Category: Helping Dogs

How to Treat Bloat in Great Danes

Bloat, or gastric dilation, is a dangerous condition that happens to large-breed dogs, including Great Danes. This surgical emergency happens when the stomach fills with fluid and gas and expands. This can progress to the stomach twisting or rotation around its short axis, leading to shock, death of the involved tissues, and possibly death of the dog.[1] Because bloat is so serious, you should be able to spot the signs of the condition quickly, so that you can get your dog to a veterinary professional for treatment as soon as possible.


Spotting the Signs of Bloat

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    Monitor dogs that have risk factors for bloat. Middle-aged and older large and giant breed dogs with deep chests, like the Great Dane, are more susceptible to developing bloat than smaller breeds. In addition, there are other risk factors, which include:[2][3]

    • Siblings or parents that have experienced bloat
    • Once a day feeding.
    • Vigorous exercise before or after feeding time.
    • Rapid eating of food- which adds more air in the stomach.
    • Conditions in which the outflow of food from the stomach is slowed or impeded.
    • Feeding dry foods with a high oil or fat content.
    • Nervous or high strung Great Danes.
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    Look for the behavioral signs of bloat. Bloat occurs rapidly and needs immediate veterinarian attention to prevent the Great Dane’s death. If your dog is exhibiting any of the behavioral signs of bloat, you need to take the risk of bloat seriously. These include:[4]

    • Pacing
    • Restlessness
    • Reluctance to stand or walk
    • Inability to stand or walk
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    Keep an eye out for the physical signs of bloat. These are the tell-tale signs that your animal could be having a medical emergency. The physical signs of bloat in a Great Dane are:[5][6]

    • Excessive salivation
    • Retching or dry heaving without bringing anything up (The esophagus is involved in the twist so nothing can come back through the mouth.)
    • Abdomen (belly) becomes enlarged
    • Rapid and weak pulse
    • Pale gums
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    Take immediate action. If you see these signs contact a veterinarian immediately. Dogs can die soon after the signs appear, due to the damage done to internal organs, collapse of the circulatory (blood) system, toxin buildup, and shock.[7]

    • If your normal veterinary office is not open when you identify the signs of bloat, you should seek out an emergency veterinary clinic in your area. This is one situation that really is an emergency and requires emergency treatment.


Getting Veterinary Treatment

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    Take your dog to a veterinarian. The veterinarian will do a general examination, ask questions about the onset of signs, and take blood samples to check for signs of shock and internal organ damage. Radiographs (X-rays) are generally taken, which will demonstrate the bloated stomach along with the twist in the stomach.

    • In some cases, a needle will be stuck into abdominal cavity and suction is applied to the syringe. This is done to determine if the stomach has ruptured, an unfortunate outcome in some cases of bloat.
    • A tube may be passed through the patient’s mouth and into the stomach to relieve the pressure of air buildup. Occasionally a tube will be placed directly through the skin and muscle into the stomach to relieve the pressure in the stomach.
    • An intravenous (IV) line will be placed in a vein to provide medications and fluids.
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    Discuss surgical options for your dog. The treatment of bloat is surgery to untwist the stomach and to suture part of the stomach to the inside of the abdomen wall to prevent it from recurring. This is called a gastropexy.[8]

    • If the stomach ruptured the stomach will be repaired and the internal abdomen will be flushed. Dogs will be closely monitored after surgery. Generally the dog will be placed on antibiotics and pain killers before and after surgery.
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    Help your dog through recovery. Depending on your veterinarian clinic and how intensive the surgery was, the dog will need to remain hospitalized for up to 7 days. After that, you will need to be gentle with it and help it recover gradually. This means keeping it from licking or gnawing on stitches, as well as limiting its activity.

    • Sadly, up to 15% of dogs with bloat do not survive surgery despite the skill of the veterinarian.[9]


Preventing Bloat

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    Feed your dog multiple small meals a day. Researchers at Purdue University have compiled research into the causes and prevention of bloat in large-breed dogs, such as the Great Dane.[10] Through this valuable research, they have determined that many ways to prevent bloat revolve around how you feed your dog. One key prevention technique is to feed your dog multiple small meals, instead of one big meal.

    • For dry food feed, give your dog no more than one cup per thirty pounds of body weight per meal.
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    Do not feed from a raised bowl. Feed from a bowl on the ground, which provides a better angle for the dog. This also applies to water bowls as well.

    • There is some controversy surrounding whether this actually impacts a dog’s chances of developing bloat. However, what little research there is suggests that not using a raised dish may help.[11]
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    Slow down your dog’s eating. If your dog is a greedy eater and gulps its food, invest in a food dish that forces the dog to eat slower such as the slow feeder or fun feeder. Slowing down your dog’s eating will help it more slowly digest its food, and will lessen the chances the stomach turns due to excess food.[12]

    • You should also restrict gorging on water, as this can impact the dog’s stomach as well.[13]
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    Restrict activity immediately after eating. Wait one hour before and two hours after eating before letting your dog exercise or before going for walks. Especially avoid vigorous exercise that involve running, jumping, or swimming.[14]

    • Activity increases the chance of the stomach turning. Instead, let your dog have some quiet, calm time to digest its meal.
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    Control your dog’s diet. This means that if you live in a rural area, don’t allow your Great Dane to roam. He or she may find unsuitable food (deer or other animal carcasses, piles of grain left over from harvesting), gorge on them, and then develop bloat.

    • Also, do not feed table scraps to your Great Dane. A large-breed dog, such as the Great Dane, needs a controlled diet.
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    Feed an energy-dense diet. An energy-dense diet should be given to your dog to reduce the risk of bloat because it will mean that you have to feed the dog less for it to get enough calories. Check labels so that fat isn’t in the top four ingredients.[15]

    • Ask your veterinarian for advice if you are uncertain what to feed.
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    Do not feed an all dry food diet. Include wet foods, for instance the canned variety of the food you are feeding, or large meat chunks in the diet. Again, ask your veterinarian for advice if you aren’t sure what to feed.[16]

    • However, do not moisten dry food. Get a canned variety of the food if you want to add a little wet food to the diet.
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    Consider preventative surgery. Discuss with your veterinarian if your Great Dane would be a good candidate for a precautionary gastropexy. The procedure consists of attaching the stomach to the abdominal wall, which prevents it from turning. [17]

    • Military service dogs (large breeds like German shepherd and Belgian Malinois) are frequently given a precautionary gastropexy to avoid any emergency situations when they are on the battlefield.[18]
    • However, most owners opt to monitor their large and giant breed dogs, instead of taking this measure.


How to Treat Dog Bite Wounds on Dogs

If your dog is attacked by another dog, your dog may have wounds as a result of the fight. It is imperative that you determine how serious the bite on your dog is, and whether it requires an immediate emergency trip to the vet clinic or if it is a nip or surface bite you can treat at home. Unfortunately, some injuries may be deeper than they appear at first glance, so if you are ever in doubt or uncertain how serious the bite is, take your dog in to your vet to check the severity of the bite.


Determining if the Dog Bite Requires a Vet

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    If your dog is bleeding heavily, take him to the vet. Blood pumping from the wound is a sign that an artery or large vein has been damaged. The blood vessel may need to be ligated (tied off) in a surgical procedure done by your vet.
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    Use a sterile gauze swab to apply pressure to the wound. Do this as a first aid measure on the way to the vet. You will find sterile gauze swabs in a first aid kit.

