Common Types of Dog Medical Emergencies

Does Your Dog Need First Aid?

dog at vet
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If your dog experiences a medical emergency, will you know what to look for? Take a few moments to learn about the common emergency medical situations that can affect dogs. After that, you can learn how to administer first aid to your dog.

Of course, you should always call your vet in the case of ANY potential emergency, but some incidents are worse than others. Here are some of the more common and serious types of emergencies you may encounter with your dog.

  • Trauma: Any type of injury or accident that happens to your dog is considered a trauma. Major types of trauma include being hit by a car, getting in a dog fight, falling from a height or experiencing any other traumatic event. Minor injuries are also considered traumas, such as cutting a paw on something sharp or tearing a toenail. Pets that have undergone traumas may experience shock, wounds, broken bones, head trauma, internal injuries and more. Shock is especially common in trauma victims.
  • Toxin exposure: There are a multitude of substances that can be toxic to dogs. Your dog may ingest something poisonous or simply come into contact with a dangerous chemical. Symptoms depend on the type of toxin and the type and amount of exposure.
  • Respiratory distress: A dog can develop breathing problems for a variety of reasons. Sometimes there is no known cause. In some cases, the pet is choking. If your dog is having trouble breathing or has stopped breathing, know this is one of the most serious of emergencies and it requires attention immediately. Signs of respiratory distress include increased respiratory effort (such as gasping for air or making gagging noises) and gums (and other mucus membranes) that are blue, purple or gray instead of pink.
  • Seizures: A seizure is the result of abnormal brain activity. Seizures can have a multitude of causes and various manifestations. However, they are always accompanied by altered or loss of consciousness. The most serious of seizures will be violent and long lasting.
  • Heat Stroke: When a dog overheats, heat stroke may occur. More serious than heat exhaustion, heat stroke can quickly leas to death, The most common signs of heat stroke include elevated body temperature (rectal temperature of 106°F or more is heat stroke, but anything over 104°F requires some kind of medical attention)
  • Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (commonly called bloat or GDV) is an emergency medical condition that occurs when the stomach expands and then rotates, trapping gas inside the stomach and cutting off blood supply to the stomach and spleen. Symptoms typically include a distended (bloated) abdomen, retching or heaving (unproductive), extreme lethargy, excessive salivation, heavy panting, restlessness or pacing and pale gums.

Now that you have learned to identify the more common dog medical emergencies, it is time to learn what to do about them. Familiarize yourself with some basic first aid for dogs and you might be able to save a dog's life someday.