If your dog is injured it usually warrants a trip to the vet but some things look worse than they are. On the other hand, some things that don’t seem severe could cost your dog’s life if treatment isn’t given immediately. How do you know when your dog really needs help and when you can help him yourself? The following guidelines will help you decide what’s best for your beloved pet.
Many of us develop very close relationships with our pets and to see one limping, coughing, or lethargic is worrisome. Although we want to help our pets, and do what’s best for them, some things can be easily treated at home. A torn dew claw, for example, can look very serious. The dog is usually limping and may cry out in pain if anything touches the area. Instinctively you want to take him to have something done but you probably have what you need to treat him. Wrap the paw, across the dew claw, with clean gauze and first aid tape. Change the bandage at least twice each day, applying antibacterial ointment to the gauze before laying on the injured dew claw.
If your dog is limping, but you see no broken skin or bleeding, that doesn’t mean it’s no big deal. The dog could have cracked a bone. If the dog has been in your presence and you know there’s no way he’s broken a bone, try to get the dog to rest while you apply warm towels to the area. If the dog is still limping after a couple of days it’s time to take him to the vet. Older dogs often have joint ailments that will require regular medication for the rest of their lives.
There are some ailments and conditions that are emergencies and must be treated immediately. Difficulty breathing could indicate something caught in the windpipe, a stroke or a serious illness. If your dog has noisy respiration, discolored tongue or is gasping, take him immediately to the vet.
Heat stroke doesn’t happen to just people. If your dog has been hiking, running or doing activities in the hot sun make sure he has plenty of water and breaks from the activity. If you notice the dog is panting more than normal, for a long period of time, remove him from the heat and give him plenty of cool water. Do not add ice to the water or put the dog in cold water. You can, however, use wet compresses on the dog’s head and paws.
Heavy panting can indicate a heat stroke, in some cases. If the panting is accompanied by weakness it’s important to get the dog treatment right away. Loss of balance, tremors, staggering, or sudden changes in personality or disposition are warning signs that something serious is occurring.
Bleeding that won’t stop should be treated right away. Usually you can look at the wound and tell if it’s deep or just a scratch. Scratches can be treated by cleaning the would and applying antibiotic ointment to a piece of gauze before covering the wounded area with it. Change the bandage at least twice a day. Anything other than minor bleeding should be treated by a vet.
Bloated abdomen, severe diarrhea, inability to move bowels or urinate, or pain when rubbed on the abdomen are all signs that your dog should visit the vet immediately. How quickly you respond to your dog when he needs help can determine how he will recover from the emergency. But, paying expensive vet bills when you can treat the dog yourself is a wise move. Learn more about what you can treat at home and what constitutes an emergency by searching online for more tips and suggestions.