    • If you don’t have a first aid kit handy, you can use an article of clothing like a cotton t-shirt to create a pad and press it against the wound with sufficient pressure to stop the bleeding. After 5 minutes, cautiously lift the pad up. If the bleeding starts again, replace the pad and hold it in place until you arrive at the vet clinic.[1]
    • Use a cotton t-shirt rather than a wool sweater or anything fuzzy, as fibers from these materials can get into the wound.
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    Check your dog to see if they have rapid, shallow breathing. This is a possible indication of shock, which can be life-threatening in it’s own right, or that a tooth has penetrated into your dog’s chest and is allowing air to enter the thoracic cavity. Take them to the vet clinic as soon as possible.

    • If you can see a wound over your dog’s ribs, place a pad (a sterile gauze swab or a folded cotton t-shirt) over the wound and either hold it there, or secure it in place with a tie or belt, tied around the dog’s chest. You are trying to seal off the hole to prevent air from entering your dog’s chest and causing his lungs to collapse.
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    If your dog displays any weakness, pale gums, or loses consciousness, take him to the vet. There are all signs of possible shock or internal bleeding. Stop any obvious hemorrhage with sterile gauze or a cotton pad, cover the dog with a coat or blanket to keep him warm, and make your way to the vet clinic.[2]
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    Search for any large wounds or flaps of skin on your dog. If your dog was shaken in the jaws of their attacker, a large wound or skin flap may have been torn away from the underlying tissues.
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    Use sachets of sterile saline from a first aid kit to flush the wound. If you do not have access to a first aid kit with saline, you can make a salt water solution.

    • Use 16 ounces of previously boiled water and stir in one teaspoon of salt. Allow the solution to cool to body temperature and then soak cotton wool in the salt water, and use it to clean your dog’s injuries.
    • If you do not have access to sterile saline or time to make a salt water solution and your dog’s wound warrants a trip to the vet, don’t worry about this step. Your vet will be sure to thoroughly flush the area.
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    Clean any wounds as best as you can before heading to the vet. To clean the wound, snip the corner off a saline sachet and squirt the fluid over the wound. This flushes away contaminants and reduces the risk of infection setting in. Reserve a small volume of saline and use it to moisten the sterile dressing pad in the first aid kit. Place the moist dressing pad over the wound and bandage it in place. This keeps the exposed tissue moist on the way to the clinic and in optimal condition for suturing.[3]


Determining if the Dog Bite is Treatable at Home

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    If your dog is bright, alert, and the wound is not bleeding, you can clean the wound at home. A nip or skin wound is fine to treat at home. Once you clean the wound, you can contact your vet to confirm if the dog should be brought in to be checked.
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    Clip the fur around the wound. To see the full extent of the damage, use a pair of scissors, ideally with curved blades, to trim the hair away from the wound edges. Start trimming at the wound edge and snip around the area until the whole wound is exposed. Repeat this for all the bite wounds you can see.[4]

    • Keep the blades parallel to the dog’s skin, and look carefully to make sure you are not about to snip any skin. You may want to keep the scissors a fraction of an inch above the dog’s skin to prevent accidental injury.
    • Curved scissors help you to avoid accidental snips because the blade curves away from the skin. You can improvise with a pair of nail scissors if you do not have curved scissors.
    • If you use a small pair of regular scissors, work with the tips rather than the whole blade for finer control.
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    Bathe the wound in saline solution. Saline solution is ideal because it is sympathetic to the exposed tissue and will not dry it out.

    • If you do not have access to a first aid kit with saline, you can make a salt water solution. Use 16 ounces of previously boiled water and stir in one teaspoon of salt. Allow the solution to cool to body temperature and then soak cotton wool in the salt water, and use it to clean the injuries.
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    Ask someone to assist you as you clean your dog’s wound. Your dog will likely wiggle around and get jumpy or cranky as you try to assess and clean the bite, so ask a friend or neighbor to hold his head to steady him.

    • If you cannot get someone to assist you, use a tie or cord as a muzzle. To do this, wind the tie around and around his muzzle with his mouth shut, and then tie the ends on themselves.[5]
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    If your dog has puncture wounds, bring him to the vet. Puncture wounds are usually circular and measure less than a quarter of an inch across. These wounds are inflicted by the attacker’s canine teeth and do not always need to be sutured as they may heal on their own. But it’s best to get the puncture wound checked by a vet, because sometimes there is a pocket of dead space beneath the puncture.

    • Dead Space occurs when the skin is wrenched away from the underlying tissues and is no longer attached. This forms a pocket, into which seepage of serum, or pus, can prevent healing. Dead Space may need surgical attention to tack it down, in order for the wound to heal.[6]


Understanding How Your Vet Will Treat the Bite

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    Ask your vet to assess the extent of the bite and determine if sutures are needed. If the wound does not need suturing, you can expect it to scab over, and a week or so later the scab will peel away to reveal healed tissue underneath.

    • Check the scabbed area every day to ensure it is dry and there is no pus present. Daily bathing with a cotton wool ball soaked in saline helps to keep the area clean and reduce the risk of infection. If the area starts to swell, or pus is discharging from the wound, consult with your vet.
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    Allow your vet to suture the wound. Wounds longer than half an inch may need suturing. This can often be done under sedation and local anesthetic, unless the dog is aggressive or the wound in a difficult to access,in which case general anesthesia is required.

    • Your veterinarian freshens the wound edges to provide a healthy healing surface and then places sutures. These stay in place for 10-14 days and can be removed without sedation, since it is a non painful procedure to snip the suture and pull it out.
    • Check the sutures every day to make sure the area is dry, there is no pus discharge and it is not swollen. If the wound gets muddy, keep it clean by gently bathing it with cotton wool soaked in salty water.
    • Make sure your dog can not lick at the wound, which may mean covering the wound with a T-shirt or putting a buster collar on the dog. If the wound becomes red, swollen, or there is a pus discharge, check in with your vet.
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    Get pain relief medication from your vet. Your dog is likely to be bruised and sore, and 4- 5 days of pain relief will be a much needed kindness for him. Usually, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are supplied. These act by inhibiting the release of chemical messengers (cyclooxygenases) in the body that encourage inflammation and pain.[7]

    • This medication will come as a liquid and should be given with or after food in order to reduce the risk of gastric ulceration.
    • The dose is 0.1mg/kg given orally once a day. A typical dose is 1 milliliter (0.034  fl oz) of meloxicam (1.5mg/ml strength) for each 15 kg of body weight.[8]
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    Ask your vet if antibiotics are needed. Depending on the vet, they may or may not prescribe antibiotics, but dog bites are not sterile so antibiotics are a wise precaution.

    • A broad spectrum antibiotic like a potentiated amoxycillin can work against the bugs commonly found in a dog’s mouth. This antibiotic acts by interfering with the bacterial metabolism and also disrupts their cell membrane.
    • A typical dose is 12.5mg/kg twice a day orally for 5-7 days. So, for example, a 20 kg dog takes a 250mg tablet twice a day.[9]


How to Treat Canine Stroke

Witnessing your dog suffering with any type of illness or discomfort can be very unsettling for an owner. The signs of a canine stroke can be extremely frightening, although it is important to remember that this condition does not generally affect dogs as severely as it does humans. Learn to recognize the warning signs of canine stroke so that you can respond appropriately if this happens to your dog. If you think your dog has had a stroke, seek help from a vet right away and follow all treatment instructions carefully.


