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First Aid for Puppies 
by Mary M. Alward June 10, 2005

From simple conditions such as allergies and paw injuries to advanced measures like CPR, heatstroke and the Heimlich Maneuver, this articles tells you how to administer first aid to your puppy. Also included is how to take your puppy's pulse and other valuable information.

The first thing you need to know about your puppy and injuries is that when she is hurt, frightened or in pain, she might bite – and yes, she will bite you. Keep a muzzle on hand that can be easily slipped on if your puppy has an accident. Puppy’s teeth are sharp and can do a lot of damage if you’re handling a snarling, biting ball of fur.


Like humans, puppies can have allergic reactions and they can range from mild to severe. Some puppies have extreme reaction to bee stings, which can cause swelling. Determine your puppy’s body weight and give ½ mg. of Benedryl for each pound of weight to slow the reaction, and then get to your vets or an animal hospital immediately.

Allergic symptoms in puppies are much the same as they are in humans. Swollen face, watery eyes, itching, respiratory problems and excessive sneezing all tell you that your puppy is having a reaction. Don’t ignore the warning signs. Seek veterinarian assistance immediately.

Fractures and Broken Bones

If you believe that your puppy has fractured a leg, or if you know it is definitely broken, it needs immediate attention. Before taking your puppy to the animal hospital or vet’s, stabilize the injury. Wrap it is a thick bandage that’s well padded to prevent further damage. Make sure the bandage extends well above and below the injured area. If the leg is swelling rapidly and the bandage becomes too tight, loosen it a little. Once the bandage is properly adjusted, take your puppy to an animal hospital or to your vet immediately. Fractures and broken bones that are not properly cared for can leave permanent damage that will affect your puppy’s quality of life as she grows older.

Paw Injuries

Your puppy’s paw cannot be repaired with stitches or clamps. If she injures her paw, try bandaging it. This may not work, as canines of any age do not like their paws covered. Puppy may chew off the bandage despite your efforts to keep it on. If this is the case, use a liquid skin product to seal the injury, or even Super Glue®.

Hold the two edges of the injury together, being as gentle as possible, then apply the liquid skin or glue to hold the wound together. These products will wear off as the injury heals and your puppy becomes more active. If you cannot get the wound to hold together, take your puppy to the vet. Caution: Be very careful when applying Super Glue®, as it will bond anything and is very hard to remove.

Heat Stroke

If your puppy shows any sign of heat stroke, precautions must be taken immediately. These include rapid pulse, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, dry or red eyes, dry mouth or excessive panting. Cool the puppy at once. Immerse her in a bath tub of lukewarm water, or, if you’re not at home, find a pond, stream, lake or other body of water. If there isn’t one available, borrow someone’s hose or find another source of water to wet her down. The most important areas are the face, neck, chest and sides. Continue to wet your puppy or keep her immersed in water until her temperature has decreased to 103 º F. Administer a dose of infant electrolytes, which can be purchased over the counter at any pharmacy. When your puppy’s temperature has decreased, transport her to the nearest animal hospital or veterinarian clinic.

Taking Puppy’s Pulse

It’s sometimes difficult to find your puppy’s pulse. It can be located on the hind leg, below the groin on the femur. Place your fingertips gently against the bone and your will feel your puppy’s pulse.


If your puppy suddenly becomes a snappy, aggressive brute, it’s likely due to excessive stress. Other stress symptoms include, but are not limited to, loss of appetite, diarrhea, slow or no response to commands and signs of withdrawal or depression. Stress can be caused by boredom, lack of attention, lack of exercise, being over worked or over trained, crowds, extreme situations and unfamiliar environment. If you move, your puppy is apt to show signs of stress. To de-stress puppy, give her lots of attention, frequent exercise, mild socialization and a proper diet. If symptoms persist, take your puppy to the vet’s. If he can’t diagnose the problem, seek the services of a professional trainer.

Warning: Never leave your puppy unattended in a vehicle for any length of time during the summer months. The temperature inside a car escalates quickly and your puppy can literally be baked alive.

Advanced First Aid for Puppies

Though we do our best to keep our puppies safe, there are times when disaster strikes. If this happens to you, you need to be prepared in order to save your puppy’s life. It is imperative that you know exactly what to do in every given situation.

Puppy CPR

Calm you puppy as much as possible, lay him on his side and pull his tongue out of his mouth. Align his head and neck to open airways. Enfold your hand around his muzzle, gently closing his mouth. Place your mouth over his muzzle and give two full breaths of air. If the airway is clear, continue resuscitation at the rate of ten breaths per minute and transport your puppy to the nearest animal hospital or veterinary clinic.

If the air doesn’t flow easily into the airway, check the puppy’s mouth and throat for obstructions. Remove any foreign matter or objects and try the CPR again. If the air still isn’t reaching your puppy’s lungs, you have to attempt the Heimlich maneuver.

