First aid for dogs: Basic Guide in First Aid and Tips How To Help Your Dog

First aid for dogs

Nowadays dogs live longer than they used to. And there is a logical explanation for that – knowing the first aid for dogs.

People know more about dog’s health than ever.

Regular vaccinations have decreased the possibility of infectious diseases. Dog food is becoming more healthier and appropriate for dogs. And we, the owners, have a better understanding of what dogs actually need and our responsibilities towards them.

The main role in a dog’s life is the human, his attitude, and his commitment to raising a dog.

Most dog owners know where to go when they need a veterinarian.

But when a certain situation comes there’s usually anxiety and confusion on what to do. And there’s maybe not enough time before the situation is getting out of control.

So here is the first aid for dogs that every owner should know to save their best friend’s life.

happy and healthy dog
Photo by Chevanon Photography on

What is first aid for dogs?

How to help your dog?

The aim is to:

  • Save your dog’s life;
  • Prevent other injuries from happening;
  • Prevent further deterioration of health;
  • Decrease pain and agitation;
  • To promote recovery;
  • Get the dog to the veterinarian and do it in a way that does not harm the dog’s health.

The most important thing is to assess the situation.

Is the dog’s life is in danger? Are you in danger?

If you must, restrain the dog so he cannot hurt himself even more.

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What to start with?

First aid for dogs.

If an accident has happened – quickly examine your dog!

(it can help if you practice these things while the dog is healthy, and nothing has happened yet)

An examination can help you understand your dog’s condition and choose the correct first aid for the dog.

  1. Restraining the dog (better to learn it before something happens);
  2. Track your dog’s breathing;
  3. Track your dog’s heart rate;
  4. Look for signs of shock;

(if you do the examination as a training don’t forget to praise your dog for good behavior).

After you have mastered the dog’s examination, you have to know the basics of first aid for dogs.

  • Artificial respiration (mouth-to-mouth);
  • Chest compressions;
  • Taking care of wounds;
  • Putting on bandages, splints, and so on;
  • Lifting up an injured dog and transportation.

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veterinarian doing a dog check up

1. How do you physically restrain a dog? – first aid for dogs

Most of the injured dogs (animals in general) develop anxiety and stress, they get disoriented as well.

That’s why you have to be cautious because even calm and well-behaved dogs can get aggressive when they’re feeling a lot of pain.

  • If the dog is calm, you can examine it easily on your own, but if not get help and hold the dog like in the pictures;
how to restrain a big dog - first aid for dogs
How to hold a big dog
How to restrain a small dog - first aid for dogs
How to hold a small dog
  • If the dog is scared or the injury hurts a lot, you need to use a muzzle. It keeps both of you safe;

If you don’t have a muzzle at home you can create it out of a strap, a tie, belt, or any other cotton fabric.

how to make a muzzle at home

More about proper animal handling and restraint you can be read here.

puppy training

2. How to check dog’s breathing rate? – first aid for dogs

Normally dogs breathe around 10 to 30 times a minute.

Smaller dogs and puppies breathe quicker than big dogs. It depends on the breed, age, and size of the dog.

how to Check your dogs breathing?

All dogs breathe quicker after walks and playtime.

They breathe quicker to save themselves from overheating. They also breathe quicker if they feel pain.

(sometimes it seems that the dog has difficulties breathing, but in reality, it is some sort of sneezing ‘’on the inside’’. It can seem that your dog has asthma, but it’s in no way harmful to your dog’s health)

  • The best time to check your dog’s breathing is when he’s calm and relaxed. Count the times he breathes in the air during 1 minute (or 20 seconds and multiply the number by 3). Count the inhalation or the exhalation, not both together;
  • If your dog has fluffy fur or he has shallow breathing, you can hold your hand up to his nose or hold a paper to his nose and count times the paper moves in 1 minute;
  • Or you can hold your hand on your dog’s chest and count the times the thorax comes up.

Here you can read more about Home Breathing Rate Evaluation

3. How to check a dog’s heart rate? – first aid for dogs

Normal dog heart rate is around 60 to 160 times per minute.

The big and sports dogs have a lower heart rate than the smaller ones and puppies. Small dogs and puppies can have a heart rate up to 200 times per minute.

So, again it all depends on the breed, age, and size of the dog.

If they’re anxious or stressed the heart rate goes up quickly, it can also happen after a walk. The heart rate goes up when they feel pain, or they have a fever or shock, it can also go up when the dog is intoxicated, wounded, electrocuted, or having a heart attack.

The right heart rate has to be counted when the dog is calm and relaxed.

  • To count the heart rate, calmly put your hand on your dog’s chest, right under the dog’s left elbow. Count the heartbeats during 1 minute (it’s better to count the beat for 20 seconds and then multiply by 3)
first aid for dogs - count the heart rate

How to count the pulse for dog

  • To count the pulse, find the artery on your dog’s back leg. It’s on the inside of the leg and approximately where the leg connects to the body. And again, count the pulse in 1 minute.
  • 4. How can you tell if a dog is in shock?

    Signs of shock:

    • Pale or white gums;
    • Increased heart rate – more than 150 times per minute;
    • Rapid breathing.

    The first thing to do when looking for signs of shock is to check your dog’s breathing, heart rate, and your dog’s gums.

    What could cause shock?

    • Bleeding;
    • Heart attack;
    • Vomiting and/or diarrhea;
    • Intestinal intoxication;
    • Trauma.

    The state of shock must be rectified first and everything else can be dealt with later.

    (shock can lead to unconscious or even to death).

    How to deal with it? – first aid for dogs

    1. lay the dog on its side so that his head is straight;
    2. Using pillows or towels lift the back legs higher than the rest of the body;
    3. if the dog is bleeding then try to stop the bleeding by, first, cleaning the wound, if possible, then putting on a bandage or putting on a tourniquet if the bleeding is strong and life-threatening;
    4. If necessary, do the CPR;
    5. Keep the dog warm to protect him from hypothermia;
    6. Get your dog to the closest veterinary hospital as soon as possible.

    When your dog is in shock, don’t give him anything to eat or drink.

    If he’s conscious, don’t let him walk.

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    What could cause shock for dog?


    Keep your four-legged friends safe and healthy.

    Don’t let anything bad happen to them and keep them away from dangerous situations.

    It’s always better to be prepared and know what to do in these situations, so you can help your dog as much as possible and potentially save his life.

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