A guide to basic first aid for your dog


19 January 2015

Learning basic first aid for your dog could ensure they never suffer needlessly and even save their life in an emergency. The essentials all dog owners should learn are highlighted below but you should also give your pup the best protection by investing in insurance for dogs.

Insurance policies can cover the cost of expensive veterinary bills and medical treatment that may be required if your dog is injured or ill. They provide great peace of mind and can cost just a few pounds a month to set up – meaning your dog will never have to wait for treatment or suffer needlessly.

Road accidents

If your dog is involved in a road accident then you should approach them slowly, avoiding sudden movement and talking to them gently. Attach a lead if possible, and a muzzle if necessary, before handling them.

If they are able to walk, take them to the vet – even if they don't seem to be in pain, there may be internal injuries that need to be investigated.

If they can't walk, you'll have to pick them up. For small dogs, place one hand at the front of the chest and one under the hindquarters. For large dogs, use a blanket or anything else you have to improvise a stretcher (something rigid is best in the event of spinal injury).

Cover your dog with a blanket to keep them warm and get them to a vet as soon as possible. Some veterinary surgeries may even offer a callout service which may be worth using.

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For a dog that shows signs of poisoning it is vital that you act quickly. If you can, find the packaging of whatever substance you think your dog has swallowed and have it to hand when you phone the vet.

Maybe you suspect they have been chewing a plant? If so, try to identify it and call the vet as soon as possible with as much information as possible and follow their advice. Do not attempt to make your dog sick unless instructed to.

Ball stuck in throat

Dogs love to play – but what if playtime takes a nasty turn and they get a ball stuck in their throat? Get your dog to the vet straight away, unless you are able to remove the ball by pushing on the throat from the outside.

If their gums or tongue are turning blue or they have collapsed, get someone to hold their mouth open while you reach inside. If this doesn't work, lay them on their side and push down sharply on their tummy, just behind the last rib.

Eye injuries

Eye injuries are fairly common in dogs and may be caused by a number of different actions. If you can see the eye is bulging out of the socket then apply a wet dressing and try to stop your dog from rubbing or scratching the area while calling the vet.

In the case of chemicals getting into the eye, flush with water before calling the vet immediately.


Insects are not always friendly to animals and if your dog has been stung then you should find the sting and remove it before bathing the affected area with water or a solution of bicarbonate of soda. Ice may help to soothe the pain too but if the sting is in the mouth or throat area then a vet should be contacted as it may affect breathing.

Canine first aid box

It's also advisable to make sure you're equipped with a basic first aid kit to look after your pooch. Essential items to include are:

  • Bandages
  • Non-adhesive absorbent dressings
  • Surgical sticky tape
  • Cotton wool
  • Sterile absorbent gauze
  • Blunt ended scissors, preferably curved
  • Thick towel
  • Elizabethan collar