Category: Helping Dogs

How to Take Care of an Injured Dog

Just like a person, a dog can be hurt in ways that are both obvious and harder to detect. Unlike a person though, a dog can’t tell you when it hurts or what you should do to help. To know how to care for an injured dog, you must be able to determine what type of injury the dog has. It’s also important to know both how to give immediate care for a recent injury and how to treat a long-term condition.


Assessing the Injury

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    Learn the signs of injury. Sometimes, when a dog has been injured, you’ll be able to see it right away. Other times, the injury will be harder to detect. Make sure to take note of the following signs of injury:[1]

    • Limping or other changes in walking or movement
    • Swelling
    • Avoidance of touch in certain areas, or barking or whining when touched in a certain spot
    • Unexplained and unusual warmth in a certain area
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    Protect yourself. Even a dog which is normally kind and docile is more likely to behave in a hostile way if injured. If you suspect a dog is injured, always take care not to be bitten or otherwise injured.[2]

    • To the extent that you are able, avoid the dog’s face and mouth.
    • While your first impulse may be to comfort the animal, do not hug or squeeze it.
    • Approach the dog slowly and calmly, to avoid frightening it any more than it may be already.
    • Covering the dog’s head gently with a towel or other piece of fabric can sometimes lessen its anxiety during examination.[3]
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    Muzzle the dog if necessary. If an injured dog attempts to bite you or shows signs of hostility, you may need to cover its mouth to avoid bites.[4]

    • If you already have a muzzle for your dog, carefully put it on him or her.
    • If not, you can wrap the dog’s mouth using a towel, stockings, a roll of gauze, or any similar strip of fabric. Wrap it over the dog’s snout and under its chin, being careful not to cover its nose or obstruct its breathing.
    • Never muzzle a dog that is vomiting. This can cause it to choke. Never muzzle a dog with chest injuries or a short-snouted dog such as a pug or bulldog.[5]
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    Examine the dog slowly and carefully. Look the dog over to determine where and how it is injured, being as careful as you can not to startle or further hurt it.[6]

    • Speak gently and calmly to the dog as you examine to help it stay calm.[7]
    • Stop the examination if the dog becomes obviously agitated.
    • If the dog has a cut or similar wound, you may need to clip away some of the dog’s fur to get a clear look at how bad it is. Spreading a little petroleum jelly over the wound can prevent hair clippings from getting stuck in it. [8]
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    Call a vet immediately if emergency care is needed. Some injuries are minor and can, if necessary, wait to be treated by your regular vet. Life threatening injuries, however, require immediate care, and if your vet isn’t available, you’ll need to contact an emergency veterinary clinic. Get emergency care for the following:[9]

    • Profuse or unstoppable bleeding
    • Loss of consciousness
    • Inability to stand
    • Difficulty breathing or rapid breathing
    • Paralysis
    • Note that if the injured dog is not yours, and you bring it to a vet, you may be responsible for any costs related to its care.[10]


Giving First Aid

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    Perform CPR if needed. If a dog is not breathing, you may need to perform CPR. Close the dog’s mouth and place your lips over its nose. Give three to four strong breaths.[11]

    • If the dog does not start breathing on its own, continue to give it 10 to 12 breaths per minute.
    • If you can’t detect a heart beat, lay the dog on its side and compress its chest with your hands. Give five compressions per breath.
    • Once a dog starts breathing on its own, stop CPR.
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    Move the dog carefully. There is a good chance you will need to move the injured dog, whether you are bringing it home, taking it to a vet, or just trying to get it out of a busy street. An injured dog must be moved gently and with great care.

    • If you are able to, splint, bandage or otherwise stabilize wounded areas before moving the dog to reduce the risk of further harm.[12]
    • Confine the dog while moving it so it can’t hurt itself more. If possible, use a pet carrier, but if you don’t have one, punch some holes in a box.
    • Larger dogs can be moved using a makeshift stretcher. You can use a board, a door, a rug, or a large blanket, carried by at least two people.
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    Stop any bleeding. If the dog is bleeding from its injury, press down firmly on the injured area with your fingers and palm and apply a firm but not tight bandage. Gauze or a washcloth or towel will often do the trick.[13]

    • If the bandage becomes soaked through with blood, don’t remove it. Place additional materials on top.
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    Apply a tourniquet if necessary. If a dog has an injury on it’s leg or tail that will not stop bleeding, and is gushing blood in a rhythmic way, it may have a damaged artery. You may need to apply a tourniquet to save its life.[14]

    • Wrap the limb in a bandana or other strip of cloth, between the wound and the heart, tightly enough that no blood can pass through.
    • Every 15 minutes, loosen the tourniquet so blood can pass through for about 10 seconds. If you don’t, the dog may lose the limb.
    • Always seek immediate emergency care for a wound of this nature..
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    Clean and treat lacerations. If the dog has any lacerations that aren’t bleeding, clean them with an antiseptic solution, such as hydrogen peroxide, and dry them. [15]

    • If you don’t have an antiseptic solution, warm water with a little salt will do.
    • Pat the area dry with some sterile gauze. You can apply some ointment if its not an area the dog can lick.
    • Keep an eye on the injury in case of infection and make sure to keep it clean for several days.
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    Use a cold compress. For bruising or tenderness, you can give your dog some immediate relief using a cold compress. Gently place something frozen, such as a bag of frozen peas, on the injured area.[16]

    • Cool the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes, then remove the compress. You can reapply as often as every two hours if it seems to be helping.
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    Seek veterinary care. Even for what seems like a minor injury, it is a good idea to seek professional care. You may not be able to detect some injuries, such as those that are internal.[17]

    • For non-emergencies, call your vet and explain the situation. The vet’s office will either make an appointment for you soon or refer you to emergency care if they deem it necessary.
    • For serious bleeding or other major injuries, search online for an emergency vet clinic near you and take your dog immediately.


Treating Long-Term Injuries

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    Give the dog medications. Some injuries last a long time, sometimes even for the rest of the dog’s life. Treating these injuries requires patience and consistency. To begin with, give your dog any medicine your vet prescribes, following all instructions precisely.[18]

    • There are variety of medications available for treating the pain that may result from an injury, from anti-inflammatory medications to opioids and more.[19] Talk to your vet about the benefits and possible side effects of any medications he or she recommends.
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    Make dietary changes. Changing what your dog eats can also be helpful in treating injuries. For injuries that have resulted from weakened tissue, a high-quality, meat-based diet is best.[20]

    • There are also a number of supplements, foods, and dog treats formulated especially for helping dogs with joint injuries.[21]
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    Use splints and braces as appropriate. If your dog has sustained an injury that makes it difficult to walk or stand, it may benefit from a splint, brace, or cart. There are number of such products available for both short and long-term use.[22]

    • Your vet will be able to help you select the most appropriate option for your dog.
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    Try gentle massage. Some dogs will benefit from a gentle massage of the injured area, once it is no longer too sensitive. Lightly rub affected areas.[23]

    • If the dog exhibits any sign of discomfort, discontinue this immediately. This should be a pleasant experience for your dog, not a painful one.
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    Keep exercise moderate. An injured dog should not overly exert itself, as this may result in further injury/re-injury of the damaged area. Make sure the dog doesn’t, for example, walk or run for too long on an injured leg.

    • Total lack of exercise isn’t a good idea either. This can result in a dog becoming overweight, which can produce its own problems, especially for dogs that have joint injuries.[24]
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      Try herbal remedies. There are a number of herbal remedies that some people have found helpful in soothing the pain of an injured dog. Although these are not medically proven, you may wish to try the following:[25]

      • Boswellia, bupleurum, cayenne, ginger, turmeric, and yucca have all been used to relieve joint pain in both people and animals. They can be applied in compresses.
      • Hot compresses with these herbs, applied for 10 to15 minute intervals every two to four hours may help relieve your dog’s pain.
      • A cool compress with peppermint can have an immediate soothing effect.


How to Tell if a Dog Is in Pain

Dogs feel pain every bit as much as people do, but most dogs have evolved to hide signs of pain because it could make them vulnerable to attack by rival dogs. Some dogs will plainly communicate that they are in pain, others can be very stoic and make that determination difficult.[1] Many times dogs will hide their pain, if possible, as a natural survival mechanism. Even so, there are many ways of determining if your dog is in pain. The sooner you can make this determination, the sooner you can seek help. This can help to keep minor problems from turning into major ones.