Recognizing Canine Stroke

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    Look for the symptoms of canine stroke. Canine stroke typically occurs when blood vessels in the brain rupture (hemorrhagic stroke) or become blocked (ischemic stroke). The symptoms of canine stroke may appear quite suddenly, and may also be different from the typical signs of stroke in humans. Your dog may have had a stroke if it:[1]

    • Walks in circles for no apparent reason.
    • Holds its head tilted to one side.
    • Turns the wrong way when called.
    • Has difficulty balancing, standing, or walking.
    • Experiences extreme lethargy.
    • Has sudden problems with bladder and bowel control.
    • Shows signs of loss of vision.
    • Suddenly collapses.
    • You may also notice your dog’s eyes moving rapidly from side to side as if following a moving object (nystagmus). Stroke is only one possible cause of nystagmus, but it is always a good idea to get this symptom evaluated by a vet.
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    Assess your dog’s risk factors for stroke. You can help your vet diagnose canine stroke and identify potential underlying causes more quickly by letting them know if your dog has any common risk factors for stroke. Stroke may be more likely to occur in elderly dogs and dogs with a history of:[2]

    • Head injury or trauma.
    • Heart disease.
    • Diabetes.
    • Kidney disease.
    • Endocrine disorders, such as thyroid disease or Cushing’s disease.
    • Brain tumors.
    • Exposure to some types of poison.
    • Certain parasites or tick-borne diseases, such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
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    Bring your dog to the vet’s office for testing. If you suspect your dog has a stroke, take them to the vet immediately. Tell your vet about your dog’s symptoms and health history. In addition to examining your dog and observing their behavior, your vet may use imaging tests as an MRI, CT scan, or standard X-rays in order to confirm or rule out a stroke.

    • Your vet may perform other tests, such as a spinal tap, in an effort to check for other conditions and diseases with similar symptoms.
    • The vet will be looking for bleeding, clots, inflammation, or masses in the brain.
    • Treat any symptoms of stroke as a medical emergency. Early medical intervention may help ensure the best possible outcome for your dog.


Getting Medical Care for Your Dog

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    Begin treating the underlying cause of the stroke. If tests reveal canine stroke, your doctor will discuss with you the causes that led to the condition. There are no specific treatments for a stroke except for targeting the underlying cause of the condition.[3]

    • An ischemic stroke is associated with such conditions as diabetes, improper functioning thyroid glands, heart or kidney disease and hypertension. A hemorrhagic stroke is often due to a blood clot, hypertension, rat poisoning and compromised blood vessels.
    • Other causes of stroke include brain tumors and head trauma. Once the condition is diagnosed as a canine stroke and the underlying cause is identified, your vet can implement a treatment plan.
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    Follow your vet’s instructions for home care. Most cases of canine stroke can be managed at home, once the vet has made a diagnosis. Your vet may prescribe medications, and they will also explain how to care for your dog and monitor its condition at home. Your dog may feel disoriented and have difficulty walking. Home nursing for your dog may involve:

    • Making sure your dog has a comfortable bed.
    • Carrying your dog outside so it can go to the bathroom.
    • Placing food and water within easy reach near your dog’s bed.
    • Giving your dog any medication prescribed by your vet.
    • You can also give your dog a daily massage to increase its ability to move around. Use the palm of your hand to rub its entire body.
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    Allow your dog to be hospitalized, if your vet recommends it. For severe strokes or strokes caused by trauma, the vet may wish to keep your dog in the hospital for observation and treatment. If the cause of the stroke is trauma, the first step will be to decrease any swelling within the brain and to keep re-hydrating your dog. Your dog will be given an IV of fluids so that he can get hydrated.

    • Medications such as Amlodipine may be administered to control high blood pressure, if the stroke was caused by hypertension.
    • Other medications may also be given, including an anti-inflammatory such as an NSAID if swelling is evident, antibiotics for a diagnosis of infection, a sedative for ataxia and disorientation, an antiemetic for vomiting and stomach distress, and anticonvulsants to control seizures.
    • Your dog will be placed in a soft, comfortable position during treatment so that his head is not laying below the rest of his body. This position will help to promote proper blood flow.
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    Make sure your dog is monitored at all times during recovery. At-home care involves constant monitoring of your pet during recovery. You may need to employ the assistance of others, such as having your neighbor look in on your dog if you have to leave the house. You could also hire a pet sitter to keep an eye on your dog when you are away.

    • Consider taking long lunch breaks to go and check on your dog, or work from home if you are able to. You could also ask if you can bring your dog to work.
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    Give your dog any medications prescribed by the vet. Medications may also be prescribed to help your dog fully recover from a stroke and possibly prevent further attacks. Dogs with symptoms of ataxia and disorientation may be given a sedative. Other medications may include:

    • An antiemetic for vomiting issues.
    • An anti-inflammatory for swelling symptoms.
    • Antibiotics for infections.
    • Anticonvulsants to control seizures and prevent future strokes.
    • Antiplatelet drugs similar to Plavix, an anticoagulant for long-term therapy for the prevention of blood clots.
    • Drugs that increase the supply of blood oxygen to the brain, such propentofylline (Vivitonin).
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    Discuss your dog’s prognosis with your vet. How quickly your dog recovers depends on a variety of factors, including the severity of the stroke and any underlying health problems. Severe strokes may lead to permanent disability. However, with proper treatment, you can maximize your dog’s quality of life and help it adjust to problems such as poor balance.

    • Your vet may recommend physical therapy to help your dog regain functionality and learn to compensate for permanent physical symptoms.


How to Treat Anaphylactic Shock in a Dog

If your dog suffers an exaggerated and serious allergic reaction to an insect bite or to something that he has consumed or come into contact with, your dog can go into anaphylactic shock. This will mean that your dog can suffer from gastro-intestinal reactions, an inability to breathe properly, shock, and unconsciousness. Anaphylaxis in dogs is extremely serious, just as it is in a person, and your dog’s best chances of survival are getting him to the vet or animal hospital as quickly as possible. This article explains what you should do.


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    Check for symptoms of anaphylactic shock. Dogs react differently from other animals, humans included, in that it is the liver rather than the lungs that is affected by anaphylactic shock.[1] This results in gastro-intestinal symptoms.[2] Symptoms usually include:[3][4]

    • Sudden diarrhea, defecation, urination
    • Vomiting
    • Itchiness (pruritus) and hives (urticaria)
    • Drooling excessively (hypersalivation)
    • Weakness
    • Difficulties with breathing (shallow, rapid), stridor (harsh breathing sounds)
    • Gums turning paler
    • Overly excited or lethargic
    • Elevated heart rate (tachycardia) and poor pulse
    • Cold limbs
    • Seizures
    • Unconsciousness and ultimately coma and death if left untreated.
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    Call your veterinarian or emergency vet quickly. Tell the veterinarian what has happened, let them know that you are bringing in your dog immediately and follow any instructions given to you over the phone.
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    Get your dog to the vet immediately. There is very little time–your dog needs immediate emergency veterinary attention, including intravenous injections of epinephrine (adrenalin) to counteract the reaction.[5] You will not have what is needed to treat anaphylactic shock in your home.
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    Have someone else help if possible (one drive, one care for the dog). Grab a neighbor if nobody else is at home. While getting to the vet’s, try to do the following:

    • Keep your dog calm and reassured. Do not play radio or music in the car at a loud volume. Speak soothingly; try really hard not to convey your own panic to the dog.
    • If your dog is still able to move, let your dog find his own most comfortable position–likely he will adjust to the position that helps him breathe as much as possible.[6]
    • Cover your dog in something warm such as a blanket. Do not wrap it around him or distress him by fiddling, shifting him, disturbing him in any way.
    • Keep your dog’s airway clear. This is especially important if he falls unconscious.
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    Expect your vet to perform the following:[7]

    • Administration of an intravenous catheter with aggressive “shock dosages” of fluids to counteract the low blood pressure.
    • Epinephrine will be given to increase the heart rate.
    • Other drugs may be given, according to the vet’s discretion. Oxygen may be given also.
    • Antibiotics are often given after rescuing a dog from an episode of anaphylactic shock, to prevent the chance of a secondary bacterial infection.
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    Expect your dog to remain with the vet for another 24 to 48 hours if he makes it through. The vet staff will continue to monitor his progress with blood samples, etc. Your dog will only be allowed home when he can urinate properly.[8]


How to Treat a Dog Sneezing Blood

It can be very disconcerting to see blood come out of your dog’s nose when it sneezes. A bleeding nose can be caused by a variety of factors, including trauma, an infection, or a tumor, among other causes. If your dog’s nose is bleeding then you should try to slow the bleeding, keep your dog calm, and consult with a veterinarian about whether the dog needs immediate veterinary treatment or not.[1] Even if the bleeding ends quickly, your dog should get seen by a veterinarian if it ever bleeds when it sneezes.


