First aid is an incredibly important subject to have knowledge of, and this applies just as strongly to dog first aid. Knowing what to do in an emergency, how to manage a situation and ensure that the dogs and people involved stay safe is an essential skill. Identifying what injuries an injured dog may have and how to get them to the help they need in the best and most efficient way can save a lot of pain or even their lives.
A knowledge of dog first aid is particularly important, because often we can be out with our dogs enjoying wonderful walks in nature and, if anything happens, we may be far away from professional help. This means it is up to us to assess what has happened, how bad any injuries or health problems that have become apparent are, and the best way to help the dog until we can get them to a veterinary surgeon for full assessment and treatment.
The important things we must know to have an effective grasp of dog first aid is how to check a dog’s heart rate and breathing rate, and what the normal numbers for both those things should be for the dog’s size and age. Each of these factors will give a range within which will be the normal reading for that dog. For our own dogs, it is very useful to have a good idea of where they usually are within that range, so we can judge their state of health better in an emergency. Knowing how to take the dog’s temperature and what a normal temperature should be is also important, as a temperature change can potentially mark a serious problem that needs veterinary examination as soon as possible.
A good dog first aid course will teach how to do these things and how to deal with a range of situations, from bandaging limbs to what to do if a dog is hit by a car, falls a distance or many other scenarios. What it will also teach is how to help the dog while keeping ourselves safe. Pain and fear can cause a normally placid and friendly dog to be scared and potentially aggressive, which means knowing how to fashion and apply a temporary muzzle is a must. Knowing how to assess the environment safely if a dog gets an electric shock is also vital. Trying to help the dog only to be injured in the process does nothing to improve the situation and in fact makes it much worse.
Along with a knowledge of dog first aid, everyone who spends their time around dogs, whether walking their own or dogs belonging to other people, should have a first aid kit somewhere close to hand. A good first aid course will offer guidance as to what should be contained in a dog first aid kit and how to use those contents, should they be required. While we always hope that our dogs will never need them, it is always safest to be prepared.