Looking for Bodily Changes

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    Watch for limping. One of the most obvious signs of pain is limping. Limping occurs when it hurts to put weight on a leg.[2]

    • If a leg is causing pain, they are less likely to use it, and sometimes may rely on the other three legs.
    • Dogs in pain will also typically move around less.[3]
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    Keep an eye out for other mobility issues. Aside from limping, you may see other mobility changes. For example your dog may have trouble getting up or down. It might also move around more slowly than usual, or show a reluctance to do certain activities.[4]

    • Hesitance to go up or down stairs, run, or jump can be a sign of pain.
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    Observe changes in posture. Note the position that your dog holds its head or tail. Any change from normal posture, such as a hanging or tucked tail in a dog that normally has an active tail, can be evidence of pain.[5]

    • If your dog is holding a leg differently than it normally does, it could be a sign that it is in pain.
    • Pain may also cause your dog to stand with its back arched or to be very stiff when standing or moving.
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    Take note of your dog’s breathing. If your dog is in pain, you may see an increase in their respiratory rate or heavy panting.[6]

    • A dog that pants persistently, especially in cool weather, may be in pain.
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    Check your dog’s eyes. Your dog’s eyes can tell you a lot about any pain it might be experiencing. If there is pain in the eye area, you may see squinting, redness, cloudiness, or a discharge.[7]

    • Your dog also may be rubbing at the area that hurts. If your dog rubs around its eyes frequently, this could be a sign of discomfort in this area.
    • The eyes can also give you a clue about pain in other areas. Squinting can be a sign of pain in the eye area, but some dogs will also squint when they are experiencing pain elsewhere.
    • Dilated pupils can also be a sign that your dog is in pain.[8]


Looking for Behavioral changes

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    Beware of biting. Pain can change a dog’s behavior. Even a friendly dog in great pain will be more likely to bite.[9]

    • Even a dog that has never bitten before may bite when approached if it is experiencing significant pain.
    • A dog in pain may also bite if you touch or move a painful area.[10] The natural response, when a painful area is touched, is to turn toward that area. The dog may try to bite out of instinct.
    • You may first see warning signs such as growling. A dog on the verge of biting may pin its ears back or show its teeth. This is a natural protection mechanism that a dog may use to try to prevent further pain.[11]
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    Monitor your dog’s eating. A dog in pain may decrease its food consumption. If your dog suddenly has a decreased appetite, this may be a sign of pain.[12]

    • A dog with mouth pain may also drop food when it eats.[13]
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    Watch for signs of restlessness. A dog in pain may experience restlessness or an inability to get comfortable. Your dog may show this by pacing, repeatedly readjusting its position, or getting up and down frequently.[14]
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    Notice sleep changes. A dog in pain may experience changes in its normal sleep schedule. A dog in pain may either sleep more than usual,[15] or have difficulty sleeping.[16]
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    Listen for changes in the dog’s vocalization. Unusual vocalizations including moaning, groaning, whimpering, yipping, and even growling can all be signs of pain.[17]

    • These sounds may be associated with particular movements, such as when first getting up. That can help to give you a clue about the nature of the pain.[18]
    • A dog that is normally vocal may also suddenly become quiet.[19]
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    Look for avoidance behaviors. Avoidance behaviors, such as hiding or shying away from contact with people or other animals are common when a dog is in pain.[20]These behaviors are efforts to avoid potentially painful situations.

    • If your dog moves its head away when you try to pet it or makes other moves to avoid touch, this can be a sign it is in pain. Take note of such behaviors if your dog normally likes being touched.
    • These behaviors can go along with a dog being more withdrawn and less interactive than normal.
    • You may also notice an attitude of depression or mental dullness if your dog is experiencing pain.[21]
    • Note that some dogs may seek more attention, rather than avoiding it, if they are in pain.[22] You should take note of either avoidance or unusually high levels of attention-seeking behaviors.
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    Pay attention to your dog’s potty habits. Being aware of your dog’s normal bathroom habits can help you recognize many different problems.

    • When a dog is in pain you may notice that it exhibits a different posture when it urinates or defecates. For example, a male dog that normally lifts his leg to urinate might not.
    • You may also see a change in how often your dog needs to do its business. Or, your dog may have accidents if it is painful for them to get to the area where they usually go.
    • Pain can also change the consistency of a dog’s stool, due to the related stress. It can also lead to constipation.[23]


How to Take Care of an Injured Stray Puppy

So you’ve found a stray puppy and you notice that it’s injured. You wonder what you should do next. Caring for an injured dog is a delicate process, but seeing the puppy return to good health is always worth it. Take care of an injured puppy by assessing its injuries, taking it to a vet for medical care, and then providing it with care at your home while you look for its owner.


Assessing the Puppy’s Injuries

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    Stay at a safe distance at first.[1] Before you approach a stray puppy, make sure the animal does not pose a threat to you.[2] It is best to keep a safe distance from the animal while you try to figure out how serious its injuries are and what kind of help it needs.

    • If you get too close to the puppy, it might bite you, especially if it is frightened or in a lot of pain.[3]
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    Use caution when approaching the injured puppy. If the puppy does not seem aggressive or dangerous, speak calmly and move slowly as you get close to the puppy.[4] Sudden movements might spook the animal.

    • If you have some kind of food or dog treats available to you, try to show the pup that you mean no harm to it by offering up the treats or food as a gift.[5]
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    Consider muzzling the puppy if it seems aggressive or scared. While this might not be necessary, some puppies will snap or bite if they feel scared or threatened. You can gently and carefully put a muzzle over its snout to keep it from biting you while you help it. Only try this if you feel it is necessary for you to stay safe. This only works for a long-snouted dog and won’t work for a flat-faced breed like a pug.

    • Be sure that the puppy is not vomiting before trying to muzzle it; if it vomits with a muzzle on it could choke.
    • You can use a strip of towel, gauze, a knee high sock, or panty hose to gently tie the dog’s muzzle shut.[6]
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    Determine how badly the puppy is injured. Some injuries require immediate emergency care, and other injuries are less severe and you can care for them yourself. While there may be internal injuries that you can’t see, you can try to evaluate the situation and determine what you should do next based on how the puppy looks and acts.

    • If you see lots of blood, or if the puppy is actively losing lots of blood, it might be an emergency situation. A puppy that simply has a skin condition such as mange will still need medical care, but it may not be an emergency.
    • A puppy that is easily moving around is less severely injured than if it is lying on the ground whimpering. Try to figure out if the animal can or should walk, or if it needs to be carried.
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    Administer first aid if you can. If there is a broken bone or an open wound and you have a first aid kit, consider trying to stabilize the injury with a homemade splint, gauze pads or wrappings until you can get to the vet.[7] If you don’t have a first aid kit, you can use your own clean shirt, a towel, a blanket, or anything else that is clean and handy.

    • Check out this helpful wikiHow article for more information on splinting a dog’s leg.
    • Use a clean rag or cloth to apply pressure to any bleeding, open wound. This will help to stop the bleeding until you can get help from a vet.
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    Move the puppy into your car. If the dog can walk, lead it to your car and place it into the back seat. If the dog’s injuries are too severe, you will need to pick up the dog. In this case, try to wrap the puppy in a towel, blanket, or shirt before you pick it up and be sure to keep your face away from its mouth to protect you from bites. Move quickly and carefully, and try not to move the dog too much because you could make its injuries worse.[8]

    • The dog might be frightened while you move it, so speak in a calm, soothing voice to reassure it.
    • If it’s a small puppy, consider placing it in a cardboard box or pet carrier. This can help keep it safe while you drive. Otherwise, ask someone to come with you and have them hold the puppy wrapped in a towel or blanket.
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    Call the emergency veterinary clinic. This will allow you to speak to a professional about the dog’s injuries and to get advice on how to get the puppy to the clinic for treatment. This will also ensure that the clinic is ready for you when you arrive with the injured puppy.[9]

    • Try to describe the dog’s size in pounds, approximate age if you can guess, and what you think its injuries might be. For instance, the puppy may have been hit by a car, attacked by a bigger dog, or may seem to have mange or a severe case of flea or tick infestation.
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    Find someone else who can help if you can’t take the puppy to the vet. If you cannot afford to take the injured puppy to the vet, try calling your local animal control or animal welfare department. These groups can usually help, or direct you to other groups who can. You can call them directly, or call your local police department’s non-emergency number for more information.

    • This is usually easiest during business hours on weekdays, but don’t give up if you can’t get ahold of someone. If you live in a major city, search online for rescue groups. If the puppy looks to be a particular breed (or a mix containing a particular breed), search online for breed-specific rescue groups in your city or state (for instance, the Boxer Rescue of Oklahoma).
    • You can also try using Facebook or other social media outlets to find help for the injured puppy. Many cities have pet lost and found groups or animal rescue groups, and members are often willing to help rescue injured dogs or even pitch in for veterinary bills. Search Facebook for “dog rescue” and the name of your city. If you have a big social network, share a picture of the puppy and a plea for help, and ask your friends to share your post.


