Procedures for Handling a Dog Emergency When Stuck at Home

Having a dog emergency while stuck at home can be scary, especially if you don't know what to do. Following these procedures should help in the event of an emergency while stuck at home.

Remain Calm

Keeping calm and composed is important. If your dog senses you are scared or anxious, he too could become upset and make the situation a lot worse. It is crucial to constantly reassure your dog and talk in a gentle voice to prevent him from further injuring himself. Also, by remaining calm, you will be able to think more clearly.

Check if Your Dog Is Responsive

The first thing you must always do is check if your dog is responsive. Call his name or gently clap your hands or tap his head. If he is responsive, he should at least clearly look at you. If he does not respond, immediately check his airway and breathing to make sure he has not been choking on something. If he is not breathing, you will have to perform CPR on your dog.

Assess the Environment

Is the environment around you safe, or does your dog need to immediately be transported? For example, suppose your dog has been hit by a car on a busy intersection or road outside your house. You should not move your dog unless it is absolutely necessary for his sake. If the dog must be moved, he should be carried to prevent further harm. If your dog appears to have a spinal cord injury or any fractures, he should be secured to a sturdy board before being moved to prevent further injury.

Make a Mental List and Rank Problems

The next step is to make a mental list of the most severe problems and rank them. This needs to be carried out before you administer any first aid, because what appears to be the most important may not actually be that crucial to your dog's life. Once you can figure out what you are dealing with, you can do a much more efficient job. The following three items are the most important to assess after you have checked if your dog is responsive and you have gotten him out of harm's way if need be.

Check the Respiration Rate

If your dog is responsive, you will need to check his respiration rate. This can be done by placing a hand on his chest or before his nose and counting the number of breaths he takes in a minute. A normal resting respiration rate is 10-30 breaths a minute. Anything less than that could be a result of shock or poisoning. Anything more could be due to early stages of excessive heat or severe pain.

Check the Pulse

Next, you will need to check his pulse by placing fingers inside of his thigh, on his femoral artery, near the groin or an inch to three inches below his elbow. Count the pulse for 15 seconds, then multiply this number by 4 to get his beats per minute. A normal pulse is between 60-120 beats per minute. Less than 60 could indicate shock. Greater than 120 could be due to electric shock, heart failure, poisoning or a snake bite.

Check the Circulation

Check the color of your dog's gums. Normally, they should be pink. If they are white, your dog may be either anemic or in shock. Blue also indicates severe shock, heart failure or poisoning. Red can mean abdominal internal injury, carbon monoxide poisoning or severe heart or lung failure. Yellow can mean liver failure. After checking the color, check how long it takes the blood vessels under your dog's gums to refill after gently pressing your finger against them. Normal "capillary refill time" is under 2 seconds. If your dog's takes longer, he has poor circulation.

If Any of the Signs Above Are Present

If any of the signs above are present, this means your dog is in a serious life or death emergency. You really should seek emergency vet care, immediately. Find a 24 hour clinic via the web or phone book, call your vet, or find someone who can drive you to the clinic.