This gets a brief mention as it is a big topic but thankfully is rarely required. Pet owners should at least google a few youtubes on CPR,  taking note of techniques relating to YOUR size and shape of dog, as they are all different. Luckily CPR isn’t needed very often but it wouldn’t hurt to have a look. Bear in mind the success rate is low so get them to the vet ASAP as they have ET tubes, 100% oxygen and adrenaline to increase the odds. It should get you thinking about what’s normal and not. The ABC denotes Airway Breathing and Circulation. LOOK at the mouth, airway and gum colour  (which is normally pink unless pigmented), then watch the respiration rate and feel for a pulse inside the leg by the groin. If needed put your head to their chest and listen for the heart. Finally look at the eye for a dilated (huge) pupil and an eye that does not blink when you touch it directly. These are signs they have passed away.


Bandaging is very useful for many reasons. Firstly it stops life-threatening blood loss until you get to the vet. I was once presented with a dog cut across its arm (antebrachium). The owner was holding it but blood was still dripping through his fingers. I immediately put a bandage on then I could get the patient stable before surgery. His gum colour was white. The bandage squashed the vessels and slowed the blood loss. Secondly, it helps provide pain relief by covering a wound and making the patient more comfortable. Thirdly, a thick bandage with extra rigidity, ie wooden spoon or ruler, can provide support to broken bones and reduce the chances of bone ends lacerating more blood vessels and muscle. Fourthly, it keeps the wound clean and protects wounds from dogs tongues that are NOT good for wounds, unlike the myth says. How many times have a heard that it is! Saliva has enzymes to break down food. Those same enzymes break down healing tissue.

Essential to a bandage is a dressing (protection), padding (support and cushioning) and wrap (secures). A bandage without padding might be applied too tight and cause more damage, like a tourniquet on for too long. Ensure you bandage from toe to body to squeeze blood back to the heart, and always include toes if possible to prevent them swelling if bandages are a little tight. I have made up Pet First Aid Kits which you may have seen on sale at 2019 National dog show. These are little pouches ideal for car, boat, bach or home containing the above items in addition to a bottle of diluted antiseptic. It is designed so everything is READY to USE for those cuts and wounds at rivers and parks. In Picton we are close to the sea so clients are tempted to wash wounds in the seawater. I say there are more floaties in the sea, not to mention seawater is NOT the same strength as isotonic salt solution like saline.

Watch our youtube video Bandaging a foot ‘Blue’ on www.pethealthawareness.co.nz  (in dog care tips)  to see a special trick not to apply to tight. If you would like one of our kits ($24 + p) we could easily send one in the post, if there’s not at a show coming up. A reminder of the our website with youtubes is on the label of each kit.

Licking and sea water are NOT good for wounds.   ( maybe put this somewhere  in different colour as a key point) 

A towel for a stretcher.

We discovered this trick in the clinic and now use it every day to move anesthetized or deceased patients. Lay out a large towel or blanket and place the dog on it. Have one person hold each corner on the front and another on the back. The front person also uses a finger to holds the collar to keep the dog on the towel. The towel is more flexible than a solid stretcher and allows you to lift a dog without hurting a particular area. Do take care as injured dogs in car accidents etc can bite when in severe pain.

Crate training.

For most people that show dogs, this is usually a ‘given’ but many dog owners don’t teach this restraint which makes it really difficult when they have to stay at the vets or require cage rest after an accident or orthopedic procedure. Rest is an essential part of recuperation. If you are sending out information with your sold puppies please please please insist they teach crate training. It will pay off in the long run!

Bee Stings.

For most pets these just cause a little swelling and discomfort. The signs are typically sudden onset licking and screaming, unlike a grass seed or a fracture which cause similar signs. If you are lucky you can see a sting sack as I did on a patient last week. For those that simply react or develop welts you may want to talk to you vet about having some antihistamine tablets in your first aid kit. It wont do much for an anaphylactic reaction however.

Some dogs, like my dog HOLLY try to die due to an anaphylactic shock reaction. This has happened twice already with a few false alarms. These signs are severe with sudden onset weakness (almost unconscious) and pale coloured gums. This is an emergency. I have a more elaborate first aid kit for Holly including steriods, adrenaline and IV fluids. I guess she is lucky to have a mum that’s a vet!.


Hopefully many owners will be aware of their dogs activity and not allow them access to poisons. We frequently get rung by people in the Marlbourough Sounds and their dog has ingested rat bait at a bach. Although there is mention of home emetics like washing soda, hydrogen peroxide, mustard, and salt water these can be dangerous too and are not reliable for a serious poison. You are best to ring your vet. I had some doctors ring me one weekend with two dogs that had gotten into dark chocolate. They assumed they had had half each!. They had made them vomit but then wanted to know what to do. I recommended they came in. We made them vomit with a restricted drug, apomorphine, and you should have seen how much more came up. In fact, it was only one dog, that had got into the whole lot of chocolate. This meant they could focus on the culprit and moniter only him for further signs.

For a serious poison like metaldehyde or rat poison it is essential to seek immediate veterinary treatment, or at least advice. A delay by 2-4 hours can pass the time that emesis is effective and the outcome may be very different. Metaldehyde is a very fast and nasty poison, with no antidote (like most poisons) and requires very intensive 24/7 care to save them. It is better to spend $200-300 getting in quick with effective emetics than $1000-2000+ and fighting for its life.

Although not directly a poison, there are 2 other things that may result in vomiting, illness and unnecessary huge vet bills. All things PIG ie bacon, ham and pork, seems to be a frequent mention in cases of upset tummies causing vomiting and/or diarrhoea. FAT trimming to a fat dog can trigger pancreatitis requiring several days in hospital on IV fluids. Luckily the majority survive but some don’t. It is wise then to stick to dog food and avoid feeding human foods the dog is not used to. Watch out for scavenging dogs that get into rubbish (nicknamed garbage can gastritis!). We had a visiting retriever get into fat trimmings at a BBQ. He was very sick with pancreatitis and had to stay in the hospital on IV fluids. The owners went home to Christchurch and came back when he was well enough to be discharged. Our pets don’t always fall in line with our human plans and although I try to accommodate people, my best interest is with the patient.

Bone Stuck in teeth

A dog that paws at its mouth may have a bone stuck. It could be wedged on two teeth or sometimes even caught across the roof of the mouth between the two upper carnassial teeth. Make sure you open its mouth wide and have a good look. Most of the time sedation is required to settle the patient and maneuver the object out. Better still avoid bones!


Penis Stuck (Paraphimosis)

Gladly I don’t see many of these, possibly as most pets are castrated, but this can happen when dogs get sexually excited. The prepuce skin can get caught around the base of an engorging penis cutting off the blood supply.  This is an emergency.  Calming the patient is essential so the excitement reduces, then using coolish water and lubricants may help replace the penis back inside the skin.

So get yourself ready. A first aid kit for your dog can also be helpful for humans too but human kits don’t often provide the padding needed for pets. Think ahead about these COMMON ailments I see on a weekly basis. Pet health Awareness’s aim is to help pet owners take better care of their pets. Knowledge is the key and these basics will never change.  These are conditions I see repeated and it can be disheartening if a death could have been prevented.