Getting Medical Attention for the Puppy

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    Take the injured puppy to an emergency veterinary clinic. You should be aware that when you take the puppy to the clinic, you will have to pay for its treatment.[10] If the dog has extensive injuries, the bill might be quite high. However, if the dog has moderate to severe injuries, veterinary aid is a necessary part of caring for the dog.
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    Tell the emergency vet that this dog is a stray. Tell the vet that you do not know the puppy’s age or medical history, how long it has been a stray, the last time it ate or drank, or the last time it received any care for its injuries. This will let the vet know that they need to make a complete examination of the dog for its overall health and wellbeing, in addition to caring for the puppy’s injuries. In addition to assessing the pup’s injuries, the vet will probably test for:[11]

    • Parvovirus
    • Ringworm fungus
    • Bacterial Dermatitis
    • Mange
    • Internal parasites, such as worms
    • Ticks and fleas
    • Ear mites
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    Consider signing over your rights to the puppy in exchange for free service.Some veterinary clinics will provide free services to stray animals, but in order to receive these services, you are expected to give up all rights and knowledge of the animal you’ve found.[12] This means that you cannot wait with the animal while it is being treated, or call the veterinary office for updates.

    • If you do not have the funds to care for the dog, or if you are not attached to the pup, this might be a good option if it is available to you.
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    Let the vet do their job. In an event where you’re seeing an injured animal in pain, it is easy to forget that the vet is specially trained to handle these situations. The vet does not need your questions, advice, or help, and offering these things will only slow the vet down and make it take longer for the dog to receive necessary treatment.

    • In the event of serious injury, the vet might suggest euthanasia.[13] Be sure to listen to what they have to say, ask for alternative treatment plans, and consider the level of discomfort the dog is experiencing and it’s likelihood of recovery.[14]When in doubt trust your vet’s recommendations.


Taking Care of the Puppy at Your Home

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    Treat any minor wounds or skin abrasions. The vet may recommend applying a certain medicated ointment or administering oral medications depending on the puppy’s injury. Be sure to follow any directions that the vet gives, and don’t miss any doses.

    • Some medications like antibiotics or skin creams have to be administered even after the symptoms of illness or injury have passed. Be sure to use the full course of medication, and don’t skip any doses.
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    Give the puppy a warm bath, if it is safe to do so. If you are going to try to nurse the puppy back to health, you want to be sure it is clean before bringing it into your home.

    • You can’t use a flea or tick shampoo on a puppy younger than 12 weeks or so, but some veterinarians recommend using liquid dish soap such as blue Dawn to remove dirt and grease from the puppy’s fur. If the puppy has ticks, pull them off at the head using a pair of tweezers and flush them down the toilet or smash them before discarding.
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    Give the puppy somewhere warm to sleep. Puppies that are six weeks or less need lots of warmth, since they are used to cuddling up with their mother and littermates.

    • A pet crate with a few towels or baby blankets inside will serve as a warm place for him or her to get some rest while recovering from their injuries.
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    Give the puppy plenty of food and water as it recovers. Puppies’ diets vary based on their age, so it is important to ask the vet for an estimate on how old the puppy might be and what the vet recommends for it to eat.

    • A very young puppy will need to be bottle fed using a special puppy formula, but puppies can eat dry puppy food starting at around five weeks of age. You can get the proper food at your local pet store.
    • Ask the vet if he or she recommends a special diet while the puppy recovers. Sometimes a critically ill or injured dog will need a critical care diet, which is easier to digest and more calorie-dense for a dog who has a lower appetite due to illness.[15]
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    Feed your puppy according to its age and size. For example, a seven week old, seven pound puppy will need to eat about half a cup of dry puppy food three times a day.

    • Always have a bowl of clean, cool water available for your puppy.


Trying to Find the Owner

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    Look for a microchip.[16] After the puppy has been treated for its injuries, have the vet scan it for a microchip to see if it has an owner. It is possible that the puppy managed to escape from its home and that its owner is looking for it.

    • If the dog does have a microchip, make sure that you contact the owner. Sometimes the vet will offer to board the puppy until its owner can pick it up.
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    Take the dog to a trusted animal shelter. If the puppy has no tags, nor a microchip, and you are unable to keep it, take it to a local animal shelter. Taking a stray animal to the shelter is still the quickest way to reunite a lost pet with its owner.[17]
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    Post fliers of the puppy. If you choose to keep the puppy while you search for its owner, post fliers of the dog along with your contact information in heavily trafficked areas of your town. These fliers might help to reunite the owner with the puppy. Here are some places you might post fliers:[18]

    • Grocery Stores
    • Veterinarian Offices
    • Humane Society
    • Local Animal Shelters
    • Telephone poles at busy intersections
    • College Campuses
    • Social media sites, like Facebook or Nextdoor
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    Verify the owner. If someone contacts you stating that they are the owner of the puppy, ask questions to make sure this is true. You might even ask for proof of ownership, such as pictures of the pup, the dog’s ID tags, vet records, or an adoption contract.[19] You should also offer to personally deliver the puppy to the owner’s home so that you can make sure that the pup is well cared for and lives in a loving home.
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    Adopt the pup. If you are unable to locate the owner of the puppy, you may choose to adopt the dog. In order to adopt the puppy as your own, you need to check the laws for dog ownership in your city or state.[20] [Image:Take Care of an Injured Stray Puppy Step 8.jpg|center]]

    • In some areas, you will need to contact the animal control agency or the humane society to report finding the animal, prove that you’ve made a reasonable attempt to find the owner of the dog, and demonstrate that you want to adopt the puppy.
    • You will need to get the puppy vaccinated, licensed, and microchipped. You should also get a collar with ID tags for the puppy.[21][


How to Stop a Dog’s Quick from Bleeding

The quick is the tender part inside a dog’s nail that contains nerves and blood vessels. If you cut the quick, your dog will yelp and, because of the blood vessels inside the quick, begin to bleed. If that happens, don’t panic. There are four primary options for stopping a bleeding quick: using a styptic pencil, using a bar of soap, using potassium permanganate, or, in emergencies, taking the dog to your vet.[1] The following offers instructions for how to proceed with each.


Using a Styptic Pencil

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    Gather supplies. If you’re using a styptic pencil, you’ll need it and a bit of water to moisten it with.

    • Styptic pencils are relatively easy to obtain and contain an astringent that stimulates blood vessel contraction, which encourages bleeding to stop.[2]
    • Styptic pencils are available from most pharmacies.
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    Remain calm. Hopefully you’ve anticipated this scenario, and, if you happen to cut the quick, you can calmly reach the materials you gathered beforehand.

    • The blood loss from a bleeding quick is not dangerous to a healthy dog.[3] The bleeding nail can, however, look a bit alarming, especially if the dog is scrambling around and spreading blood over the floor. Know that the dog is in no danger, but act quickly to minimize its discomfort.
    • Remember that remaining calm is important for you but also for your dog. The quick is tender and full of nerves, so having it clipped will be painful to your dog and it will be looking to you for cues about how to react. If you get panicked or frantic, your dog likely will, too.
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    Staunch the bleeding. The quick is located in the center of the nail, and you’ll see blood seeping from this area.

    • Grab your styptic pencil and remove any packaging.
    • Expose and moisten the tip of the styptic pencil.
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    Apply the styptic pencil. Hold the bleeding toe steady and gently restrain your dog to prevent it from moving while you apply the styptic pencil.

    • Place the styptic pencil directly in contact with the bleeding toe and press firmly.
    • Keep the pencil held firmly in place for at least 2 minutes, then remove.
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    Repeat. If the bleeding hasn’t stopped, repeat the process above but hold the styptic pencil in place for 5 minutes.

    • The bleeding should stop after holding the pencil in place for five minutes. If it doesn’t phone your vet and ask whether you should bring your dog in.

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Method 1 Quiz

Why is it important to remain calm if you cut a dog’s quick?


Using a Bar of Soap

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    Collect your supplies. If you’re using a bar of soap, the soap is the only thing you’ll need.

    • An ordinary bar of soap, when pressed into the claw, will form a plug that covers the quick, like putting a cork in a bottle.[4] This plug generally dislodges itself several hours later and needs no further attention.
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    Maintain your calm. Ideally you’ve prepared yourself for this situation and can calmly use the materials you have ready at hand to stop the bleeding.

    • A healthy dog won’t be at risk from blood loss from a bleeding quick, but the blood can be somewhat alarming, particularly if your dog seems distressed.[5] Know that the dog is in no danger, but act quickly to minimize its discomfort.
    • Remaining calm is important to both you and your dog. If you cut the dog’s quick, the dog will likely be distressed and will look to you for cues on how to react. If you show alarm or become frantic, your dog likely will, too.
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    Hold the bleeding nail at 90 degrees to the dry soap. Gently restrain your dog to keep it still as you do this.

    • Push firmly so that the nail is embedded into the soap to a depth of approximately 3 – 4 millimeters.
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    Hold the foot still in this position for 3 – 4 minutes. This places gentle pressure on the blood vessels and stops them from bleeding.

