Approach to first aid

  • Danger – Is it safe for you or others to help?
  • Responsive – Do they respond to noise? Movement? Are they vocalising?
  • Airway – Are they chocking? Have they inhaled water or a toxin? Is there an obstruction or wound?
  • Breathing – Are they breathing? Fast/slow/deep/shallow
  • Circulation – Can you feel a heart beat or pulse? Is it fast, slow or weak? Mucous membrane colour.
CPR is not often successful but always worth a try
  1. Lay the dog on his/her side (ideally on their RHS) on a flat surface. You will need to stand or kneel beside the dog.
    For barrel-chested dogs like Bulldogs, it is also appropriate to place the dog on his/her back.
  2. Place one of your palms on the dog’s rib cage, over the heart region, and put your other palm on top of it.
  3. Without bending your elbows, press the rib cage down.
  4. Compress the chest one-third the width of the chest for a count of one, and then let go for a count of one.
    Compressions to the tune “Nelly the elephant” is a good pace to keep to.
  5. If you can provide artificial respiration, close the dog’s muzzle with your hand. Give two breaths into the nose for every 30 compressions. If possible, have another person give the two breaths so that you can continue to do compressions while they do the breathing. A new person should take over doing the compressions every 2 minutes or so to reduce the effect of fatigue.
  6. Continue performing CPR and rescue breaths until the dog begins to breathe and a heartbeat returns- no more than 20 minutes.
  7. Transport the dog to the nearest veterinarian as quickly as possible during or after CPR.
Vomiting and diarrhoea

Pets can catch gastroenteritis by coming in to contact with other infected pets. Often this isn’t anything to worry about and will clear up naturally within 48 hours on a bland diet such as chicken and rice. For young and old pets however, dehydration can become an issue that requires treatment. If your pet is bright and well in itself without any other health concerns but has a bout of gastroenteritis, we would advise small meals of chicken and rice little and often throughout the day. If there is no improvement within 48 hours or your pet becomes lethargic, we would advise making an appointment. If your pet is elderly, has health conditions or is very young we would advise calling the practice and seeking advice from one of our Registered Veterinary Nurses who will be able to triage your pet and advise if an appointment is required.

If your pet is vomiting or has diarrhoea and is known to have eaten a toxin or a foreign object (such as stones, bones and chew toys) it is important to call us straight away. If your pet is repeatedly vomiting and vomiting or passing blood an appointment should be made straight away.


Some small wounds or grazes can be managed at home without any veterinary attention. They can be washed with saline or clean warm water if they are slightly contaminated. It is important your pet does not lick the wound as it could cause infection or prevent the wound from healing. Please seek veterinary advice if you have any questions or concerns regarding the wound. If the wound is actively bleeding, apply and keep pressure on the wound (if safe to do so) while reassuring and keeping your pet calm. A tight bandage can be applied to the wound if safe to do so and medical attention from a veterinary surgeon should be sought straight away. You should avoid using a tourniquet.


Hypothermia is a decrease in body temperature. Signs of hypothermia can include shivering, lethargy, temperature <35°C in dogs and cats and being non-responsive to stimuli. Veterinary attention should be sought immediately to treat hypothermia. While transporting the pet to the surgery you can gradually start warming the pet up, making sure the animal is completely dry, heat pads can be use but make sure they are not in contact with the pets skin.

Hyperthermia/heat stroke

Avoidance is always the best treatment. Hyperthermia is a increased body temperature often caused by over exercising on a hot day or being left in a hot car. Signs of hyperthermia can include rapid panting, increased respiratory noises, distress, lethargic, staggering. Hyperthermia can progress quickly causing vomiting, shock and fitting. Hyperthermia can be fatal. Veterinary advice and treatment should be sought immediately.


Shock can happen following an injury or stressful event. Stress decreases blood pressure which can cause collapse, lethargy, rapid pulse and shallow breathing, blue tinged skin or mucous membranes. Shock can be a medical emergency so veterinary advice should be sought.


There can be multiple reasons for a pet having a seizure, they can be very distressing to watch and experience for an owner. DO NOT restrain your pet while they are seizing. Animals can become aggressive or out of character while having or after a seizure. Stop any stimulants such as noise (tv, radio, talking) and turn the lights off. If furniture or objects the animal may injure themselves on are close by you can remove those but only if safe to do so. Swallowing the tongue does not seem to be an issue in animals as it is with humans, do NOT put your hand in the mouth to try and take the tongue out as you will get bitten. You should not try and transport your pet while they are fitting. If it lasts longer than 3 minutes or another fit shortly after the first, this becomes more of an emergency as the animal will get very hot- You should contact the Veterinary practice immediately for further advice.


Bloat is an emergency that could need surgical treatment if it does not resolve. Bloat is more common in deep chested dogs such as Great Dane’s, Newfoundland’s and Labrador’s but can occur in other breeds too. Symptoms include a large, tense abdomen that is getting bigger and unproductive vomiting. Veterinary Advice should be sought immediately.

Urinary obstructions

If you notice your pet is struggling to pass urine they could have an infection, stones or complete obstruction. If they can pass urine, even in small amounts catching a sample for your vet to test can be very helpful in determining treatment. If they are unable to pass any urine but they are straining this is a medical emergency and can be very serious. If a male cat is struggling to pass urine this can be life threatening so veterinary attention is required urgently.


There are four types of burns seen in pets, chemical, hot, cold or electrical. Depending on the type of burn will depend on the treatment required. Veterinary advice should be sought so the correct treatment for your pet can be determined. They may require pain relief and treatment for shock.

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