If you are worried that your pet is injured or unwell, the most important thing you can do is contact your nearest vet - there are also many emergency vet hospitals that can give you advice over the phone 24 hours a day.
Because our pets can't talk, there is a good chance that the problem has been going on for a lot longer than we realise - so if your pet looks unwell, they most definitely are.
There are a few basic things you can look for at home:
- Observe your dog's behaviour and work out whether they are responding normally to you. Look at the colour of their gums - they should be pink like ours. Make sure your dog is breathing normally - if you are worried about this, keep your pet calm, cool and minimise stress.
- If a dog is involved in an accident or if they are seriously unwell, they may go into shock. Signs of shock include, weakness, pale gums, panting or shallow breathing, cold feet, collapse or even convulsions. If your dog is in shock, lie them on soft padded bedding and cover them with a blanket to keep them warm. Try to console your dog and keep them as calm as possible. Any sites of profuse bleeding should be covered with a clean towel and firm pressure applied (do not apply tourniquets). Avoid giving them food or water if they are in shock and never give them any form of human medication.
- Do not apply human antiseptics to your dog’s skin as they will lick it off, which can result in serious chemical burns in their mouth. A teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water can be used to gently clean superficial skin wounds.
- If your dog has a seizure, try stay as calm as possible and remove any dangerous obstacles from their way. Speak to them in a soft voice and do not put your hand near their mouth. If/when your dog stops fitting, they will be disorientated so be patient with them and provide constant reassurance. Some animals will seizure continuously and need emergency treatment to stop the fit. Regardless of the length of the seizure, a vet should be contacted for further advice.
- If your dog is choking, you may notice a retching/coughing sound, a blue discolouration of their gums or potentially collapse. Carefully open your pet's mouth and try to remove the object. If this causes your pet further distress, or if you feel unsafe reaching into their mouth, contact your vet for further advice.
- If you are concerned that your dog has been poisoned or has eaten something dangerous, take them to a vet immediately. Do not attempt to induce vomiting at home. The sooner they are treated, the better their chance of recovery.
- If your dog has collapsed and is unresponsive, feel for a heart beat over the left side of their chest and check if they are breathing. Lack of a heartbeat or breathing means that immediate CPR is required. Lie your dog right side down and start chest compressions as fast as you can by compressing the rib cage firmly over the heart with the palm of your hand - don’t stop! Hold their mouth shut and give one big breath through their nose every 10 -15 seconds (ideally a second person should be doing this).
- Always have the number of your nearest vet and emergency hospital handy so that you can call them if your dog becomes unwell. Dogs are an important part of our family and its hard to see them unwell – remember that the earlier you seek treatment, the better the chance they will recover.
About the Purina PetCare Advice Centre
The Purina PetCare Advice Centre brings together a team with in-depth knowledge, experience and special interests with the skills to advise about health and nutrition, behaviour, training, socialisation, as well as basic first aid for your cat or dog. Our team of dedicated pet lovers can also provide information about Purina products and services to help you give your pet the best possible care. If you've got a question about any aspect of pet care, then ask the Purina PetCare Advice team.