    • Remove the toe from the soap after 3 – 4 minutes with a gentle twisting action.
    • If your dog won’t hold still, push the claw firmly into the soap and then remove the soap with a slight twist of the wrist.
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    Repeat. If a plug doesn’t form, repeat the above process again, pressing the claw into the soap until you’re successful.

    • You’ll know a plug has successfully been formed when the soap is blocking the tip of the nail and no more blood is seeping through.
    • If the bleeding won’t stop, contact your vet.

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Method 2 Quiz

What should you do if your dog won’t hold still when you’re trying to help it?


Using Potassium Permanganate

  1. 1

    Get your supplies ready. If you’re using potassium permanganate, you’ll need the potassium permanganate crystals, cotton swabs, and a bit of water to moisten the swabs.

    • Potassium permanganate is a powder made up of bright purple crystals and is the preferred method of veterinarians to stop bleeding nails.[6]
    • It’s highly effective and the permanganate is a natural disinfectant.[7]
    • Potassium permanganate crystals are widely available on internet retail sites.
  2. 2

    Stay calm. Ideally you’ve anticipated this scenario and can calmly use the materials you’ve prepared to stop the bleeding.

    • The blood loss from a bleeding nail is not dangerous to a healthy dog.[8] The bleeding nail can, however, look a bit dramatic, especially if the dog scrambles around spreading blood all over the floor. Know that the dog is in no danger, but act quickly to minimize its discomfort.
    • Remember that remaining calm is important for you but also for your dog. The quick is tender and full of nerves, so having it clipped will be painful to your dog and it will be looking to you for cues on how to react. If you get panicked or frantic, your dog likely will, too.
  3. 3

    Moisten the tip of a cotton swab with water. It’s important that the swab be slightly moist so that the potassium permanganate crystals will adhere to it.[9]

    • You don’t need to soak the swab, just dampen it with a few drops of water.
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    Press the swab into the bleeding quick and hold for 30 seconds. Gently restrain your dog while you apply the swab.

    • The bleeding should stop fairly quickly.
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    Repeat. If the bleeding hasn’t stopped, repeat the above process again, this time holding the swab in place for 5 minutes.[10]

    • If after 5 minutes the bleeding still hasn’t stopped, contact your vet.

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Method 3 Quiz

Why should you have water on hand when using potassium permanganate?


Contacting the Vet

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    Contact your vet if the bleeding continues. In the unlikely situation that none of the methods above work to stop the bleeding, phone your veterinarian for advice.[11]

    • If the vet recommends bringing your dog in, calmly begin preparing your dog for transport.
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    Bandage the paw. Do your best to bandage the paw before transporting your dog to the vet.

    • Use a bandage from a first aid kit to put a temporary dressing over the paw to help stop the dog from hitting the sore nail and to keep the car a bit cleaner.
    • Alternatively, you can place a swab or gauze dressing over the toe and wrap a bandage around the paw to hold it in place. Put enough tension on the bandage that it grips the paw and doesn’t fall off, but don’t pull it too taut or the bandage may cut off circulation to the paw. If the bandage is too tight, your dog will seem distressed and chew at the bandage; if that happens, loosen the wrapping.
    • If you don’t have access to a first aid kit, wrap clean toilet tissue or cotton wool around the toe and apply a tight-fitting sock over the paw to hold it in place. If you have someone available to help, ask them to hold cotton wool over the nail while you’re en route to the vet.
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    Have the vet or a professional groomer trim your dog’s nails. If you find that you have difficulty trimming your dog’s nails yourself, perhaps because you’re nervous about hurting your dog or your dog has learned to fear nail trimmings, you best option may be to try having it professionally done.

    • If your dog shows noticeable distress at going to the groomer’s or to the vet’s, you might consider asking the vet or groomer to show you better strategies for trimming your dog’s nails at home.
    • If you’re able to get more comfortable trimming the nails yourself, you may be able to avoid giving your dog the extra anxiety that may be associated with going to the groomer or vet.[12]


How to Stop a Dog’s Ear from Bleeding

If you’ve ever had a dog cut the tip of its ear, you know how difficult it can be to stop the ear from bleeding. Even with pressure and towels to slow down the bleeding, once you remove the towel from his ear and he feels the tingling sense, he will shake his head and start the flow all over again. With a little bit of research, you can stop the blood flow and keep the dog from re-opening the wound.


Stopping the Dog’s Ear from Bleeding

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    Remain calm. Ears bleed a lot due to the abundance of blood vessels in the ear. In many cases, there is a lot of blood. Don’t worry. Chances are good the dog will not bleed too severely. Also, dogs feed off the emotional energy of their humans. If you are upset or panicked, your dog will get excited. Excitement raises the blood pressure, which leads to more bleeding.
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    Move the dog to a quiet location. You want to remove the dog from other sources or excitement such as other dogs or noisy people. Provide a couple of treats and get the dog to sit or lay down, so you can tend to the injury.
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    Apply pressure to the injury. Use a dry, clean paper towel, washcloth, pieces of sterile gauze, or any other clean cloth to apply direct pressure to the cut. Keep firm pressure on the cut for up to five minutes.[1]

    • At two minutes, you can gently lift the towel or cloth to see if the bleeding has slowed.
    • After five minutes of pressure, most bleeding should have slowed considerably or stopped.
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    Apply a clotting aid. If you have a commercial clotting aid—the kind you can purchase in the store—pour an ample amount of powder into the palm of one of your hands. Using a clean fingertip, apply the clotting aid to the wound using gentle pressure.[2]Repeat until the bleeding stops completely.

    • If you don’t have a clotting aid, cornstarch, flour, or baby powder will work.
    • Do not use baking soda or baking powder as they can lead to an infection in the cut.
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    Clean up the area. You can use diluted hydrogen peroxide to remove any dried blood from your dog. However, do not use this or anything else directly on the wound. That might disturb the clot and cause bleeding again.
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    Call the veterinarian. Though you can handle most small ear cuts at home, there are some situations where you should allow your vet to treat the dog. In these situations, continue to apply pressure to the wound as you transport your dog to the clinic. The ear may need sutures or other measures to stop the blood flow and ensure the ear heals properly. Seek a vet’s assistance if:[3]

    • There is profuse bleeding
    • The wound goes through the ear
    • The bleeding doesn’t stop after 10 minutes of home treatment
    • The bleeding keeps restarting
    • The wound is larger than a simple cut


Keeping the Dog from Re-Opening the Wound

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    Observe the dog in a quiet environment. Keep the dog in the quiet spot, so he can rest and you can keep a close eye on him. Make sure that the dog does not participate in any activity such as running or playing.
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    Try to keep the dog from shaking or scratching at the ear.[4] If the dog shakes its head or scratches due to sensations from the wound, he can re-open the wound and cause further bleeding.

    • Another potential complication from vigorous head shaking or scratching is the formation of an aural hematoma, which is a blood clot between the layers of the ear. This happens when a blood vessel beneath the skin and cartilage breaks and bleeds into the ear cartilage. The ear will swell like a pillow. These need to be treated by a veterinarian.[5]
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    Use an Elizabethian collar for two or three days. To minimize complications, you can use an Elizabethian collar (also known as an e-collar, cone or recovery collar) for two or three days.[6] This will prevent the dog from reaching the ear with a foot.
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    Clean the ear. You can minimize the dog’s desire to shake its head by carefully cleaning the ear and ear canal. Remove any bothersome blood or debris in the canal or inside the ear.
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    Create a head bandage. Another option is to create a head bandage for the dog. This is especially helpful if the dog keeps flapping its ears. You will need to sacrifice a stocking for this option. Cut the toe off the stocking to form a tube. Fold the ears back over the head, using a piece of gauze on the wound. Carefully slide the stocking over the head. The nose and eyes should remain open with the stocking placed just beyond the eyes.

    • Make sure the fit is snug but not too tight. You should easily be able to fit a finger under the stocking both on the head and the neck.
    • Leave the bandage on for a day, then remove it and check the ear wound. If needed, you can replace it for another day as long as it remains clean and dry.


How to Take a Dog’s Temperature Without Using a Thermometer

Knowing whether your dog has a fever gives you the option to start treatment early and prevent her condition from getting worse. Although the only way to accurately know if your dog has a fever is by using a rectal thermometer, knowing how to feel a dog’s temperature quickly when you do not have a thermometer can make a big difference.


Assessing Your Dog’s Temperature

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    Feel your dog’s ears and paws. A dog with fever usually has very hot ears and paws. You can gauge his temperature by using sensitive body parts like your cheeks and the back of your hands over his ears and paws. Are his warmer than yours? Healthy dogs only run slightly higher in temperature than humans.

