Basic First Aid Every Dog Owner Needs to Know

Like children, our dogs tend to get hurt every now and again too. The important question to ask yourself is, "Do I know the basic steps to take in the event of an accident?" Many people do not even know that first aid for dogs exists. Having knowledge of simple dog first aid techniques could mean life or death for your best friend given the circumstances.

Having a pet first aid kit and basic dog first aid knowledge is essential for every dog owner.

Dog First Aid Kit Supplies

Every dog owner should have a dog first aid kit on hand at all times. The basic items the kit should contain are:


  • Absorbent gauze pads
  • Adhesive tape
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Blankets
  • Cotton balls
  • Gauze rolls
  • Hydrogen peroxide (to induce vomiting, but only when told to do so by a vet)
  • Ice pack
  • Disposable gloves
  • Blunt tip scissors
  • Sterile saline solution
  • Tweezers
  • Pillowcase
  • The following phone numbers: vet, the closest E.R. vet clinic and the ASPCA poison control center
  • Paperwork on your pet including vaccine dates, a current photo and other medical records
  • Leash
  • Muzzle or pieces of cloth that can be used to stop a dog from biting

Having this kit set up and ready to go is the first step in administering first aid to a dog in a time of emergency.

Depending on the emergency situation, there are different ways to handle an injured dog. Here are some basic pet first aid tips that can be rendered to a dog in need.

Accidental Poisoning

A dog could accidentally ingest a toxin that could poison them. In this instance, immediately call the ASPCA poison control center for specific information on what to do depending on the item ingested. Always have the container handy of what the dog ingested. There could be important information with regards to what the ingredients are that could make helping the dog easier when calling the poison control center.


Dogs can and will have seizures. In the case of a seizure, keep the dog away from any objects that could cause harm by falling on the dog. It is important to not try to restrain a dog having a seizure, so they could also easily bang into items that could cause harm to the dog. Keep track of how long the seizure lasts. Once the seizure has stopped, keep the dog as warm and quiet as possible and immediately call the vet.

External Bleeding

When a dog is bleeding, it is important to first locate the source of the bleeding. Once that is done, get a clean, thick gauze pad and place over the spot that is bleeding. Apply pressure until the blood starts clotting. This could take several minutes, so be patient. If the bleeding persists or is severe, a tourniquet may need to be applied to the area. Bleeding that does not stop could potentially kill a dog, so contact the vet right away if the bleeding does not stop or gets worse.



The first step when a dog is burned is to get a muzzle on the dog. This will not only protect the dog, but also the person tending to the dog. If the burn is due to a chemical, immediately place large amounts of water on the spot that is burned until it is flushed. If the burn is severe and not from a chemical, ice water needs to be applied quickly.



A dog that is choking is panicking and is likely to act differently than normal. This is very important to keep in mind. A choking dog is also much more likely to bite, so be prepared. Gently open the dog’s mouth and look for the object that the dog is choking on. If the object can be seen, try to remove it with tweezers. Do not push the object any further into the dog’s mouth than it already is. If the object cannot be quickly and easily removed, do not continue to try to remove it. Call the vet immediately. If the dog stops breathing while trying to remove the object, place both hands on the side of the dog’s rib cage and apply pressure quickly. This act is attempting to push air out the dog’s lungs and push the object out. Make sure the vet is called while this process is happening.


A dog that is not breathing will need CPR. Open the dog’s mouth and look for any object that may be stuck in their throat. If there are no objects, close the dog’s mouth and hold it closed. Place your mouth directly onto the dog’s nose and begin breathing into the nose until the dog’s chest expands. Continue this breathing technique every four or five seconds until the dog is breathing on their own. Make sure someone is calling the vet as soon as the dog is found not breathing.

There is some dog first aid that would need to be administered based on the season.


Heatstroke is a real possibility in hot weather. If a dog is suffering from heatstroke, immediately move them to a cool and shaded area. Get a cool wet rag and place it around the dog’s neck and head. Pour cool water from a hose or container directly over the dog and continually wipe the water off the dog as their body heat will warm the water. The dog needs to get to a vet quickly to ensure that they are recovered from heatstroke.

A dog is capable of suffering from hypothermia when faced with freezing temperatures or being submerged in water that is too cold. If a dog is suffering from this, immediately call the vet and get the dog covered by a warm blanket or any type of warm material. If possible, get a warm water bottle or heating pad and place it against the dog’s abdomen. If the dog is wet, continue to change out the blanket or material with warm and dry ones.

While you can never be prepared for every emergency that pops up with your dog, having a dog first aid kit dedicated to them and the basic knowledge of the most common dog first aid issues will help to keep a dog healthy through any medical emergency. There are many books written on dog first aid, and it is not a bad idea to pick one up and spend some time reading through to gain more knowledge. Helping to keep your dog looking and feeling their best has always been our goal at Pupaholic!