A puppy will try anything. He pokes his nose and his paws into everything from paint to pesticides. He chews and swallows whatever he can get into his mouth. He runs headlong and unheeding to greet you, even if you're across the street. He thinks the world is his oyster, he's raring' to go, he's a daredevil. And sometimes he gets into trouble.
You'll have to watch him carefully until he picks up a little common dog sense. You should also know the fundamentals of first aid so that you can soothe the big and little hurts of puppyhood. In extreme cases, first aid might even save your pup's life.
First Aid for Puppies:
In serious accidents the basic rules of first aid for humans apply to dogs, too:
- Stay Calm to help the dog stay calm.
- Do not move the injured victim.
- Stop excessive bleeding immediately.
- Keep him warm and quiet in case of shock.
- Do not give liquids, in case of internal injuries.
A puppy in pain may panic and have to be restrained from biting while you treat his injury. If there's no one around to help, muzzle him with a mouth tie. To do this, take a strip of cloth (or a necktie, stocking, whatever is handy) and loop it over his nose, making sure the nostrils are free. Tie it under his chin, then run the ends under his ears and tie them behind his head. Make sure the tie doesn't obstruct his breathing and remove it immediately if he seems to be gagging or trying to vomit.
This is a critical condition that results, usually, from very serious injuries, but in rare cases even from extreme fright. The symptoms are a cold body, feeble pulse, shallow breathing, and prostration. There's no time for delay; shock is extremely dangerous. Cover your pet with blankets and put a hot water bottle or a heating pad next to him to raise his body temperature. Keep him very quiet and call the doctor at once. Try reviving him with a sniff of aromatic spirits, if available. Do not force liquids; there may be internal injuries.
Shallow bleeding is not serious. Profuse bleeding may mean a punctured artery and must be stopped.
The quickest and by far the most effective method is simply to apply pressure directly to the wound and hold firmly until help arrives. The tourniquet is also effective, assuming that the injury is in a location where this is practical. Just be sure to apply the tourniquet above the wound and toward the heart, and remember to loosen it every ten minutes or so for circulation.
If your dog seems to have stopped breathing but you can feel a heartbeat (a condition that might be brought on by electric shock or by suffocation, for example), try to revive him with artificial respiration.
Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, applied by cupping the hands and breathing directly into the dog's mouth and nose, is the most effective (but also most difficult to apply).
The other method is to place the puppy on his side, head and neck extended and his tongue pulled forward. Press firmly on his ribs, behind the shoulder blade, to force air out of the lungs. Relax immediately, count to five, and then press again. Repeat these movements, smoothly and rhythmically, until the dog begins to breathe. When he revives, treat him for a shock.
The Symptoms of broken bones or dislocations are clear; you'll know simply by the way puppy walks or holds his damaged limb.
Fractures call for professional care, of course, but be sure to keep him very quiet to prevent further injury until you can get him to the doctor. If he's too big and active to restrain, you may have to immobilize the area with a temporary splint firmly bandaged to the limb, but not so tight as to impair circulation.
Pain, drooling, trembling, vomiting, panting and convulsions are all possible signs of poisoning. They are also symptoms of many other canine maladies, but in the case of poison are apt to be more severe. It is important to act quickly; any delay can be fatal.
First, immediately give the puppy an emetic (A medicine that induces nausea and vomiting) of equal parts hydrogen peroxide (medicinal, not hair bleach) and warm water. A tablespoon of mustard powder mixed with water, or a strong salt water (2 teaspoons to a cup) are also effective emetics. Follow this with an antidote of activated charcoal, 3 tablespoons mixed in a cup of warm water. If this is not available, give him a mixture of egg white and milk. Call your veterinarian immediately; poisons can take effect very rapidly.
Heat Burns: Apply medicine from an aerosol spray or use tannic acid jelly or concentrated cool tea.
Chemical Burns: Wash wound with a solution of baking or washing soda, 1 Tbsp to a .5L of lukewarm water, then treat as heat burns.
