Dogs are not typically high-maintenance animals. They are typically rugged and self-assured. That said, they are susceptible to some injuries and you should be prepared for some basic first-aid.
Just as children, dogs have accidents and sometimes they need a little help with a ‘boo boo’ and you should know how to deal with some basic things and have what you need in the house. Nail bleeds are a common thing for dogs but it can make an owner become very frightened due to the amount of blood and that it won’t stop bleeding.
Nail bleeds are common when you are trimming their nails and you clip just a bit too low. I know, it’s upsetting to think you’ve hurt your dog. That said, it isn’t awful nor is it the end of the world. It stings like having a hangnail torn off.
The reason that it bleeds so profusely is that dogs have a small vein in their nails. As the nail grows longer, the vein grows out to bring blood supply to most of the nail. Usually, the vein is 1/8th to 1/4th of an inch from the tip of the nail. If your dog has clear nails, you can see the vein. Black nails are harder to determine and sometimes accidents happen.
Because it is a vein, it will bleed a lot when cut. It is made even worse by the fact that it is on the foot and is unable to clot on its own due to a location far below the heart height and banging from walking. How do you stop the blood? They will walk around and keep spreading it everywhere, making it seem even worse than it is.
The method to stop the bleeding is styptic powder. This can be purchased at any pet store and you should keep some in the house. Have it out next to you when you are working on their nails.
In an emergency, you can use flour or cornstarch to stop the bleeding. Bandaging a dog’s foot is very difficult and not necessary for a bleeding nail. The powder will help it clot. Keep their nails trimmed to avoid this issue in the future. As the nails are trimmed, the vein will actually recede. This prevents accidental cutting of the vein from normal play and activity.
That said, they do sometimes get a nail caught and tear it out completely. This will bleed profusely and is not a bleed you should attempt to stop because of the type of injury. Your veterinarian should be consulted. They may need to cauterize the vein to stop the bleeding if the injury is serious enough. This will prevent bleeding and infection.
When a nail is torn completely from the paw, it will be very sore and tender. They may lick at the wound excessively. If they won’t stop licking their paw, they may need to have a plastic cone, once referred to as an Elizabethan collar or e-collar. With the advent of the electronic training collars, they are typically just called cones now in order to avoid confusion.
Other Basic First Aid Situations
For allergic reactions, you should keep Benadryl tablets on hand. The liquid shouldn’t be used for dogs but the tablets are fine for them and will help with things such as bee stings, watery eyes, itching skin, sneezing, etc.
Dogs are nosy, they will stick their faces in places that can cause them issues. This is how they get stung by bees and bitten by snakes. In your area, if poisonous snakes are prevalent, consider getting vaccines made for snake bites. These can save lives. Ask your veterinarian for more information on the vaccines that are now available.
Keep gauze and sports tape that sticks to itself but not to skin on hand. This can easily be removed from the fur. Keep ear mite treatment and ear wash on hand. Make it a practice to clean your dog’s ears at least once every two weeks. This way you will know if there are infections starting, or ticks inside the ear.
Your dog should allow you to check them thoroughly for ticks, cuts, and abrasions. They should allow you to look in their mouth and in their ears. Start teaching them very early on to stay still for you and reward them with a treat.
Keep peroxide on hand for cleaning wounds. Having a hot spot ointment is a good idea as well. Dogs get hotspots when they lick excessively, typically from an allergic reaction. Hot spots are red, devoid of fur, and sometimes crusty and oozing. This is from chewing until they pull out all the fur and rupture the skin. Hot spots are warm to the touch and they hurt.
If a dog gets diarrhea or soft stool, having a can of pumpkin in the house to add to their food will help. Give them just a spoonful in their kibble to add some fiber. Fresh pumpkin is fine also and rice will do the same thing. Dogs can have some Pepto-Bismol if they have an upset stomach and diarrhea. Don’t use other things as not all are safe for dogs. If you have questions, call your vet. Do not give dogs Immodium or other over the counter medications without ensuring they are pet safe.
Not all human remedies are safe for dogs and it is important that you know which are which. If you ever have a doubt or hesitation, don’t give them anything and call your veterinarian’s office for advice from a vet tech.
Just having a few things in the house, like the styptic powder to stop nail bleeding, can put you at ease. It will also help to make your dog more comfortable in the event that they don’t feel well. Dramamine, for example, can be given to dogs to settle their stomach if they tend to get car sick.
Many people are turning to CBD oil for dogs to help with everything from stomach upset to cancer treatment support. Castor oil is another item that can help prevent flea and tick infestations and is also a good treatment for skin growths. Castor oil helps prevent itching and scratching of the skin when the underlying issue is fungal.
Dogs Are Exposed to a Lot
Dogs are low and in contact with the ground. This makes them susceptible to bites from small animals, snakes, and bugs.
Worms are also easily contracted from soil and feces of other dogs. Clean your back yard and regularly and this will help. You should also treat your dog each month with worming medications or as directed by packaging.
Brush your dog each week and check between their toes for splinters, ticks and other foreign objects. Inspect their ears well for smell and possible yeast infections, as well as ticks that love to hide in the ear canals of fogs.
Dogs can pull muscles, tear ligaments, break bones and do things that are only going to be resolved by seeking the help of your veterinarian. The desire here has been to help you have an idea of the things you can use at home for the little things that happen. Know when you are dealing with a serious issue, you should see a skilled veterinarian.
For example, it may be fine to see your dog limp and wait a day to see if it improves. Who hasn’t pulled a muscle and felt fine within a day or two? If it goes beyond that, or if it appears to get worse, it is time to call the vet and get an appointment to be seen and diagnosed.
You may consider getting a pet health insurance policy. Many companies now offer this insurance and if you are ever faced with a very serious injury that requires surgery, it may save your dog’s life to be insured. It isn’t very expensive and pays for some routine care as well.
Ligament damage that requires surgery or a broken leg can cost anywhere from $1200 and more. If it is an emergency in the middle of the night, you can expect to pay double the normal rates. Trust me, this is when the emergency will happen. Plan on it.
So the moral of the story is that you should be prepared. Have things on hand to stop bleeding, deal with rashes and allergic reactions, and know when to see the vet. Your dog depends on you as much as you depend on him to be your loyal companion.
Laura Barnes is a passionate blogger and animal rights activist. She is a pet lover, certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, pet nutritionist, and former veterinary technician. She continues her work while writing blogs for pet lovers around the globe.