First Aid for the Active Dog
In this concise dog first aid manual, veterinarian Sid Gustafson shares his healing art with all those who treasure their dog’s health, healing, safety, and welfare. Dr Gustafson’s guidelines for the resolution of illness and injuries have saved countless lives. Learn the techniques and knowledge to evaluate the seriousness of your dog's illness or injury, and to properly manage and care for the illness or injury until you can see your veterinarian.
Outdoor recreation with dogs involves certain dangers and risks. To enjoy a safe outdoor experience with your dogs, please read this book before heading into the backcountry.
If you suspect your dog has been injured or is sick, but do not know where or what is wrong—or how serious the problem is—stop, compose yourself, leash and hold your faithful friend and begin a systematic and thorough examination.
The mouth of your dog should feel wet and warm, rather than sticky or cold. Lift her upper lip to check the gums for color. Pink is good; pink is normal; pink indicates adequate breathing and oxygenation. After you feel and observe the gums, systematically feel your dog everywhere. A good canine field medical responder is a thorough responder. Compare the injured limb or part with the normal limb.
Attempt to locate the specific area of pain, injury, or discomfort. While feeling and bending the limbs, note if your dog winces, whines, or pulls away or is reluctant to allow a certain area of his body to be examined. Watch for any misshapen or unsymmetrical appearances. Take note of the presence of hair loss or blood, and try to determine its source. Once again, compare the injured body part (eye, ear, ribs, limb, footpad, etc.) to the opposite, normal body part, or to the corresponding anatomy of another dog. Spending five or ten minutes examining the normal body part will not only help you understand the extent and severity of the injured part, but will help reassure your dog of your healing intentions. Significant dog-han¬dling finesse and patience are required to effectively implement field medicine.
Vital signs are the measurements of essential phys¬iologic functions—temperature, pulse, and respiration (TPR)—as well as gum color and capillary refill. Pink gums reflect nor¬mal circulation, respiration, and heart function. Pale, white, purple, or muddy gums indicate significant injury or illness. The vital signs measured and compared sequentially over time reflect the seriousness of injury or illness and help determine how you should address the problem at hand before seeking professional care. Heartbeats per minute, breaths per minute, tempera¬ture, and gum appearance vary with your pet's breed, age, conditioning, size, diet, and state of activity. In order for you to correctly assess your dog's condition in an emergency, it is important that you are familiar with these normal vital signs before an injury or illness occurs. Write the normal values in the back cover of this book. It is essential to record and track the progression of the vital signs during an emergency. If this is done, you will always know whether the problem is getting better or worse, which is critical. The effective application of field medicine is dependent on accurate assessment.
Average Rates at Rest
Respiration—15 to 30 breaths per minute. If the dog is not panting, observe the chest rise and fall (one full breath). Count the breaths per minute. Panting due to heat and exercise skews the respirato¬ry rate. Since dogs sweat only at the margins of their footpads, they pant to dissipate heat and cool them¬selves. Respiratory function is difficult to determine in a panting dog.