Speaking from experience...

This page is a work in progress and will probably never be totally complete as information is always being aquired and experience is always teaching us something new! 
(temperature, vitals, gum color).
If you know what "normal" looks like, it will be easier to recognize abnormal. 

With the number of dogs we have ourselves, the number we have raised, boarded and been in close contact with through dog sports and our extended dog family, we have seen alot of things happen over the years.  This page is dedicated to recognizing symptoms and situations that may or may not require veterinary intervention as well as some tips and advice for home treatment.  This page is NOT meant to replace a Veterinarians advice.  Our Vet is our dog's lifeline and we are eternally grateful for her...but it is also nice to know WHEN we need to put in a call and when we can deal with things on our own. 

The first words of wisdom that I would like to share with everyone is that PREVENTION is always the best medicine!  Dogs are curious creatures that often don't give much thought to gulping up something that is not meant to be eaten or jumping/leaping before looking where they are going.  Taking this into consideration please be sure that you have done a good job of proofing your house and yard and keeping it clear of obvious toxins, foreign objects that dogs might chew, swallow, or impale themselves on and always provide your dogs with a solid basic obedience that can be used to gain control and keep a dog calmer and less likely to hurt themselves in the first place!


First things first...

Despite all of our efforts to keep our dogs safe and sound, accidents can and do happen.  The best thing you can do is be prepared.  A canine first aid kit can be put together easily and can save a lot of time in the case of an emergency.  One thing to keep in mind is the area in which you live.  Snake bites might be very uncommon and highly unlikely for someone that lives in the city but to a person living in the country or known snake territory it is a very real threat.  So keep that in mind as you are building your kit and add anything that you think will come in handy that isn't mentioned here.


The first thing you will need a sturdy container for you first aid kit contents.  Two really great ideas are to use a fishing tackle box or tool box.  Both of these offer ample space as well as a way to organize smaller items. 

Next you should have some emergency contact infomation inside. This information should include: 

- your name, address, phone number
 - name & phone number of someone to contact, in an emergency, who will take care of your dogs if you are incapacitated
 - your dog's names and any information about any medications they take, any allergies or significant medical conditions they have as well as their ages and weights in case medication is required
- name & phone number of your vet
- if traveling, the name, address and phone number of the closest vet and emergency vet as well as their hours of operation

The basic medicinal components of a good canine first aid kit should ALWAYS include: 

- Benadryl (1-2mg per lb, every 8 hrs) 
- aspirin (5 mg per lb every 12 hrs) 
- hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting (1-3 tsp every 10 min until dog vomits)
- Pepto Bismol (1 tsp per 5lb per 6 hours) 
- Kaopectate (1 ml per 1 lb per 2 hours) 
- Immodium ( 1 mg per 15 lbs 1-2 times daily)
- mineral oil as a laxative (5-30 ml per day..do not use long-term)
- Gas Ex
- Lasix (dosage needs to be based on individual dog weights and prescribed by your vet.  See the info on Water Intoxication below to know why this is an important thing to have on hand)

Items that come in handy in a first aid kit are: 
- Karo Syrup (lite corn syrup) for dogs who have a sudden drop in blood glucose
- cotton gauze bandage wrap — 1.5 inch width, 3 inch width 
- Vet Wrap — 2 inch width, and 4 inch width (4 inch is sold for horses)
- Ace bandage 
- first aid tape 
- cotton gauze pads 
- regular bandaids 
- cotton swabs or Q-tips 
- New Skin liquid bandage (useful for patching abrasions on pads) 
- iodine tablets (if you hike and camp in areas where the stream water may not be safe for consumption with out first treating with iodine or boiling) 
- oral syringes (for administering liquid oral medicines, getting ear drying solution into ears, etc...very useful!)
- needle & thread 
- safety pins in several sizes 
- razor blade (paper wrapped for protection) 
- matches 
- tweezers/tick remover 
- hemostat (useful for pulling ticks, thorns, large splinters, etc) 
 - small blunt end scissors 
- canine rectal thermometer (get one made specifically for dogs) 
- antibiotic ointment (such as Bacitracin, Betadine, or others)
- eye rinsing solution (simple mild eye wash) 
- small bottle of isopropyl alcohol (rubbing) 
- alcohol or antiseptic wipes (in small individual packets)
- small jar of Vaseline 
- specific medications YOUR dog may need (for allergies, seizures, etc.) 


What is an emergency...what is not?

Sometimes things appear to be far worse than they really are.  The most important thing YOU can do is STAY CALM.  Below is a list of common dog emergencies.  Some may be treatable at home and some require quick thinking and an even quicker trip to the closest veterinarian.

Poisoning: there are lots of toxins out there that your dog can get into.  Some will simply cause some stomach upset and your dog will be fine once it has passed through his system.  Others can quickly cause life threatning symptoms and require an emergency trip to the vet. 

 NOTE: If your pet ingests any type of natural, plant or chemical poison, call your veterinarian right away for advice. If you suspect your pet has had a particularly lethal amount, take him or her to the vet right away. 

Food items that can be toxic to dogs include: typically your dog must ingest large quantities of these item to become deathly ill, the amounts will vary depending on your own dog's size.  If you suspect your dog has ingested any of the the following items and symptoms of poisoning is occuring it is suggested that you induce vomiting and contact your veterinarian.

Chocolate: Chocolate contains a natural occurring stimulant called theobromine found in the cocoa bean plant Theobroma cocoa, the bean that makes chocolate. Theobromine is the poison as it affects the central nervous system, as well as the heart of the dog, throwing their system into panic which often manifests in the form of epileptic seizures.  Poison by chocolate can occur quickly if your dog had a large amount, but sometimes even small amounts will show signs of poisoning within a few short hours. Symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea, restlessness and hyperactivity, and he or she might even go to you for help and answers. Symptoms will progressively get worse from restlessness to arrhythmia and other muscle twitching. Frequent urination is common, a direct side affect of the toxin in chocolate.  Bakers Chocolate/Dark Chocolate and Truffles tend to be most dangerous.

Onions: these contain thiosulphate and poisoning occurs in the form of hemolytic anemia.Poisoned dogs will have symptoms of gastroenteritis which causes vomiting and diarrhea. Other signs will show in their urine as the red pigment of the blood cells will stain the urine. 
Grapes and Raisins: poisoning develops an acute renal kidney failure which leads to death. The first signs of poisoning occur with a few short hours of ingestions and are vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and dogs become lethargic and subdued. The more the toxins effect their kidneys, the less they produce urine at which point death follows shortly. 
Sugar free candy/gum: Xylitol is a common sugar substitute found in many sugar-free candies and gums. The sweetener is approved as safe for human consumption and may even have some health benefits. Unfortunately, even small amounts of Xylitol are toxic to dogs. Dogs that eat Xylitol can experience a drop in blood sugar as soon as 30 minutes or as long as 12 hours after ingestion. Symptoms may include lethargy, vomiting, difficulty walking, and seizures. Xylitol may also cause liver damage and internal bleeding. Xylitol ingestion can be fatal to pets who are not promptly treated. The symptoms and the speed that they occur can depend on how much is eaten, but even small amounts (1-3 sticks of gum) can be dangerous

Garlic: like onions this contains thiosulphate but fed in small amounts garlic can be good for your dog!

Mushrooms: The most common account of poisoning by mushroom is the Amanita phalloides and is extremely toxic. Symptoms include mild vomiting and diarrhea and can lead to more sever digestive problems, neurological disorders as well as liver disease. Common treatment for mushroom poisoning is to induce vomiting followed with activated charcoal.