Giving Immediate Care

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    Keep your dog calm. If your dog is actively bleeding it may be upset or agitated by that. Focus on keeping the dog calm by petting it and reassuring it if you can. This will help its mental state, as well as keeping its blood pressure down and thus limiting the amount of bleeding.

    • However, do not give it any medication to keep it calm unless you discuss that option with a veterinarian before you do.[2]
    • Also put the dog in a location where it is comfortable but its blood will not damage any surfaces in your home. This will help you focus on your dog’s health instead of mopping up blood immediately.
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    Put a cold pack on your dog’s snout. If your dog’s nose continues to bleed after it sneezed, try icing the area to stop the bleeding. Icing the area will restrict the blood vessels, hopefully cutting off the flow of blood that is coming out of your dog’s nose.[3]

    • It can be difficult to ice the nose of a dog. Be patient and calm with your dog and do what you can.
    • If you are unable to ice your dog’s snout, usually due to resistance from the dog, then you should simply focus on getting it to a veterinary clinic for treatment instead.
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    Contact your veterinarian. Call your veterinary office if it is open and tell them what is occurring with your dog. If your dog only expelled blood while it sneezed and no more blood followed, then it is likely that you can wait for an appointment to get your dog checked out.[4]

    • If your dog is actively bleeding, take your dog immediately to a veterinarian but call the veterinary office on the way to warm them that you are coming in. This will allow the veterinary office staff to prepare for dealing with a bleeding animal.
    • If your dog sneezed blood and then no more blood came out that doesn’t mean that you can forget about it and not take your dog to a veterinarian. Any time a dog sneezes blood it should be seen by a veterinarian.


Getting Veterinary Treatment

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    Take your dog to a veterinarian. If your dog’s nose bled or is bleeding it should be taken to a veterinarian. If the bleeding stopped quickly after the sneeze, then you can call your veterinary office, discuss the issue, and make an appointment to bring your dog in. If the bleeding has not stopped or took a long time to stop, then the dog should be taken to a veterinarian immediately, as the blood loss alone can be a threat to your dog’s health.

    • If your regular veterinary office is closed while your dog’s nose is bleeding, then you should take your dog to an emergency pet hospital in your area. If your dog’s nose stopped bleeding shortly after the sneeze, call the emergency pet hospital and discuss whether to bring the dog in or to wait until the dog’s normal veterinary office is open.
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    Approve veterinary testing. In order to get a diagnosis, your veterinarian will need to do a variety of tests on your dog. These tests, which may require several rounds of testing, will allow your vet to narrow in on the cause of the bleeding. Possible tests your vet will want to perform include:

    • Blood cell count
    • Urinalysis
    • X-rays
    • Rhinoscopy[5]
    • Blood pressure
    • Cultures from nose
    • Additional specialized testing
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    Treat the underlying cause of bleeding. There are a variety of things that could be causing your dog’s nose to bleed. Once your veterinarian gives you a definitive diagnosis, they should also present you with a treatment plan.[6]

    • Your dog’s bloody nose could have simply been caused by the force of your dog sneezing or by a foreign body in the nose. If this is the case your dog should easily recover on its own once any foreign bodies are removed. However, this may not be the case if there is an underlying problem with the dog’s blood clotting ability.
    • Your dog’s bloody nose could be caused by a simple sinus infection. A sinus infection is usually treated with a round of antibiotics and can be cleared up quickly.[7]
    • Your dog’s bloody nose could be caused by a tumor. Treatment for a malignant tumor usually includes surgery and chemotherapy, although these treatments can be difficult for tumors in the sinuses.[8]
    • Your dog’s bloody nose could be caused by an infection in its teeth that traveled up into its sinus cavity. If the dog’s teeth are infected, your dog will need to go to a veterinary dentist and have its dental infection treated.


How to Treat a Sprained Ankle on a Dog

A sprained ankle is an injury to the tendons, ligaments, and/or the muscles related to that joint. This can occur as a result of strenuous play or minor accidents. Quickly recognizing the signs of an injury to this area is key to treating it before it develops into a more significant problem.


Recognizing the Signs of a Sprained Ankle

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    Understand your dog’s anatomy. Dogs actually stand and walk on the toes of their front and rear legs. When a dog is standing, you will see its ankle on its hind leg between the knee and the toes. This is similar to where a your ankle is when you stand on your toes.[1]

    • Dogs do not have ankles on their front legs, just as you don’t have them on your arms. Other types of sprains can occur in the front legs, and they are treated similarly.
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    Know the causes of a sprained ankle. Many dogs are athletic. The activities they take part in can put an extreme amount of force and stress on their joints and sometimes this results in an injury.[2]

    • Running, jumping, and making sharp and quick turns can put undue stress on a joint.
    • While not all dogs are equally energetic, their joints can also be put under more stress than they can handle. A sprain can also be the result of slipping, falling, stepping in a hole, or something as seemingly minor as jumping on or off the couch. Any of these can cause your dog to end up with a sprain.
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    Look for limping. The first, and usually the most recognizable sign of an ankle sprain is limping on the affected rear leg.[3]

    • A dog with a sprain will often try not to put weight on the affected leg.
    • Depending on the severity, the dog may carry the leg in a raised position, not using it at all.
    • Be aware of other common reasons for rear leg lameness. Injuries to the hip, knee, or foot area can also cause a dog to limp.[4]
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    Look for a visible injury. You may see swelling or redness around the ankle if your dog has a sprain.[5]

    • You may also notice your dog regularly licking the area.
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    Look for behavioral signs. An injured dog may also display changes in its normal behavior. Changes to look for that can suggest an injury include:[6]

    • A change in appetite, usually apparent in decreased food consumption
    • A change in activity level, such as sleeping more or a reluctance to exercise
    • Vocalization related to the injury, such as barking, grunting, or whining when the ankle is touched or moved


Treating a Sprained Ankle

  1. 1

    Make your dog rest. Rest is the first step to treating a sprain.[7] To ensure your dog gets enough rest, you will need to restrict your dog’s activity. You should keep the dog inside or in a small area where it is unable to run or play. The less active the dog is, the better.

    • As needed, you can take your dog outside on a short leash. Keep the walk short and slow.[8] Return the dog to a confined area as soon as possible.
    • Restrict the dog’s activity for a full 48 hours to give the injury enough time to heal.
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    Apply an ice pack. To reduce swelling, help with pain, and aid in the healing process, apply an ice pack for 10 to 15 minutes.[9]

    • Wrap the ice pack in a towel to protect the dog’s skin from any excessive cold.
    • Repeated as needed, waiting at least two hours between applications. This will help prevent irritating the skin and reducing circulation, which can delay healing.
    • You can use a bag of frozen vegetables, such as peas, for an ice pack that you can mold around the ankle. This will allow you to evenly and effectively apply the ice to all of the damaged tissue.[10]
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    Apply heat. If your dog has an older, chronic, or recurrent injury it is not recommended to apply an ice pack. At this stage of an injury it is best to apply moist heat.[11]

    • Heat will improve circulation and help to loosen tightness in the muscles while having a soothing effect.
    • To apply heat, use a damp towel warmed in the dryer or microwave. Be sure the towel isn’t hot enough to burn the skin.
    • Apply heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Then, remove it for at least an hour before applying again.[12]
    • Don’t use a heat treatment immediately after exercise.
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    Watch for signs of improvement or worsening. During the 48 hour rest period you should watch closely for signs that the injury is improving or worsening. With rest and treatment, most ankle sprains will be back to normal fairly quickly.