    • A dog’s ears and paws have a lot of blood vessels. When he has a fever, these areas get hot because of the migration of immune cells from the blood into the areas of the body where an infection is taking place. The increase in the circulating immune cells in the blood can manifest as heat in the blood vessels.
    • It is unusual for the left and right ear to be different temperatures. If one ear is warmer than the other, this is usually a sign of a localized ear infection, rather than a generalized fever.
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    Feel your dog’s nose. If your dog has a hot nose lined with greenish or yellowish nasal discharge, it’s likely he has a fever and an infection.[1] This could mean that your dog is fighting off a respiratory infection, though this may be evident only in more serious cases. Certain diseases like distemper and kennel cough have these clinical signs, too. Therefore it is incredibly important that you quickly bring your dog to the vet if you see greenish or yellowish nasal discharges.

    • A normal dog can have a fluctuating temperature and level of wetness – it’s a myth that dog noses are always cold and wet. In fact, the nose often becomes dry from common situations, such as lying in the sun, sleeping near the radiator, exercising, or when the dog is dehydrated. What does your dog’s nose normally feel like? Has he done any of these things recently to account for a dry, hot nose?
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    Feel your dog’s armpits and groin area. These areas are usually swollen and hot when your dog has an infection and fever. You can use the back of your hands to feel for heat in the lymph nodes in the armpits and groin area. However, make sure your own hands are at room temperature, not chilled or hot, as they provide your reference point.

    • Lymph nodes contain immune cells that fight bacteria and viruses. They filter the blood against these infectious organisms, and when there is an infection, the lymph nodes serve as a defense area. This area then becomes filled with immune cells that secrete different substances that trigger the brain to cause fever. These areas become swollen and hot because they become inflamed as a result of the different immune reactions going on simultaneously.
    • Because the armpit and groin areas of the dog have a lot of exposed skin with very little fur, feeling for heat in these areas can be done easily.
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    Examine his gums. Your dog’s gums may feel warm and dry if he has a fever. Another important sign to watch for here is his gums appearing redder than usual, especially a bright brick red. This can be a sign of high fever, or even septicemia.

    • In a dog without dental disease, the gums should be moist, shiny, and a similar pink color to our own gums. Lift up the dog’s lip behind the upper canine tooth, and place the tip of your forefinger against the gum to assess temperature and moistness. Is the color, heat, and moistness similar to yours? If not, infection may be present.
  5. 5

    Check for signs of low temperature. An unwell dog, or one in shock, may have a low body temperature. In addition to having cold extremities, the dog may show physiological temperature adaptations such as shaking or getting goosebumps. A dog with a dangerously low temperature will also be very subdued, and possibly collapsed. In this case, seek out your vet immediately.

    • Be aware that not all shaking dogs are cold; this can also be a response to stress, anxiety or pain. If you know of no reason for your dog to be acting like this, contact your vet as soon as possible.

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Part 1 Quiz

Why is the armpit or groin area a good place to check your dog for a fever?


Assessing Your Dog’s Appearance

  1. 1

    Look for the other signs of fever. Apart from physical temperature, one of the first things you can do is to observe your dog for other physical signs of fever. It’s important to be alert for changes in normal behavior from having difficulty defecating, to coughing or sneezing, since this may provide vital information as to the seat of infection.[2]Possible symptoms include:[3]

    • Poor appetite
    • Lethargy, sluggishness or inactivity
    • Weakness
    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Sleeping all day
    • Withdrawing away from other dogs
  2. 2

    Observe your dog’s appearance and behavior. When a dog runs a significant fever, from a few feet away and without touching him, you can feel heat radiating from his body. There will be a handful of other visible symptoms you can look for, too:

    • He is likely to be panting heavily for prolonged periods of time, and his breath will feel hot against your cheek.
    • He may be thirsty and drink more water than usual, because he loses fluid as he pants.
    • A fever can make joints feel achy and sore. In the dog this manifests itself as a reluctance to exercise, stiffness on rising and a stilted gait or even lameness.
    • A dog with a fever will be withdrawn, quiet and lethargic. He may become uncharacteristically aggressive when touched, because he feels uncomfortable and irritable.
    • He is less likely to groom and his coat will appear unkempt and “starry,” or dull and dry.
  3. 3

    Stroke, pet, and engage your dog in play. Try to remember the feel of your dog’s body when he is not sick. Are his eyes dull? His coat less silky? Is he less rambunctious and eager than usual? Changes in these physical and behavioral characteristics may be a sign of illness.
  4. 4

    If he seems well, assess him again in an hour. If the dog is behaving naturally, is hot but seems otherwise well, let him rest in a cool place for an hour and then re-check his temperature again to see if the signs you did detect have normalized. Since a fever is a normal immune response, it may just be something you have to wait out if it’s not serious.

    • Remember, if the temperature of the dog’s extremities is raised and he is behaving abnormally, this is more likely to be significant than for a warm dog that appears otherwise well. It’s infection you need to be worried about, not fever.

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Part 2 Quiz

What is a non-physical sign of fever in a dog?


Understanding Fever in Dogs

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    Know that fever is a normal immune response. In most situations, fever is nothing to worry about. It’s a good indicator that the body is fighting back an infection or is undergoing repairs. In some situations, however, fever can be the sign of a bacterial infection. If your dog is displaying any abnormal symptoms, contact your vet immediately.

    • When bacterial infections with gram negative bacteria are present, they release toxins from their cell walls that act as signals to the brain to cause fever. In these cases severe bacterial infection can lead to even more severe fever with a very high temperature.[4] This extreme temperature, instead of helping the animal can lead to damages to sensitive organs, like the testicles and the brain. When this happens, convulsions and coma, and sometimes sterility, can result. Thus it is very important that a fever be detected earlier, and a prompt veterinary therapy be given to prevent these unwanted effects.
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    Call the vet. When in doubt, contact your vet for a professional opinion. In addition to seeking medical treatment if abnormal symptoms are present, it’s a good idea to take this fever seriously if it lasts for more than 24 hours, too. Your vet can prescribe an anti-pyretic (anti-fever) medication to bring his temperature down almost immediately.
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    Consider other related physical ailments. If your dog’s fever is related to another, often more serious, condition, you’ll notice another set of symptoms entirely. It could be a more serious respiratory or gastro-intestinal infection. Be on the lookout for the following:

    • If he has a respiratory infection he may cough, sneeze, and have a runny nose or streaming eyes. This will likely impede his normally rambunctious behavior and sleep patterns, too.
    • If he has gastro-intestinal infection or inflammation, then he may be anorexic, vomit or have diarrhea. If you suspect he has a gastro-intestinal disturbance, follow him outside when he toilets so that you can see what he passes. Does he have diarrhea? Is there blood in his urine?
    • If you notice anything abnormal related to either condition, consult your vet immediately. There is likely an infection present; fever is just one of many symptoms present that need to be addressed.


How to Respond After Hitting a Dog or Cat With Your Car

Striking a dog or cat with your car is a traumatic event for the animal and you. There are a number of steps you need to take to handle the animal you’ve hit, stay out of the way of traffic, and protect yourself.


Securing the Scene

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    Pull off to the side of the road immediately. Slowly drive or coast your car to the shoulder of the road. If you were in a lane near a median when you struck the animal, then you might need to pull onto a soft patch on the median. Make sure you are completely out of any lanes of traffic, but relatively close to the pet you hit.[1]

    • Ideally, you won’t have to cross the road to reach the stricken animal.
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    Place signals around. If you have reflective triangles or flares then place them at 10 feet, 100 feet, and 200 feet intervals towards approaching traffic. If this has occurred at night, then you should also put on your 4-way emergency flashers by activating the button on your dashboard.[2]
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    Call the authorities. If you are injured dial 9-1-1 immediately. Otherwise, you need to call the police within 24 hours to report the details of the accident regardless if you have found the owners.[3]

    • If you don’t have a working cell phone, and no call box is nearby, tend to the animal first. Do not leave the scene unattended.
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    Take out your emergency supplies. If you have a first aid kit, then this is the time to take it out. Take out anything you can use as a blanket, and as a bandage too. You may also need something you can bind the animal’s mouth with if it’s overly aggressive.

    • Some animals will become aggressive when injured.
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    Move the animal. Use a coat or blanket to cover the animal’s head and eyes, which will help keep them calm and provide some protection if they try to bite. Then, swaddle the dog or cat in a blanket or similar large cloth with both arms. If you have a thick piece of wood or similar object that can be used as a stretcher under the blanket and pet, then this is a good way to lessen the chance for injury. Pick them up with as little jostling as possible and move them either to your car’s back seat or a safer part of the roadside for further care.[4]

    • If the animal looks to be severely bleeding and/or have broken bones you will need to apply first aid before moving them.
    • If the animal seems aggressive, rip off a long strip of t-shirt or cloth and wrap it around their muzzle in a figure-eight motion. Secure it behind their ears to prevent them from biting.


