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Dogs + Emergency Situations

  • The sight of blood is frightening for many people, especially when an injured dog is bleeding. With quick first aid, the situation is not as scary. An injured pet is scared and in pain so be sure to take precautions to avoid being bitten. You may need to use a muzzle or have someone restrain your dog while you provide first aid. Keeping wounds covered with pressure to slow the bleeding is the first step. Minor injuries may be manageable at home, but larger wounds and internal bleeding require immediate veterinary care.

  • Broken nails are acute painful injuries that require first aid, and in some cases, a veterinary visit. Nails are made up of a collection of blood vessels and nerves covered by a hard protective layer of keratin. Bleeding should initially be controlled with pressure from gauze or a towel, followed by cauterizing powder if needed. Any remaining damaged part needs to be removed which usually requires veterinary care. Depending on the level of the break, your dog may need to be sedated and/or the area numbed with a nerve block prior to trimming the nail above the break. Depending on the severity, a bandage may be placed to protect the injury. Antibiotics and pain medications may be prescribed if indicated. Broken nails are best prevented by keeping all nails short through regular trimmings.

  • Emergencies arise unexpectedly and it is important to stay calm. After realizing what has occurred, it is important to contact your veterinarian in order to provide the best chance for a successful outcome. Basic first aid in the meantime can help reduce the chance for complications.

  • Dogs that fall from heights can suffer sprains, broken bones, head trauma, and chest or abdominal injuries. Toy breeds can sustain injuries from jumping off a couch or chair. If you see your dog fall, monitor him for at least 3-5 days for anything abnormal that may develop. Serious injuries need to be evaluated immediately by your veterinarian, but there are steps you can take at home to prepare your pet to be transported to your veterinary hospital.

  • Insect stings or bites can cause mild signs of swelling, pain, and itching or can be more severe causing hives, anaphylactic reactions, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, or seizures. If the sting or bite has been observed, look for the insect or spider to allow identification. Look for a stinger and carefully remove it without squeezing more venom out of the venom sac. Depending on the severity of the reaction, first aid including cool packing the area, dosing with oral antihistamine, and prevention of self-trauma may be all that is needed; however, in more severe cases emergency veterinary attention is required to stabilize the dog, screen for organ dysfunction, and provide supportive care.

  • Lameness occurs due to the injury or debilitation of one or more parts of the leg: bones, muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, or skin. Depending on the cause of the limp, immediate veterinary care may be needed. If your dog is in severe pain, carefully transport your dog to your veterinary hospital or emergency hospital immediately. For non-emergency limps, you may be able to determine the cause of the limp and provide home care. If the lameness persists for more than 24 hours, seek veterinary care. Medication or surgery may be necessary to help your dog heal and reduce pain.

  • Tail injuries are common and can sometimes be managed with home first aid but some cases require veterinary care. Abrasions are mild scrapes that can be treated with daily cleaning and application of antibiotic ointment. Lacerations are more serious cuts that may expose underlying muscle and bone requiring stitches and often antibiotics. Happy tail is a condition where the skin at the end of the tail becomes damaged and continues to split and bleed whenever the wagging tail hits a hard surface. Bandaging, antibiotics and pain medication may help these heal but amputation may become necessary to reduce re-injury. Tail fractures can heal well if they occur near the tip of the tail but if bones are severely damaged then amputation may be required. Nerve damage can occur from fractures, crushing injuries or severe tail pulls causing stretching or tearing of the nerves and can result in loss of fecal and urinary continence and can also result in a limp tail. Limber tail is a painful muscle condition likely caused by overexertion and treated with rest and anti-inflammatories.

  • If your dog limps, or licks at his pads, he may have a foot pad that is torn, punctured, or burned. Minor injuries may be treated at home, but deeper or complicated wounds require veterinary attention. Clean the wound and remove small debris if possible. If larger foreign or deeply seated objects are discovered, or if the wound is deep and does not stop bleeding after 10-15 minutes, seek immediate veterinary care. Control bleeding and apply gauze as a bandage, wrapping the affected paw including the ankle or wrist. Keep the wound clean and bandaged and if any changes are noticed, seek veterinary care. Avoid walks on hot sidewalks in the summer and protect your dog’s feet with boots during the winter. Try to avoid foot injuries in your dog by surveying the areas that your dog plays and walks.

  • Frostbite is the damage that is caused to the skin and other tissues due to extreme cold. The paws, ears, and tail are the most common tissues to be affected. Diagnosis is usually based on the dog's medical history and physical examination. If you suspect your dog has frostbite, you should seek medical attention immediately. Mild cases of frostbite usually resolve with little permanent damage, while more severe frostbite may result in permanent disfiguration or alteration of the affected tissues. In severe cases, some dogs require surgical removal of the necrotic tissue or amputation.

  • A gastropexy is a surgical procedure that is sometimes performed in large breed dogs to prevent gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), also known as bloat. A gastropexy may be performed prophylactically or may be done as part of the surgical management of GDV.

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