    • If the leg is not better after 48 hours or if it is getting worse, consult with your veterinarian.[13]
    • If you don’t see improvement, it’s possible that your dog may just need more rest, along with some veterinarian-prescribed medication.
    • Sometimes, there can also be an injury in another area that is delaying recovery. If there is a more serious injury, such as a dislocation or small fracture, your vet can do a full examination and X-rays if needed.


How to Treat a Snakebite on a Dog

Not all snakes are venomous but if your dog is bitten by a venomous snake then every second counts. A dog’s relatively small size means it could be at grave risk of death and you need to act quickly. The seriousness of the incident depends on the type of snake, the amount of venom injected, and the size of the dog. Your dog’s best chance of survival is to immediately take it to a veterinarian with anti-venom, so in most cases it’s best to assume the worst, know how to act, and seek prompt help.


Preventing Snakebites

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    Make your yard unattractive to snakes. This is important if you live in an area that has venomous snakes. Clear away brush piles and undergrowth. You want to minimize the places that a snake will hide.[1]

    • Also make your yard unattractive to rodents. If you have rodents in your yard, and you live in an area that generally has snakes, then snakes will be attracted to the area. Keep food, including bird seed, out of your yard, so that rodents are not attracted there.
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    Keep an eye on dogs that are more likely to get a snake bite. There are some dogs that are more likely to get a snake bite. With this in mind, you should take preventive measures to avoid the potential for snakebites happening to your dogs.

    • Dogs are naturally inquisitive when young and puppies often think a snake is a moving toy. Keep an eye on puppies or young dogs when in areas populated by snakes.
    • Hunting dogs are at greater risk because of their instinct to hunt. When young and agile, they may be able to attack a snake and succeed in killing it before the snake bites. However, as the dog’s agility lessens with old age, the outcome may not be so successful and older hunting dogs tend to get bitten.
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    Be cautious with your dog during times of the year when snakes are active.Snakes are more active in the warmer months and tend to hibernate during winter.[2]Early spring bites will carry the most potency, as the snake’s venom glands have built up during hibernation.

    • Remember, prevention is always better than cure; it makes sense to take precautions to avoid snakebite in the first place.
    • Keep dogs out of long grass or shade shrubberies where snakes are likely to lie hidden.


Assessing a Snake Bite

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    Understand the possible severity of a snake bite. Being bitten by a snake causes a range of problems of varying severity. At the milder end of the scale is the pain and discomfort caused by a penetrating bite, which can include soreness, inflammation, and pain locally on the skin. On the other end, a snake bite can lead to death.

    • Depending on the snake’s species, the toxin it injects may either be a neurotoxin (affecting the nervous system) or a hemotoxin (affecting the blood and circulation). This can lead to rapid paralysis (neurotoxin), including the muscles of respiration so the victim slowly suffocates, or a life-threatening inability to clot blood, organ failure and shock (hemotoxin).[3]
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    Be aware that snakes do not envenomate (release venom) with every bite. This depends on whether they have recently bitten something else, and also on the time of year.[4] Observe the pet closely, but if in any doubt seek veterinary attention.

    • It is better to travel to the vet’s to discover the dog is fine, than wait until symptoms appear by which time treatment could be too late.
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    Look for the symptoms of a venomous snake bite. Bear in mind that some of the symptoms are general, such as vomiting, which means that it is not the case that every vomiting dog has been bitten by a snake. These general signs become significant if the dog also has puncture marks, possible exposure to snakes, and rapidly developing symptoms. Here are some of the symptoms to be expected when a dog is bitten by a venomous snake:

    • Trembling
    • Vomiting
    • Salivation, drooling, frothing
    • Diarrhea
    • Weakness in the back legs, unsteadiness
    • Dilated pupils
    • Respiratory distress
    • Bloody urine
    • Continuous bleeding from the bite wound
    • A flaccid paralysis leading to coma or respiratory failure
    • Death can occur within 30 minutes to two hours, depending on the type of snake venom and the amount of venom injected.
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    Be aware of the specific symptoms of snakes in your area. This can be very helpful if the venom from a snake in your area has unique symptoms. For example, a bite from a Coral snake may be painless, and it can take up to 18 hours before symptoms develop. This means it’s all too easy to be lulled into a false sense of security and assume the dog is OK. Instead, the opposite is true and you should use the time to seek veterinary treatment.[5]


Identifying the Snake

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    Protect yourself. If you see the snake, do NOT approach the snake. It is not recommended under most circumstances that you try to kill the snake yourself; you could end up a casualty or waste the precious time you need to save your dog.
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    Make a note of the appearance of the snake. Pay attention to it’s head shape, approximate length, color, and pattern. In the US the commonest cause of venomous snake bite is the rattlesnake but other significant snakes include the coral snake, Cottonmouths (Water Moccasins) Banded rock snake, Black-tailed snake, Canebrake, Diamondback snake, Massasauga, Mojave, Mottled rock snake, Pacific snake, Pygmy, Prairie snake, Red diamond and Ridge-nosed snakes.[6]

    • Also be aware that as a general rule of thumb venomous snakes have slit shaped pupils (like a cat) and non-venomous snakes have round pupils (like a dog). Of course, do not get close enough to look if you aren’t certain!
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    Take a picture of the snake if you can. If you can do so safely, take a photo with your phone or with any camera you have handy. If the snake is aggressive and moving towards you, skip the photo and retreat.

    • Likewise, do not prevent the snake from escaping in order to take a picture. You could end up being bitten.
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    Don’t feel bad or panic if you didn’t get a good look at the snake. If your vet can identify the bite area, your vet can swab the bite site using a snake detection kit to identify the snake venom. However, if you can give any details about the snake or your dog’s reaction to the bite, it will help.


Getting Medical Treatment For a Snakebite

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    Don’t panic. You need to keep a calm head and focus on your dog’s health. Getting your dog help should be your primary concern, so focus on it and don’t lose your composure.
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    Seek immediate veterinary attention. Call your veterinary clinic ahead of time and tell them you are bringing in a dog with a snakebite. This will allow the vet to prioritize treating your dog once you arrive. It may also help them to make logistics arrangements to make the admissions process smoother, such as getting you a parking spot close to the clinic and retrieving your dog’s health records.