Aiding the Animal

  1. 1

    Look for injuries on the animal. Look particularly for bleeding, fractures (exposed bones or limbs at odd angles), burns, signs of shock (shallow breathing, nervousness, dazed eyes, erratic pulse if you can take it), and problems with breathing. Phone ahead to an emergency veterinarian or have a helper do it while you tend to the pet.[5]
  2. 2

    Put securing devices on the pet. Except for the case of a pet that is not breathing you need to keep the animal restrained at the muzzle and body to apply other kinds of first aid. You can use simple, but tough fabrics like a t-shirt or rags to wrap around the dog’s snout or cat’s head for a muzzle. Wrap them around enough times to restrict motion, but not cut off breathing. Tie a simple knot to secure the wrapping. Do the same for the legs if they are not broken.[6]

    • Try to use clean rags to avoid infection.
  3. 3

    Stop the minor bleeding. For external bleeding, apply clean gauze from a first aid kit by pressing a pad of it on the wound and holding it in place for 3 minutes until a clot forms.[7]

    • If you see bleeding from internal areas such as the mouth, rectum, or urine then all you can do is keep the dog or cat calm until you get it to a veterinarian.
    • For more severe external bleeding you will need to use a tourniquet.
  4. 4

    Apply a tourniquet. If the dog or cat has extensive external bleeding on a limb, then you need to apply a tourniquet and bandage. Use gauze from the first aid kit or an elastic material you have on hand to tie a knot between the wound and the body. Press a gauze or clean cloth bandage onto the wound. Remove the tourniquet for 20 seconds every 15-20 minutes and reapply it if necessary.[8]

    • A pet losing this much blood will require a veterinarian’s attention immediately.
    • Do not leave the tourniquet on for more than 10 minutes. It will start to cut off blood supply to the rest of the limb, leading to tissue damage or even death.
  5. 5

    Apply ice or water to burns. If you notice burns from either your car’s or road chemicals on the dog or cat, then you need to apply cold water and/or ice. Flush the wound thoroughly with water and apply an ice compress until you can get the pet to a veterinarian.[9]
  6. 6

    Stabilize fractures. If the fracture isn’t too severe you can try to create a makeshift splint from cloth and a solid piece of wood. Align the wood on both sides of the broken dog’s or cat’s fractured limb, wrap both tightly with the cloth or blanket. Tie off the cloth.[10]

    • Bad splints can’t make the fracture worse. If you are unsure about the splint you are making then leave it up to the veterinarian. Just make sure you are transporting the pet with as little jostling as possible.
  7. 7

    Treat for shock. If you’ve observed the stricken dog or cat acting nervous, breathing shallow, or the eyes darting about then it may be in shock. If the animal is unconscious this is also possible. In any case, you need to keep the dog or cat warm and restrained so it does not hurt itself. Keep the animal’s head level with the body. Get it to the veterinarian immediately.[11]
  8. 8

    Administer rescue breathing. If the dog or cat is not breathing you can perform a procedure similar to that used on humans. Open the dog’s or cat’s mouth. Pull out the tongue gently until it is flat. Make sure there are no foreign objects. Close your pet’s mouth again. Breath directly into its nose until the pet’s chest expands. Repeat this every 4-5 seconds.[12]

    • If there are any foreign objects in the throat, then you should remove them with pliers or tweezers first.
  9. 9

    Do chest compressions. In the event, the stricken dog or cat has no heartbeat you should lay your dog or cat gently on its right side. Hearts of these pets are in the lower left side of the chest area. For a dog, press in on the heart area one-inch deep (adjust harder or softer for the size of the animal). For a cat, hold your hand around the animal’s chest so your thumb is on the left side and your fingers are on the right side of the chest. Compress the chest by squeezing between your thumb and fingers. Press 80-120 times/minute for large animals, and 100-150 times/minute for small ones.[13]

    • Do not do this simultaneously with rescue breathing.
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    Look for identifying information. See if the pet you struck has owner’s information on the collar, matches any posters or ads in the area, or has a radio frequency identification chip (RFID). Call the owner and inform them of what has occurred, where you are taking the pet, and ask for any special instructions that might be necessary for the care of the pet.[14]
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    Take the pet to an emergency veterinarian. Once you’ve administered first aid to the pet you should keep it warm and secured in your back seat if your car is still drivable. Call, locate, and drive to the nearest emergency veterinary clinic or animal hospital so the dog or cat can get more complete care. If your car is immobilized then you should call 9-1-1 and the police may be able to transport the pet for you.


Managing Yourself

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    Look for damage on your car. Take photos of the car from all angles if possible. Ask a family member or friend with a camera to come and take photos if you can’t.[15]

    • Take photos of damage and area before you leave the scene or your car is moved for any reason other than clearing traffic.
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    Contact your insurance company. You need to file a claim that includes the photos of the damage to your car, the police report, and any information you collected on the pet (including its owner). You can call your insurance company’s claims representative or file online.[16]

    • The company will evaluate your car’s damage values and recommend one or more repair shops to use. This will require comprehensive coverage on most policies.
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    Take your car in for repairs. Use one of the shops your insurance company covers so you get properly reimbursed.[17]

    • This most likely will mean body work if you hit a dog or a cat.


How to Stop a Dog from Bleeding

With quick thinking and care you can stop your dog’s bleeding and keep it safe. Slow or prevent blood loss by putting pressure on bleeding wounds. While you do this, try to keep your dog as calm as possible. Whether big or small, all bleeding wounds should be examined by a vet to prevent blood loss or infection.


Stopping Life-Threatening Bleeding

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    Put pressure on the wound if it is spurting blood. If your dog is bleeding intensely, put pressure on the artery or wound that’s bleeding immediately. Use a clean cloth, towel, or other absorbent material like a diaper or sanitary pad. Spurting, fast-flowing blood is a sign of arterial damage that could lead to extreme blood loss or hemorrhaging. [1]

    • Be sure to keep constant pressure on the wound by pressing on it or wrapping a bandage around it.
    • If blood begins to seep through the material you are holding over it, leave the first compress there and add another on top of it. Never remove a compress from a severe wound.
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    Do not remove any foreign objects from your dog’s wound. If a foreign object has caused your dog’s injury and is still lodged in the wound, leave it there. Removing it may cut an artery or cause further damage that will increase the bleeding and endanger your dog. Carefully put pressure on the wound around the object and wait for a veterinarian to remove the object safely.[2]
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    Wrap your dog in a towel or blanket to keep it calm and warm. Trauma can cause shock to your dog’s nervous system. If possible, wrap your dog in a large blanket or towel before transporting it to the vet to help it relax and feel more secure. This will also immobilize your dog somewhat if it is struggling or acting aggressively.[3]

    • Symptoms of shock include shallow breathing, agitation, weakness, and rapid heartbeat.[4]
    • Do not assume that your dog is not in shock if you don’t see signs right away. The early stages of shock can be hard to recognize.
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    Keep pressure on the wound and get your dog to the vet quickly. Bring your dog to the nearest emergency clinic as soon as possible to be treated to minimize its blood loss. A vet should be able to stop the bleeding, remove any foreign objects, stitch up the wound, and check for internal bleeding. The vet may also be able to give your dog a blood transfusion or IV fluids if necessary. [5]

    • Keep the information for the nearest 24-hour veterinary clinic on your fridge or memo board to access easily in the event of an emergency.


Controlling Moderate Bleeding

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    Restrain your dog if possible. If your dog is in pain it may struggle or bite while you try to treat its wound. If possible, have another family member or friend restrain your dog while you examine its injury. Be sure to handle your dog firmly but gently to avoid causing it extra pain.[6]

    • To restrain your dog, kneel down by your dog’s side so you’re facing its head. Then, take your arm that’s furthest from your dog and hook it under your dog’s chin. Take your other arm and wrap it around your dog’s chest, behind its front legs. Finally, pull your dog close to your body and hold it there.
    • Restraining your dog may help to calm it down if it feels panicked by its injury.
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    Muzzle your dog to avoid being bitten. Even the most docile dog may bite its owner after suffering a disorienting injury. Before treating your dog’s wound, muzzle it gently to prevent biting. Be sure that the muzzle does not touch the wound.[7]

    • If your dog’s wound is located too close to its mouth to muzzle it, proceed with caution.
    • If you do not have a muzzle, you can wrap gauze around your dog’s mouth temporarily to keep it from biting you.
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    Apply gauze to the bleeding area and put pressure on it for 20 minutes. If your dog has a small wound, cover it with a clean piece of medical gauze. Apply constant pressure to the wound for up to 20 minutes to slow or stop the bleeding. If your dog has a large laceration, place a clean towel over the wound.[8]

    • If the bleeding continues after 20 minutes, bring your dog to a vet right away.
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    Wrap a sports bandage around your dog to hold the bandage in place. Gently wrap a sports bandage or a long strand of soft material around your dog’s head, limb, or torso to keep the gauze over the wound. Avoid wrapping it too tight, which may restrict your dog’s breathing or circulation. Tie the bandage or material firmly with a knot.[9]

    • Avoid using tape to keep the bandage in place as it will adhere to your dog’s fur and cause irritation and hair loss.
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    Raise your dog’s limb above heart-level if it is bleeding. If one of your dog’s front or back paws is injured, you can slow down the bleeding by raising it above heart level. This will be the easiest to do if your dog is lying on its side, with the injured limb facing upwards. Keep gentle pressure on the wound.[10]

    • Similarly, if your dog has an ear injury and long ears, gently pull the ear up above its head to help stop the bleeding. [11]
  6. 6

    Bring your dog to a vet as soon as possible after bandaging its wound. Your dog may get an infection if its wound is left untreated for more than a day or two. Bring your dog to a veterinarian as soon as you can to evaluate and treat the injury. Your vet can also provide advice for how to care for the wound while it heals.[12]

    • Your vet may also have to check for internal bleeding, depending on the injury your dog suffered.