Heimlich Maneuver for Puppies

Make a fist with one hand and place it against your puppy’s stomach. Using both hands, lift your puppy’s back legs off the ground. Thrust upward rapidly three times. Lay your puppy on his side and attempt CPR. Transport your puppy to the nearest animal hospital or veterinary clinic.


If your puppy is small, sit on the floor and place the puppy on your knee so his stomach is against it. Place your hands on the puppy’s back and quickly push him against your knee in a thrusting motion. Be firm, yet gentle. If you are too rough, you can injure your puppy’s back stomach or ribs.

For puppies that are too large to place on your knee, stand over his back with one leg on each side. Lift his back legs off the ground, place your hand against his stomach and thrust upward. Repeat 5 times if necessary. If the object doesn’t dislodge, lay your puppy on his side and perform the Heimlich maneuver. If this doesn’t help, seek veterinary care immediately.


Never put antibiotics, antiseptics or cortisone on burns that are suffered by your puppy. Use cold water or ice to sooth the injury and take your puppy to the nearest animal hospital or veterinary clinic immediately.

Never treat burns at home. The risk of both internal and external infection is extremely high. Medical care is imperative for even the slightest burns.

Head Injury

If the head injury is slight, apply ice to prevent swelling and watch your puppy carefully for 24 hours. If he seems to suffer no adverse effects, veterinarian care is not essential.

If the injury is severe and your puppy loses consciousness, do not try to revive him. Place an ice pack on the injured area and take him to the nearest animal hospital or veterinary clinic.

Gunshot Wounds

If your puppy is accidentally or intentionally shot, do your best to stop the bleeding and take him to the closest animal hospital or veterinary clinic. Even small gunshot wounds can cause severe infections and it’s possible that there are internal injuries that can’t be seen.


Bloating can be instantaneous and fatal if not dealt with immediately. Bloat symptoms include, but are not limited to, excessive salivating, pacing, enlarged abdomen, dry heaves, excessive panting, loud stomach noises and pain. Puppies suffering from bloat will experience excruciating pain when they try to lie down. Your puppy may lick at his anus or scoot across the floor while yelping or howling. Immediate professional medical help is imperative.

Note: Bloating is most often caused by strenuous exercise immediately after eating. This causes the puppy’s stomach to flip and twist, closing the intestines.

Do not allow your puppy to participate in heavy exercise for at least an hour after he eats.

Vehicle Injuries

If your puppy is hit by a motor vehicle of any kind, muzzle him at once. He will be frightened, dazed and in pain and may think that your loving efforts to help him are going to cause him more pain, in which case he will bite anyone, including you, who tries to touch him. After the muzzle is securely in place, staunch bleeding, wrap him in a blanket and take him to the nearest animal hospital or veterinary clinic immediately.


Like humans, puppies can go into shock if they loose a large amount of blood, are seriously injured or suffer from heat stroke or hypothermia. Never medicate a puppy that is in shock. Symptoms may include shaking, trembling, whining, unconsciousness, white gums, respiratory problems or being cold to the touch. Immediate professional care is essential.


You puppy can be poisoned by ingesting toxic substances such as leaves of certain plants, snake bite, human medications, antifreeze, chocolate, products containing lye, cleaning products, excessive amounts of onions and garlic, detergents, insecticides, rodent poisons, raw bread dough, paintball pellets and bleach.

Symptoms of poisoning include, but are not limited to, depression, excessive vomiting, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, sudden blindness, excessive salivating, stumbling, muscular weakness, respiratory problems, partial paralysis, unconsciousness, anemia, and dehydration.

If you suspect your puppy make be suffering from a mild case of poisoning, call the ASPCA’s Poison Control Hotline for Animals at 1-888-426-4435. The hotline is always open and manned by certified veterinarians. For extreme cases of poisoning, get emergency medical help immediately.


If your puppy suffers a puncture wound of the abdomen or thorax, he needs immediate veterinary care.

Never remove an object that is protruding from your puppy. Staunch the bleeding by packing thick gauze pads around the object, trying not to move it. If the injury is causing air to escape from your puppy’s body, coat a gauze pad with Vaseline or Petroleum Jelly and place it over the wound to seal it. Transport your puppy to the closest animal hospital or veterinary clinic immediately.

Snake Bite

If you suspect or know that your puppy has been bitten by a snake, administer ½ mg. of Benedryl per pound of weight and seek immediate veterinary care.

Add to First Aid Kit

Keep a copy of these procedures in your puppy’s first aid kit, so you have immediate access proper procedures in every situation. Make a note of the nearest animal hospital or veterinary clinic, including phone numbers. Your puppy is a valued member of your family and he deserves the best possible care in emergency situations.


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