    • Be aware that a dog showing signs of toxicity is not a problem that you can care for at home or will not stand a good chance of survival with first aid alone. The dog is likely to require anti-venom, intravenous fluids to support failing organs, and pain relief. All of these require the intervention of a veterinary professional.
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    Treat your dog with first aid. The farther away you are from the vet and the greater the amount of venom from the bite, the worse your dog’s chances of survival. However, some basic first aid will increase your dog’s chances of survival, especially during the car trip to the vet’s:

    • Apply a pressure bandage to a limb bite but do not apply a tourniquet or bandage the wound too tightly. This will restrict blood flow too much.
    • Do not wash the bite area or cut the wound. Do not try to suck or squeeze out the venom.
    • The dog is likely to be in pain and restless. However, moving around increases blood circulation and spreads the toxin more rapidly. Try to keep your dog calm (and its heart rate down) by acting calm yourself and speaking to it in a reassuring manner. Do not encourage the dog to walk, instead carry him to your car.[7]
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    Avoid unreliable treatments. There are many myths when it comes to treating snakebites, and taking these actions can make matters worse rather than better. Avoid trying to suck venom out, cutting the animal to make it bleed, applying a tourniquet to localize the venom, and ice-packs over the site of the bite. These are all to be avoided.
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    Know what to expect at the vet’s. You may feel better if you know how the vet will probably treat your dog. Although treatment depends on the type of venom and the treatment facilities available, Your vet will likely:

    • Determine the stage of envenomation
    • Examine the site of the wound
    • Administer a snake detection test (blood or urine sample) and analyze the results
    • Give your dog intravenous fluids and appropriate anti-venom
      • Anti-venom is administered by slow intravenous injection. In a small number of cases the dog can be allergic to the anti-venom, in which case the outlook is poor. Many vets will administer an antihistamine at around the time the antivenom is given, in order to reduce the risk of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), which could send the dog into shock.
      • Intravenous fluids may be given to support the organs, especially the kidneys. Once the dog has recovered the vet may suggest monitoring its renal function with blood tests to check there was no lasting damage.[8]
    • Give your dog antihistamines, allergy reduction reduction drugs, painkillers, or sedatives if they are necessary
      • Broad spectrum antibiotics are generally given to protect against secondary infections as a result of tissue damage.[9]
    • In some cases the venom causes blood clotting disorders, which can lead to hemorrhage. The vet may assess the dog and decide that a blood transfusion is necessary or the administration of replacement clotting factors in order to prevent internal bleeding.[10]
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    Care for your dog while it recovers. The consequences of a bite can be extremely painful, and while the anti-venom can reduce the spread of the toxins, they do not deal with the pain. Expect recovery in 24 – 48 hours, but expect that your dog will take more time to get back to his old self. Set aside time to nurse your dog back to full health and ask the vet for advice.

    • The vet will likely use strong painkillers, such as those from the morphine family, to control the pain while the animal recovers.[11]
    • If the dog has nerve damage and difficulty breathing, it may need intensive care facilities, where it can be put in an oxygen tent or onto a respirator until it recovers.
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    Be prepared for long-term effects from the snake bite. Some dogs suffer long term complications, such as damage to their kidneys. This will only reveal itself over time, and the vet will monitor your dog’s renal function by taking regular blood tests.

    • Others recover from the toxin but suffer extensive areas of skin loss and sloughing because of damage done by swelling and the toxins. These will be managed by your veterinarian with antibiotics, pain relief, and dressing, with a view to a skin graft if necessary.[12]


How to Treat a Panting Dog

Dogs and panting go hand in hand. You may notice your dog panting with his tongue lolling out the side of his mouth. Since dogs don’t sweat like humans do, panting is how a dog cools himself down. In healthy dogs, panting is a normal part of running or playing hard, especially if he is excited, anxious, or somewhere warm.[1] In unusual cases (often caused by medical conditions), your dog’s panting may be heavy or labored. Either way, learn how to relieve your dog’s panting.


Easing Normal Panting

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    Give your dog water. If you’re sure your dog is healthy, he may be panting because he’s thirsty and overheated. Offer your dog cool, not ice cold, water. If the water is too cold, your dog may find it uncomfortable and stop drinking.

    • If you’re exercising with your dog, periodically give him water breaks.[2]
    • To prevent your dog from gulping too much water, try to give him water from a water bottle. Drinking slowly can prevent stomach cramps.[3]
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    Put your dog in a quiet, cool environment. If your dog is overheating, you should put him in a cool place that has air conditioning or a room that has a fan running. If you have the option, let your dog go for a dip in the pool or lake. Once your dog seems to have cooled off and isn’t panting as much, offer him water again.[4]

    • Consider dipping a towel in water, wringing it out, and draping it over your dog. This will cool him off, especially after exercising in a warm environment.[5]
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    Calm your dog. If your dog is overexcited or anxious, take charge and calm him down. If you’re worried or panicked, your dog will feed off your emotions so don’t appear nervous. Instead, comfort your dog by talking to him in a soothing voice while petting him.[6]

    • You may be able to distract your dog from what’s worrying him. Try giving him a small treat or his favorite toy to play with.


Managing Causes of Heavy Panting

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    Check for signs of severe dehydration. If your dog has been in a hot environment and is panting heavily, he may be overheated. Check to see if his gums are beet red or pale. If so, get your dog to a cool place with a fan on him and offer cool water.[7]

    • If your dog doesn’t stop panting or acts weak, take him to the veterinarian.
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    Consider your dog’s overall health. Your dog may pant heavily to flush his body of toxic substances if he has chronic health problems, like heart or lung disease. If your dog is obese, he’s more likely to pant heavily because of heat exhaustion. This is because the extra fat and energy required to carry the weight makes your dog work harder.

    • If you have an older dog who suddenly pants more when he does average physical activities or when he’s laying down, make an appointment to have him examined.[8]
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    Treat your dog for heat exhaustion or fever. Your dog may pant heavily if his body temperature rises externally (in hot weather) or internally (by fever due to illness or infection). In these cases, he’ll pant to rid his body of this heat. If your dog has heat exhaustion or a fever over 102.5 degrees, immediately call the veterinarian. Your veterinarian should tell you what steps you’ll need to take before bringing your dog in for medical treatment.[9]

    • To take your dog’s temperature use a rectal thermometer, or an ear thermometer if your dog will tolerate it. Never take an oral (mouth) temperature since it won’t be accurate.
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    Know when to get medical attention. Take your dog to the veterinarian if you notice heavy panting and:[10]

    • Pain from arthritis
    • Pain from abdominal problems like bloat or pancreatitis
    • Pain from an injury
    • Fever over 102.5 degrees
    • Panting that lasts more than 10 minutes
    • A bluish purple or very pale mouth or tongue
      • See the vet immediately if your dog has bloat, pancreatitis, colored or pale mouth or tongue, and heavy breathing.
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    Consider less common causes of heavy panting. Occasionally, some medical conditions or medications may cause your dog to pant heavily. Consult with your veterinarian if you suspect one of the following is causing the heavy panting:

    • Cushing’s disease: This hormonal disease causes your dog to produce too much cortisol.[11] Panting is one of the minor signs of this disease, while a pot belly and increased eating, drinking, and urination are more common symptoms.
    • Medication: Some medications such as steroids (like prednisone) can cause your dog to pant.[12]
    • Pregnancy and related conditions: If your dog is pregnant, the added weight can cause her to pant heavily, especially by the end of pregnancy. Milk fever (eclampsia) in nursing mothers can also lead cause heavy panting. Calcium levels in the blood stream plummet when the milk demand for calcium becomes too high.[13]


How to Tell if a Small Dog Is Okay After a Fall

Although dog owners can try their best to keep their pet safe from harm, accidents can happen. One cause of accidental injury for dogs is falling. Although dogs may seem agile, they can be hurt just as bad as any other animal from a fall. Dogs can get excited and jump from an upstairs window or out of a car window while driving. Knowing what to look for and what to tell your veterinarian can make a big difference in getting your dog the care that it needs after a fall.