Stopping Bleeding After Nail Trimming

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    Keep your dog still so that you can control the bleeding. If you accidentally cut one of your dog’s nails too short while trimming it, make sure your pet doesn’t run off and spread blood around your home. While the injury is not serious, it can bleed quite a bit. If possible, have a friend or family member hold your dog while you treat the nail.[13]

    • If you do not have another person to brace your dog, try to restrain it as gently as possibly using a leash if necessary.
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    Use a styptic stick on the tip of the nail to stop the bleeding. Veterinarians use styptic sticks to stop bleeding nails quickly. If you have one on hand, gently press the tip to the injured nail for several minutes until the bleeding stops. Purchase styptics sticks at pets stores or online.[14]

    • Purchase styptic sticks to keep on hand in case of this kind of trimming accident.
    • A styptic stick may cause temporary pain, but it will quickly stop the bleeding.
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    Use corn starch or flour if you don’t have styptic sticks. In a pinch, place a small amount of corn starch or flour on your fingertip and press it into the tip of your pet’s bleeding nail. The powder will help clot the blood after a moment or two.[15]

    • Keep light pressure on the nail until the bleeding appears to stop.
    • Do not bandage your dog’s paw, which might make walking difficult.


How to Splint a Dog’s Leg

Say your dog breaks a bone in their leg like their shin or elbow bone, and then tries to stand and walk on the damaged bone. Placing weight on the broken limb will not only increase the amount of pain your dog will experience, it will also cause the bones to move apart and make the fracture worse. Bone rubbing against bone is extremely painful, so it’s imperative that you assess your dog’s injury and if necessary, create a splint for your dog’s injured leg before taking him to the vet.


Confirming Your Dog Needs a Split

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    Call your vet to attend to your injured dog. If you can avoid moving your dog or if he is injured in a low traffic area, call your vet to help you assess your dog’s injury.

    • If your dog appears to be okay to walk or move without a splint, it may not be necessary to make one. But, if his injury is pretty bad, the splint will support the bone and minimize any further damage en route to a vet clinic.
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    Move your dog to safe place. It’s important to get your dog to lay still to assess the injury, so you will need to move him to a safe place to examine his leg. If he has been hit by a vehicle and is lying in the middle of the highway and is small and light enough, pick him up and carry him to a safe area.

    • If your dog is too large for you to carry on your own, get a passerby to help you lift him to safety.
    • As a last resort, you can encourage your dog to stand and limp to a safe area.
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    Notice if your dog’s leg moves or wobbles in the wrong direction. Signs of obvious instability in your dog’s leg includes the leg moving in a direction it is not meant to.

    • For example, if your dog has a shin bone fracture, the shin bone may bend or bow when it should be straight, or the bone may angle in the wrong direction, such as pointing outwards when it should rest parallel to your dog’s body.
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    Look to see if the bone has penetrated the skin. If your dog’s injured bone is sticking out through his skin, a splint will help to stop the bone from moving any further.
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    Tie your dog down so he does not move or stand. If you determine that your dog’s injury needs a splint, you need to prevent your dog from standing or walking on his damaged leg by tying him to a piece of furniture or a post.

    • You can also get your neighbor to help you watch him to make sure he does not put weight on his damaged leg.


Gathering the Materials and Applying the First Protective Layer

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    Gather together the necessary materials in one place. You don’t want to get the first few layers of the splint on only to find you are missing a length of bandage so get all your materials together in one place before you make the splint. Pausing to search for more materials will also allow your dog to shake or move his leg while he is unsupervised, and potential undo all your hard work on the splint.

    • Get four to five rolls of cotton padding bandage (such as Soffban) and four to five rolls of cotton bandage.
    • A roll of zinc oxide tape.
    • A roll of crepe bandage (preferably a self-adhesive bandage such as Co-flex).
    • A roll of adhesive bandage (such as Elastoplast).
    • A splint. You want a splint that is a similar width and as long as the injured limb bone. A ruler or a wooden spatula can be acceptable splints in a pinch.
    • Scissors to cut the bandage material.
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    Get someone to help you hold your dog still. If your dog is conscious, it is helpful to a friend or neighbor assist you in holding your dog still. This will also prevent him from shaking off the dressing halfway through and if he gets snappy because of the pain, your assistant can help to calm him down while you work on the splint.
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    Lie your dog down on a padded surface with his injured leg in the air. Use a rug or a towel to create a soft, padded surface as your dog will be less likely to wiggle around if he is comfortable.
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    Position yourself on one side of your dog with his paws closest to you. Your assistant should stand with your dog’s back against their tummy, so that your dog’s legs are pointing away from them and towards you.
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    Have your assistant gently restrain your dog. If your dog is wiggling around, your assistant can gently rest their forearm over your dog’s neck to push your dog’s head to the floor. Your assistant can then use their free hand to grasp your dog’s leg, which should be resting on the ground.

    • Pinning down your dog’s head and holding his leg will stop him from getting up.
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    Cover any open wounds on your dog’s leg with a sterile gauze swab. To do this, cut two strips of zinc oxide tape so they are four-inches wider than the swab. Open the sterile swab packaging and place the swab on top of the open wound. Wrap the zinc oxide tape over the swab and wind it around your dog’s leg to anchor the swab in place.

    • Avoid stretching the tape because this could restrict the blood circulation to your dog’s leg.
    • If you do not have access to sterile swabs, use a piece of clean linen or cotton to cover the wound; a clean handkerchief would work just fine. Choose a material that is not fluffy and will not leave fibers in the wound. Do not use wool or fleece.
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    Apply a single layer of padding around your dog’s leg. Applying the splint directly to the skin can cause rubbing and discomfort so begin with a single layer of padding around your dog’s leg. You want to prevent the splint from resting against your dog’s skin, rather than pad the injury, so do not put lots of layers of padding at this stage. Too much padding can cause the splint to slip out of place.

    • Remove the wrapper from the sterile Soffban. If you are right-handed, hold the roll in your right hand with the tongue rolling down and under the roll, and facing away from you.
    • Start at the toes, and rest the tongue of the roll over the top of your dog’s paw. Hold it in place with the left hand and then wind the Soffban around the limb in a circular motion, with each wrap overlapping the previous by half the width of the Soffban.
    • Apply a little bit of tension to the Soffban as you wind, so that it stretches slightly but does not tear. Soffban will not cut off circulation on the limb because the fibers part and the bandage shears before that amount of tension can be applied.
    • Continue winding the Soffban until you have encased the limb. Tear off the Soffban and tuck the free end under the previous wrap to secure it.
    • If you do not have access to medical supplies like Soffban, you can use regular cotton wool to form a soft layer around the leg, or cut a T-shirt into strips and wrap them around your dog’s leg.


Applying the Splint

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    Cut off four to six pieces of zinc oxide tape. Each strip should be twice the diameter of the bone being splinted.
  2. 2

    Place the splint against the padding to support the injury. Make sure you line up the splint to properly fit the injured area.
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    Secure the splint in place with the zinc oxide tape by placing the strips one at each end of the splint and then throughout the splint. Wind the tape around the splint and Soffban, so the splint is secured firmly against the limb.

    • If you don’t have access to zinc oxide tape, improvise with what you have on hand. Zinc oxide tape is a fabric tape with adhesive, so you could use alternatives like sticky tape, duct tape, or even shoelaces tied around the splint and leg to secure it in place. The goal is to anchor the splint against the leg so it is comfortable for your dog.
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    Apply another layer of Soffban. Do this the same way you applied the initial layer of Soffban. Then, open the sterile packaging on the cotton bandage and wind a layer over the top of the Soffban, using the same technique.

    • Repeat this for approximately three layers.
    • Applying further layers of padding and bandage helps to hold the splint in place and further immobilizes any fractures.


Finishing the Splint

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    Apply a protective layer such as Co-flex to keep the bandage clean and rigid.Open the sterile wrapper and apply a layer of Co-flex using the same technique as you did for the Soffban.