Small superficial burns can be soothed by applying ice cubes or cool water, then burn ointment.
Bee or Wasp Stings:
Apply a cold compress to relieve pain, then cover with a pain-killing ointment, Colloidal Silver, or with a heavy paste of bicarbonate of soda or plain starch. Dogs sometimes go into shock as a result of bee or wasp stings. Follow the directions for shock treatment and call your veterinarian.
Foreign Objects Swallowed:
This is the kind of accident that puppies specialize in; they seem to learn about life by chewing a path through it. A young Basset hound named Annabelle had to go into surgery because of severe stomach pains and a tendency to rattle when she walked. It seems that Annabelle had swallowed six marbles, a half-dozen rocks, and two rubber balls. A six-month-old German Shepherd chose a diet even more bizarre. Her operation yielded 15 pins, a buckle, a ball, several strips of leather, and the tassel from a pin cushion.
Veterinarians' files are full of such abdominal inventories. The dog's stomach is a tough organ that can digest or pass on some incredible objects. But there are things that can do serious damage to a puppy's insides. Your best course is to make your house and yard as puppy-proof as possible by putting all swallow able objects out of reach.
Puppy will eventually outgrow his chewing habits. Until he does, confine him to one pup safe area when you're not around to keep an eye on him. Give him some tough playthings of his own, such as hard or simulated rubber toys, strips of rawhide, or even an old leather shoe (but lock your closet; he can't tell old from new). A shank or knucklebone will give him a good workout but take it away if it starts softening. Give him lots of companionships and play time; excessive chewing is sometimes a symptom of loneliness.
If in spite of all precautions, you see your pet gulping, gagging or pawing repeatedly at his muzzle, it is probably a sign that something is lodged in his mouth or throat. Force his mouth open by pressing the thumb and forefinger of one hand on both sides of his cheeks. Examine his mouth carefully to see if something is lodged in his throat or between his teeth and if it not too deeply embedded, pull it out with your fingers or long-nosed pliers. Caution is the rule here, however. If there is a danger of the object breaking or becoming even more deeply lodged, get professional help immediately.
When you know your pup has swallowed something that might cause trouble, you can force him to vomit by giving an emetic. This is effective only if given shortly after ingestion and should not be used if something sharp, like a needle, has made its way down. If a puppy shows continued signs of distress - pawing at his mouth, vomiting, a sore and distended stomach - get him to a veterinarian quickly.
Puppies sometimes chew far enough into electric light cords to suffer mouth burns or even shock. If this happens, do not touch your pet until you have pulled out the plug. Revive him with a whiff of ammonia, followed by strong coffee in water. If his mouth is burned, treat it with pouring a cool strong tea over it. Keep light cords unplugged when the puppy is alone in the house.
An extremely critical condition, because the dog may go into shock. Call your veterinarian at once, but until he arrives, cool puppy off as quickly as possible. Place him in a cool, shady spot and sponge him down gently with cold water. Use smelling salts, if they're handy, and when he revives give him n little black coffee. Keep him quiet and see that he gets lots of rest for the next few days. Ice packs and cold water enemas, often recommended for the older dog suffering from heatstroke, are not for puppies. Either treatment might bring on shock or a case of pneumonia in the young dog.
One of the most common causes of canine heat stroke and a tragically common cause of death is leaving dogs in closed cars during hot weather. The temperature inside a car can reach as high as 60 degrees C on a hot day. Anyone who leaves a puppy in a closed car is only asking for trouble, such as a few holes chewed in the upholstery. But if you must (and you're sure that puppy won't panic), lock the car and lower all the windows a few inches for ventilation, but not far enough for him to escape. Park in the shade, but remember that the sun shifts position, so don't be gone for longer than 15 minutes. Better leave a water bowl too, if it's a hot day. Dogs can't take much heat.
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Imad LB is the founder of Howpup.com.
36-year-old, entrepreneur, dog lover and passionate blogger. He loves to write about dog behavior, health issues, dog tips, and advice.