Assessing Your Dog After The Fall

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    Keep calm. Although witnessing your dog suffer a fall can be a frightening experience, you need to remain calm. By staying as relaxed as possible you will be able to best assess your dog’s condition as well as help your dog to remain calm. This can prevent further injury or stress.[1]

    • If your dog sees you panicking it will likely also panic, increasing its pain and stress levels.
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    Look for injuries. After your dog has fallen, calmly look for any signs of injury that you can see. Don’t touch your dog as you look, use only your eyes. By evaluating the extent of damage your dog has sustained during the fall, you will be able to best judge what to do next. Look for some of the following signs of injury in your dog:[2][3]

    • Yelping is a clear sign that your dog is in pain.
    • Check your dog for any surface injuries such as cuts, scrapes, or protruding bones.
    • Look at the dog’s front and back legs. If a limb is broken, it will appear disfigured, being bent or held at an odd angle.
    • Some broken bones might not be visible. If your dog is limping for more than five minutes, take it to your veterinarian.
    • Injured dogs will breathe faster than normal. Look for a sustained increase in the rate of breathing in your dog.
    • Not all injuries will be external or visible. Only a veterinarian will be able to verify internal injuries.
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    Apply first aid. If you have noticed any obvious injuries to your dog you can apply first aid. Applying basic first aid to your dog can help prevent the injury from worsening during the time it takes to get it to the veterinarian. Only apply first aid if your dog seems comfortable with you doing so. Stress and pain might make your dog growl or even bite you, so work slowly and monitor your dog’s reactions.[4]

    • If your dog is not able to move, do not pick it up until it has a stable and solid surface underneath it such as a board.
    • Never treat any serious wounds yourself. Leave severe injuries for your veterinarian to treat.
    • Clean any superficial cuts or wounds by applying hydrogen peroxide to the affected area.
    • Apply pressure using a clean piece of gauze to any areas that are heavily bleeding.
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    Call and visit your veterinarian. Having assessed what injuries your dog may have and after applying first aid, it’s time to call your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will be able to best identify and treat any injuries your dog may have after its fall.[5]

    • If your dog has severe injuries, take it to an emergency veterinarian immediately.
    • Take your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible, even if injuries are not immediately life threatening.
    • Even if your dog doesn’t have apparent or obvious injuries, your veterinarian can detect issues that may be internal or unclear.


Taking Your Dog To The Vet

  1. 1

    Inform your veterinarian about the fall. When you meet with your veterinarian you will need to provide accurate information about your dog’s injuries. By giving your veterinarian this information, they will be able to start treating your dog more quickly and efficiently.

    • Tell your veterinarian exactly how and when your dog fell.
    • Inform your veterinarian about any signs of injury that you have noticed.
    • Let your veterinarian know about any first aid you have administered.
    • Tell your veterinarian about any past injuries or surgeries that your dog may have had.
    • Be ready to provide basic information about your dog including age, current medications, or other health issues.
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    Be aware of some tests and procedures your veterinarian may perform. Your veterinarian will likely perform some diagnostic tests and will administer certain medical techniques to treat your dog’s injuries. Review some of the following possible tests and treatments that your veterinarian may perform.[6][7]

    • A basic physical exam will let your veterinarian learn of any surface injuries as well as the overall condition of your dog.
    • Orthopedic examinations will check for any injuries to the bones, joints, muscles, or affected range of movement in your dog. This examination may include an x-ray.
    • Neurological examinations will be ordered if your dog has hit its head during the fall. If your dog is walking oddly or seemingly unaware, this test can help determine if your dog’s nervous system was damaged.
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    Follow any instructions given by your veterinarian. After your dog has received initial emergency treatment and has been cleared to go home with you, your veterinarian will likely give you home-care instructions. These instructions must be accurately followed to ensure that your dog will have a quick and full recovery.[8][9]

    • If your dog is given medications, keep up with the schedule. Make sure your dog is consuming them completely if administered orally.
    • Keep up with changing any bandages that your dog may need.
    • You may need to apply ice or heat packs to your dog’s injuries.
    • Make sure your dog rests and keep activities to a minimum while injuries heal.

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Part 2 Quiz

What might indicate that your dog has damaged its nervous system?


Preventing Your Dog From Falling

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    Keep car windows up. If your dog enjoys going for car rides with you, take this simple step to help keep it safe. Although most humans wouldn’t dare jump out of a moving car, your dog might not be so hesitant. Keep the windows rolled up enough to prevent your dog from jumping out during your drive.[10]

    • You might also wish to purchase a seatbelt designed specifically for your dog, to keep it as safe as can be during any road trips.
    • Consider locking power windows as dogs may accidentally be able to roll them down.
    • Do not leave your dog alone in the car on a hot day with the windows rolled up. This can raise temperatures to a deadly degree for your dog.[11]
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    Always leave house windows closed. A common fall hazard for dogs is any open window in your house that it can reach. Even if the window has a screen on it, your dog may still try and escape, which can lead to it suffering a dangerous fall. Any window your dog can reach needs to be kept closed enough so that your dog cannot fit out the window.[12]
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    Keep your dog away from fall hazards in the home. If your home has potential fall hazards you should prevent your dog from accessing this areas. Keeping your dog away from these potentially dangerous ares will help keep it safe in your home.

    • Steep stair cases, lofts without a railing, and balconies are some examples of places in your home that your dog may fall from.
    • Make sure to leave doors to these areas closed.
    • You can buy pet-gates to block off staircases or doorways in your home.
    • Never bring your dog into an area of the house that presents a fall hazard.
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    Take your dog to your veterinarian if it falls without reason. If you notice your dog stumbling and falling without any apparent reason, it should be taken to your veterinarian as soon as possible. This may be a sign of a medical condition that your veterinarian will be able to diagnose and offer treatment options for.[13]

    • Inner ear issues or ear infections can cause your dog fall down.
    • Brain tumors, which are more common in older dogs, can also be responsible for your dog falling.


How to Tell if Your Dog Is Having a Medical Emergency

If your dog is acting strange or showing signs of sickness, it is never wrong to call your veterinarian. Sick or injured dogs can show a wide range of symptoms, and it can be hard to tell whether a situation is serious is or not. That said, certain symptoms, such as a swollen stomach or fainting, should always receive medical care. Call your vet for advice. If they recommend that you bring your dog in for treatment, transport the dog safely and comfortably.


Identifying Severe Medical Emergencies

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    Watch out for fainting, fits, or seizures. If your dog suddenly collapses, faints, or convulses, there is likely something wrong. Any loss of consciousness is a sign of a serious medical condition. Call your vet immediately.[1]

    • If your dog is experiencing a seizure, do not touch or move the dog. Move any objects that might fall on or hurt the dog, but do not put your hands or body near its mouth. The dog may bite or injure you.
    • If the dog has fainted, drape a blanket over the dog. When you take the dog to the vet, carry it out. Do not drag the dog.
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    Get immediate medical attention if you notice a swollen or distended belly. A swollen or distended stomach can be a sign of many serious gastric problems. Take your dog to the vet as soon as possible for treatment, especially if the dog is also vomiting.[2]

    • A swollen stomach can be a sign of bloat, also known as gastric dilatation. Your dog may also try to vomit repeatedly, sometimes without luck. This is a serious problem that requires emergency attention.
    • Internal bleeding can also cause the abdomen to swell. This can cause your dog to go into shock, which may be fatal if untreated.
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    Watch for an inability to pass urine despite straining. Signs of straining include repeated lifting of the back leg or squatting. When the dog moves away, the ground is dry. The dog may also lick its genitals excessively, as if attempting to relieve discomfort.[3]

    • Not being able to pass urine is a genuine emergency which requires immediate veterinary attention. Failing to do so could result in the bladder bursting, kidney failure, or even a heart attack.
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    Look for changes in mental status or behavior. Your dog may respond in a bizarre or unusual manner. It might walk into things, press its head against the wall, or not recognize you. Altered mental status can indicate a metabolic or neurological disease. Take your dog to the vet as soon as possible.[4]

    • Altered mental status can be difficult to assess, because you need to be able to recognize what is normal for your pet. Changes in normal behavior are usually signs of a medical condition.
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    Seek veterinary help if your dog is unable to walk. Check to see if the dog is unable to stand, collapses while walking, or walks while dragging its back legs. Whether your dog is old or young, the inability to walk is a sign your dog needs medical care.[5]

    • Age, arthritis, pain, and circulatory problems are some of the reasons why your dog may be struggling to walk.


