter is typically not very serious, so it is not necessary to keep the bandage on for an extended period of time. However, if you notice that the affected area hasn’t healed after several days, take your dog to your vet for closer examination.[18]

    • When you remove the bandage and clean off the excess triple antibiotic ointment, the affected area should look clean without any swelling. You should not see any redness or any type of discharge coming from the wound.
    • If you see swelling, redness, or discharge, it is quite possible that the wound has become infected. Take your dog to your vet for further treatment.


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