First Aid for Dogs

First Aid Kit

Keeping your dog safe from injury is one of the priorities of dog ownership. Despite all your precautions, sometimes the inevitable happens and your dog sustains an injury. Are you prepared to give him the best emergency assistance that you can? 



Dog owners should always keep basic emergency supplies on hand, including the following:

  • antibacterial ointment
  • aspirin
  • cotton balls
  • gauze pads and bandages
  • hydrogen peroxide (3 percent)
  • petroleum jelly
  • rubbing alcohol
  • scissors
  • tape
  • towel
  • tweezers

Having ready access to emergency supplies will help relieve the stress of a pet emergency. It is also important to keep calm. Animals easily pick up on our emotions, and by keeping calm, your dog will be more at ease as you apply treatment to him. Speak to your dog in a quiet, reassuring voice to let him know that everything’s okay. 

Be aware that in certain emergency situations, even the gentlest dog with no history of biting may resort to fear biting. For everyone’s safety, including the dog’s, it may be a good idea to muzzle him (with an actual muzzle, or fasten one out of material such as a necktie or a scarf) to prevent fear biting. 

Scratches & Cuts

Most active dogs will get their fair share of scratches and cuts, most of which can be taken care of quite easily. The first step is to thoroughly flush the area with water to make sure that the affected area is clean of dirt and debris. Then apply an antibiotic cream a few times a day (or according to the package’s directions) until the injury has healed. 

If the injury is accompanied by severe bleeding, your dog needs to see a veterinarian as soon as possible. In the meantime, minimize the flow of blood by pressing a thick gauze pad or towel against the wound until your dog can be seen by the veterinarian.

Wild Animal Encounters

Dogs are naturally curious when they meet up with another animal. They may bark at or try to chase an animal away. Dangerous wild animals such as bears and coyotes occasionally make appearances in areas populated by humans. However, the most likely wild creatures that a companion dog will encounter are rabbits, squirrels, or skunks. Usually, the most damage these encounters will pose is a few scratches or cuts, but if the attacking wild animal appears rabid, bring your dog to a veterinarian. An encounter between your dog and a skunk will not often end with battle scars but rather be a smelly affair with additional measures necessary. 

If your dog has been sprayed by a skunk, he’ll need a special bath to get rid of the scent. Ordinary shampoos are unlikely to be powerful enough to get rid of the smell. Instead, use a commercial anti-skunk remedy, available at most pet stores. Wet your dog down, rub the remedy on, and let it set in for a few minutes. Then rinse thoroughly.



Pet Health and Wellness