    • Co-flex is stretchy so if it is applied in its stretched state, it will contract on the damaged limb and impair the limb’s blood circulation. Always release the tension on the roll as you bandage so the Co-flex is unstretched as you wrap it around your dog’s leg.
    • If you do not have access to Co-flex, don’t worry about this step. The bandage will be fine without an outer layer in the short term (about a day), while you take your dog to the vet. The outer layer will help to keep the inner layers clean, which becomes more of a priority if the dressing has to stay in place for several days.
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    Use Elastoplast to prevent the splint from sliding off. No matter how well you apply the splint, most limb dressings have a habit of sliding off. So to ensure this doesn’t happen, cut a length of adhesive dressing, such as Elastoplast, to secure the top of the dressing to the limb.

    • Cut a length of Elastoplast that is long enough to pass twice around the top of the dressing. Overlap the width so that half overlaps the dressing and the other half overlaps the fur on your dog’s leg. Then, wind the Elastoplast around like a garter.
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    Take your dog to the vet. Now that your pup’s damaged limb is supported in a splint, make your way to the vet.


How to Recognize Bloat in Dogs

Bloat is a serious, life-threatening condition. If your dog develops bloat, the sooner you seek urgent veterinary attention, the better his chances of recovery. If you are the least bit suspicious that your dog is developing symptoms of bloat, stay calm, phone your vet immediately, and bring your dog in as soon as possible.


Recognizing Symptoms of Bloat

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    Call your vet if your dog’s stomach looks swollen. Dog’s with bloat deteriorate alarmingly quickly. A dog that develops bloat at bedtime, if left untreated, will most likely pass away by the morning. Sometimes the deterioration is even more rapid, and the dog may pass away in less than 2 hours after first developing symptoms. Because of this, it is absolutely imperative that you call your vet immediately, as soon as you notice the following symptoms.[1]

    • The key symptoms are a distended abdomen and non-productive retching (vomiting without producing any vomit). These signs alone should trigger an emergency phone call to the vet. However, other signs can also occur, as discussed in the following steps.
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    Look for a swollen abdomen. The abdomen (or belly) is the area behind the rib cage that extends back towards the pelvis. The stomach sits within the dome of the diaphragm, but if filled with air, it extends backwards into the belly. A gas filled stomach gives the physical appearance of a swollen belly.[2]

    • In some large breeds (St Bernards, Great Danes) the swollen stomach can be difficult to spot because of room for expansion within the dome of the ribs, therefore, an absence of swelling does NOT rule out gastric dilation. However, a swollen tummy is a significant sign.
    • If in doubt as to whether the tummy is a normal size or not, take a photo of the dog from a sideways angle. Take another photo at 10 minute intervals for comparison. If subsequent photos show the body walls bowing outwards more than previously, this is significant and you should immediately contact the vet
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    Check for a tympanic abdomen. The swollen stomach is often full of gas or foam. When you place a hand on either side of the swelling and press gently, the area feels hard and not compressible.[3]

    • If you gently flick at the swollen area with a finger (like flicking a drum skin) you may get the impression of a drum like noise due to the trapped air inside the stretched stomach.
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    Monitor any drooling saliva. When the stomach flips over it is effectively sealed off. Gastric contents cannot escape; this also means that saliva, food, and water cannot get into the stomach. Thus your dog may drool saliva because he cannot swallow it down.
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    Keep track of non-productive retching or vomiting. The distension triggers receptors in the stomach wall that tells your dog to vomit in order to empty his stomach. However, the twisted stomach is sealed off and although the dog retches or attempts to vomit, he brings nothing up other than drooled saliva.

    • This is a serious sign and if present, contact the vet immediately.
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    Look to see if your dog has a hunched back. As the stomach swells it presses forward on the diaphragm and displaces other abdominal organs backwards. This causes abdominal discomfort which may cause the dog to stand in a hunched position with his back arched.

    • This is a general sign of abdominal discomfort, rather than specific to GDV, but if seen in conjunction with other symptoms, it should raise concern.
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    Watch to see if your dog appears restless. A dog with a dilated stomach feels uncomfortable and nauseous. This makes it difficult for him to get comfortable and he will pace and be restless.

    • Some dogs repeatedly turn and look at their flanks, whilst others may even try to kick their belly with a back leg.
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    Look for signs of pain. GDV causes distension of the stomach and is a painful condition. Dogs differ in how they show pain but typical signs include:

    • Vocalisation (whining, groaning, or crying)
    • Dilated pupils
    • A worried expression
    • Changes in behavior such as increased aggression
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    Call your vet if you see signs of shock. As the toxins build up, your dog may start to go into shock. This manifests itself as a weak pulse (the femoral pulse is located on the inner thigh, running parallel with the thigh bone.) A weak pulse can be difficult to detect because of low blood pressure within the vein and is easily lost when pressure is applied with a finger.

    • The heart rate starts to race and is above normal (greater than 100 beats per minute for a large breed dog, above 140 beats per minute for a regular or small dog).
    • The dog’s gums will also be pale (normal color is pink, much like our own gums). If you press a fingertip on the gum and then release, it takes longer than 2 seconds for the color to return (a sign of circulatory collapse)
    • The dog may also have distressed or laboured breathing. He breathes more quickly (normal is below 35 to 40 breaths per minute) and takes shallower breaths than usual.
  10. 10

    Recognize collapse. Untreated, your dog may deteriorate, find it difficult to walk, and slump to the ground. As his abdomen becomes increasingly swollen, blood return to the heart is impaired by pressure from the stomach (which compresses the aorta and vena cava, much like putting your foot on a hosepipe) and the dog goes into circulatory collapse.


Seeking Medical Help

  1. 1

    Bring your dog to the vet as soon as you see these symptoms. Remember, bloat is a life-threatening condition and not amenable to first aid at home. It is essential to seek immediate veterinary assistance.[4]

    • Even if you have financial constraints and cannot afford surgery, the humane option is to contact a veterinarian to euthanize your dog to prevent unnecessary suffering. While this can be a hard decision to make, it will ultimately save your dog from a lot of pain.
  2. 2

    Be aware of what the vet will do. Veterinary treatment includes aggressive intravenous fluid therapy to support the circulation and dilute systemic toxins. Once your dog is stable, the vet will give him general anesthesia and laparotomy; the stomach is repositioned and an incision made to release the gas.

    • The stomach is then rinsed out, any portions of dead stomach wall resected, and the stomach sutured to the body wall to prevent future episodes of torsion.
  3. 3

    Comfort your dog if you cannot get to a vet. If you are not within traveling distance of a veterinarian then try to comfort your dog. Speak to him calmly to reassure him. In the early stages of bloat try gently walking him, to help relieve stomach cramps. Stay by him and keep him calm. Try to find a vet who will come to where you are if you cannot transport your dog to a vet.[5]

    • Medication or pain relief is of no benefit because it cannot pass the twist in his gullet to enter the stomach and be absorbed.


Understanding Bloat

  1. 1

    Familiarize yourself with the concept of bloat. Bloat refers to the stomach filling with gas and becoming distended. The dilated stomach then flips over on itself, sealing off the esophageal sphincter (the entrance to the stomach) and the pylorus (exit). Gas producing bacteria trapped in the stomach continue to ferment and produce more gas, distending the stomach still further.

    • This outward pressure prevents blood flow to the stomach wall, and without an adequate blood supply this tissue dies off. Toxins are then absorbed into the bloodstream and a combination of toxicity, shock, and circulatory failure will kill a dog who has not been taken into the vet.
    • Most dogs become seriously ill within 4 to 6 hours, but death can happen in as little as 2 hours after occurrence, which again makes it very necessary to bring your dog to the vet.
    • Bloat is more correctly known as gastric dilation and volvulus (GDV) which is a term that describes the stomach distension followed by twisting.
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    Consider the risk factors that can make your dog more likely to get bloat.Because of their anatomy, some dog breeds are at higher risk of acquiring bloat than others. Typically, deep-chested breeds are at greater risk, such as the German Shepherd dog, Dobermans, Great Danes, Irish and Gordon Setters, weimaraners, and Greyhounds.[6]

    • This is because these breeds have a narrow abdomen and deep chest, such that the stomach is suspended inside the abdomen like a hammock slung between trees. This gives the stomach more range of movement within the tummy, and predisposes it to flipping over on itself, especially if the dog is exercised with food in his stomach.
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    Know when bloat occurs. It is normal for small volumes of gas to develop during digestion (hence the reason we burp!) Certain foods, such as those with a high cereal or pulse content, produce more gas than others (just think of baked beans!)

    • Thus, as a result of gas produced during digestion bloat is more likely to happen within 90 minutes of feeding. If that dog then rolls over, or goes for a run, the weight of food is more likely to make the stomach swing from side to side and if it gains enough momentum, possibly flip over.
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    Look out for the key danger period. The key danger period is within two hours of feeding. Any deep-chested breed predisposed to bloat should be never be exercised within 90 to 120 minutes of eating.[7]


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