Dog Emergency Care

Many pet owners never expect to have to give their dog emergency care. To avoid chaos, it's best to know what to do and where to go for help. Because emergencies always seem to happen outside of normal business hours, you should have emergency supplies and emergency contact information readily available, so you can react quickly and potentially save your dog’s life.

Canine First Aid

Every dog owner should take a class in Emergency Canine First Aid. These classes are typically offered through the local community college, animal shelter or veterinary hospital. Instruction not only includes proper procedures for common emergency first aid techniques, but also includes details on how to create your own dog first aid kit. While first aid kits are available commercially, you can assemble your own kit with supplies available at your local pharmacy and around the house. A typical dog first aid kit includes:

  • Gauze sponges (50 – 4 inch by 4 inch)
  • Ace self-adhering athletic bandage (3” width)
  • Sterile non-adhering pads
  • Sterile stretch gauze bandage (3 inches by four yards)
  • Vet Rap bandage
  • Hypoallergenic cloth tape (1 inch by 10 yards)
  • Bandage scissors
  • Triple antibiotic ointment
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Petroleum jelly (Vaseline or similar)
  • Pepto Bismol tablets
  • Kaopectate tablets
  • Generic Benadryl capsules (25 mg tablets)
  • Hydrocortisone cream (1%)
  • Buffered aspirin
  • Custom splint materials

You may also include:

  • Blanket
  • Muzzle
  • Tweezers
  • Rectal thermometer
  • Ziplock bags
  • Paperwork to include health records, poison control 800 numbers, veterinary hospital phone number and clinic hours, emergency animal hospital phone number and hours.

Veterinary Clinics

Your first option during regular business hours is to go to your normal veterinarian. They are familiar with your dog and have his medical history readily available. They will also have access to any recent blood work that's been done, providing them a baseline to compare with any additional blood that has to be taken. If possible, call your vet before you leave home to head to the hospital. This will allow the staff to prepare for your arrival and have a treatment area already established, depending upon the urgency of the situation.

Emergency Veterinary Hospitals

Some cities have an emergency veterinary facility available to treat urgent or critical medical situations. If an emergency facility is not available in your area, ask your veterinarian if they have an emergency number or if they know of a local veterinary hospital that does. Keep their contact information and address on hand should they be required.

Call the emergency veterinary hospital before leaving home to inform them of the situation. Remain calm and provide them the information requested. As you head to their facility, they'll be preparing for any particular procedure they think will be required.

While no one ever wants to think about providing emergency first aid for their dog, it's best to be prepared for these kinds of situations, should they occur. Being prepared allows you to remain as calm as possible and provide the appropriate care necessary, whether it be at home or at an emergency or regular veterinary facility. Being prepared can help keep your dog healthy and avoid complications if an emergency comes up.