dog-307003_640All dog owners should know how to act should an accident befall their pet, which is why this month we have focused on putting together the Pet Express Dog Owner's First Aid Guide. We've already touched on what to do in the immediate aftermath of an accident, and we've also covered how to treat a selection of common accidents and ailments – including open wounds, broken bones and burns – which we now intend to expand upon.

Poisoning

When it comes to animals, 'poisoning' covers common household poisons such as rodenticides, and also substances that are suitable for human consumption, but are malign and possibly deadly to animals. Chocolate is perhaps one of the most commonly known examples of this but there are others, which is why if your dog has ingested something poisonous, or is acting strangely and you suspect it's because of something it has swallowed or chewed on, you should find the packaging and have it with you when you phone the vet .

One of the most common urges you will have when you suspect your pet has eaten something harmful is to try and force it to regurgitate whatever it has swallowed. You should not attempt to do this – unless instructed to by your vet – as this could cause further issues, and it is ill-advised to put your hand or anything else down a dog's throat to make it gag.

Contaminated Coat

Should anything unknown, synthetic (such as paint), or knowingly harmful (tar, petrol) get onto your dog's coat or paws, the first thing you should ensure is that your dog does not lick it – as it may be toxic and then you may well be dealing with a 'Poisoning' situation. An Elizabethan collar (AKA 'the cone of shame') is ideally suited to preventing dogs from trying to lick themselves clean, so if you happen to have one now would be a good time to use it.

Removal of your dog's fur may be necessary, but you can first try to remove the substance by washing your dog with warm water and washing up liquid. If a large area of its coat is contaminated take your dog to see a vet immediately, and under no circumstances should you even consider using turpentine, paint thinner or other similar solutions to try and remove the contaminating substance.

Hyperthermia (Heat Stroke)

An especially worrisome issue for overweight dogs and short-nosed dogs like Boxers, Pugs and Bulldogs, hyperthemia is essentially the opposite of hypothermia, and occurs when the body's internal temperature is around 3°C higher than normal. Symptoms include heavy panting, lethargy, clumsiness and other signs of obvious physical distress.

Heat stroke will normally occur during especially hot weather or whilst playing or exercising, and the best thing you can do is to get your dog into a cool, shaded area and start to moisten its coat with lukewarm water. You may want to dowse your dog in a deluge of cold water, but this would be a very bad idea and completely ill-advised. Give your dog access to a small amount of water and contact your vet immediately.

Fits

Once again, fits are one of those issues that will prompt you to react in a certain way, but in which the opposite would in fact be more beneficial. If your dog is fitting, do not rush over to hold or comfort it, as this may provide additional stimulation that will only increase the fit's duration or severity.

The best thing you can do is remove as many potential stimuli as possible, so try to decrease the light and noise in the immediate area (which may simply mean turning off the lights and closing the door). Make sure the immediate area is free from hazards such as electrical cords, furniture corners, falling vases, etc. and call your vet immediately.

Drowning

The first rule of life-guarding is to never put yourself at risk by attempting a rescue, and that rule also applies here; so ensure that there are no immediate dangers around before going to your dog and bringing it back to land.

Next wipe away any seaweed or debris that could be covering its nose or mouth and hold the animal upside down from its hind legs until all water has drained out; do not shake it vigorously or otherwise. If breathing has ceased then do your best to resuscitate whilst a vet is contacted.

Please bear in mind that even should your dog seemingly recover, you must still visit your vet that same day, as there are complications that can arise in the aftermath of drowning; such as “secondary drowning”. Also known as 'dry drowning', secondary drowning occurs when small amounts of water remain in the lungs, which then goes on to cause other fluids to build up also, and essentially leads to a dry land-drowning.