Looking for Symptoms of Sickness

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    Observe any coughing or wheezing. If you hear constant coughing, wheezing, or noisy breathing for several hours, make an appointment with your vet. If the dog starts coughing up pink foam or froth, take it to the vet immediately.[6]

    • Coughing and wheezing can be signs of numerous illnesses. They may indicate a respiratory infection or show that your dog is struggling to breathe.
    • If it appears your dog is coughing something up, gently place your fingers in its mouth to see if you can identify what is causing the choking. If you can’t find it, call your vet for advice.[7]
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    Watch for difficulty breathing. Listen for heavy, long, or loud, labored breathing. The dog may expand its belly to try to fill its chest with air or stretch its neck out as it breathes. These can be signs that your dog is struggling to breathe.[8]
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    Inspect the color of the dog’s gums. Look into your dog’s mouth to check the color of its gums. A healthy dog with well-oxygenated blood usually has bright pink gums. Pale gums may be a sign of sickness. Blue gums are much more serious, as they are a sign that your dog is struggling to breathe.[9]
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    Monitor your dog if it has been vomiting or experiencing diarrhea. If the dog vomits only 2 or 3 times, wait 24 hours to see if the dog gets better. If there are other symptoms and the dog keeps vomiting for 2-3 hours, call the vet. If there is blood in the vomit or diarrhea, get the dog immediate medical attention.[10]

    • Blood in vomit or diarrhea can be a sign of internal bleeding, parasites, or an internal obstruction.
    • If your dog has diarrhea or vomiting, give it plenty of fresh water to prevent dehydration.
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    Identify any foul-smelling discharge from your dog. Discharge from the dog’s eyes, mouth, nose, or genitals can indicate various illnesses, such as pyometra or a cold. If there is a strange or foul odor to the discharge, take your dog to the vet.[11]

    • The discharge may be clear, white, yellow, or green in color.
    • If you see clear, odorless discharge from your dog, it may not be a medical emergency, but you may still want to have your vet check it out.
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    Check for an increased respiratory rate. Count how many times your dog takes a breath in a minute. This is its respiratory rate. A normal respiratory rate is 10-34 breaths per minute. If the dog is resting and its respiratory rate is 60 BPM, it may need medical attention.[12]

    • Check its respiratory rate after it has been resting for at least 15-20 minutes. It is normal for your dog to have a higher respiratory rate after exercise or when it is excited. Dogs may also pant if they are happy, stressed, or hot.
    • If the dog’s respiratory rate is between 34 and 60, keep an eye on it. Check it again after 15-20 minutes to see if it has gone down. If it is still raised, call your vet for advice.
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    Check your dog’s pulse. For this method, you must know what your dog’s average heart rate is, since this can vary greatly between dogs. Place your hand over the dog’s heart or near the top of its hind legs to feel its pulse. Count how many beats there are in a minute. If it is higher or lower than normal, call your vet for advice.[13]

    • To learn your dog’s baseline rate, take its pulse a few times while it is healthy. Larger dogs may have a heart rate of 60-100 beats per minute while smaller dogs may have a heart rate between 100-140 beats per minute.
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    Watch out for weakness or lethargy. Compare your dog’s activity to its normal self. If it is suddenly sleeping or resting more than usual, this can be a sign of an illness or condition. It may also seem depressed, act quieter than usual, or avoid exercise.[14]

    • Lethargy alone may not be a sign of a medical emergency, but it can indicate something is wrong.
    • There are many reasons why lethargy and weakness may develop, from heart disease to running a fever.
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    Watch for any unusual restless behavior. If your dog suddenly starts pacing, circling, or moving around frequently, it may be feeling restless. Restlessness alone is not a serious condition. If joined with other symptoms, however, like vomiting or heavy drooling, it may be a sign of a serious condition.[15]

    • If your dog is restless while breastfeeding, it may have hypocalcemia (also known as milk fever), a serious condition that needs immediate medical attention.
    • If the dog is restless and vomiting, check the stomach for any swelling. If the dog has a swollen belly, see a vet immediately. The dog may have bloat.


Checking Injuries and Other Trauma

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    Seek immediate veterinary attention if your dog has eaten any toxins. If your dog has ingested poisonous chemicals, paint, poisonous plants, or other toxic substances, take it to the vet immediately. The effects of the toxin will depend on exactly what type of poison it is, how much was eaten, and the dog’s size.[16]

    • Even if you just suspect that your dog has eaten something bad, get it to the vet just in case. Do not induce vomiting, unless your vet specifically tells you to.
    • There are many plants that are dangerous for dogs. These include azaleas, lillies, and tulips. If you find your dog chewing or eating these plants, take it to the vet, even if it is not displaying signs of sickness.[17]
    • Signs of poisoning in dogs include vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, nosebleeds, and lack of energy.
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    Inspect the dog’s fur for signs of a burn or scald. If the dog has come into contact with a hot or burning object, its fur may cover up the burn. If you’re worried about a burn, brush back the dog’s fur gently. Look for signs of redness, peeling, bleeding, or swelling.[18]
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    Take the dog to the vet after falls, fights, and traffic accidents. Even if your dog appears fine at first, a vet can check for broken bones, bruising, and internal injuries. Handle broken bones carefully until you can get the dog to the vet.[19]

    • Even if the dog is able to walk, it is best to treat this as an emergency because pain can push a dog into shock, which can be life-threatening. Signs of shock include pale gums, cold paws and limbs, a weak pulse, and lethargy. These are signs that your dog needs immediate medical treatment.
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    See the vet if you notice heavy bleeding. Observe any injuries carefully for bleeding. Heavy bleeding may spurt, constantly drip, or soak through a bandage in a matter of minutes. If you can, wrap the dog’s wound in a gauze bandage and elevate the wound until you can reach the vet.[20]

    • Apply pressure to the wound for several minutes. Non-life-threatening bleeding stops when pressure is applied over the injury, and the bleeding does not resume when the pressure is removed.
    • Any bleeding that resumes once pressure is removed should be treated as an emergency.


Acting in an Emergency

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    Call your vet first to see if you can bring your dog in. Explain your dog’s symptoms and injuries to the vet. Ask them what you should do. The vet may give you advice over the phone or tell you when you can come in to see them.[21]

    • If it is outside of your vet’s normal hours, check their website to see if they have an emergency line. Call this number instead.
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    Take your dog to an emergency vet if your normal vet is unavailable. If you can’t reach your vet or if your vet can’t see your dog right away, find an emergency vet or animal hospital near you. These are open 24-hours a day and usually do not require an appointment.[22]

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    Speak to the dog in a soothing voice. During a medical emergency, your dog may be panicked, distressed, or upset. Even the friendliest of dogs may react aggressively towards its beloved owners while sick. Speak to your dog in a soft soothing voice. If the dog will let you touch it, stroke its head and shoulders.[23]

    • If the dog snaps, growls, or tries to bite you, try not to touch it as much as possible. Coax it into the dog carrier or car using a treat, toy, or leash.
    • If needed, you can make a muzzle out of a belt, gauze, or pantyhose. Wrap it around its jaw, keeping its nose free to breathe.
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    Carry an injured or immobile dog while transporting it to the vet. Place small dogs in a pet carrier if you have one. Medium and large dogs may need 2 people to carry them through the door. Never drag an injured dog.[24]

    • Drape a blanket over the dog to keep it warm while you take it to the vet. If the dog is going into shock, its body temperature may drop.
    • Once at the vet, hand the dog over to the veterinarian. They will treat your dog as soon as possible. You may wait in the lobby while the dog is being treated.
    • If you don’t have someone there to help carry a larger dog, try to pick the dog up from around the chest. If you can’t lift the dog, ask a friend to come over or see if the vet will make a house call.


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