• Small Morkie dog wearing white nurse hat and red plastic stethoscope lies down on white background

Dog First Aid Facility: Wound Care, Emergencies + Building a Kit

Welcome to the place where we offer general info on canine first aid and putting together an essential first aid kit for your dog!

As a heads up, the information found here does not replace professional veterinary advice or consultation. It is simply an educational resource.

How to Treat a Minor Cut or Wound on Your Dog at Home

This is not for deep or serious wounds. It is not a substitute for professional veterinary care.

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    Stop the Bleeding

    Use a clean cloth or towel and apply pressure to the wound site for 3 minutes. After 3 minutes of constant pressure, check to see if it has stopped.

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    Clean the Wound

    Once bleeding has stopped, use clean water to rinse the wound of debris. A spray bottle and a mild soap can be useful here.

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    Remove Foreign Objects

    Use a pair of tweezers to remove things such as thorns, burrs, glass, rocks, etc. A magnifying glass or magnifier phone app can really help.

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    Disinfect the Wound

    Flush the wound again with water and a cleanser such as chlorhexidine. If not available, mild soap can be used, but it should be rinsed off.

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    Apply Lavengel®

    Gently apply a thin layer of Lavengel. It will help relieve irritation, protect the wound from microbes, and begin the healing process.

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    Bandage the Wound

    Use a bandage or wrap to prevent your dog from licking. Replace the bandage and reapply Lavengel every 24 hours until the wound is healed.

How to Treat a Minor Burn on Your Dog at Home

This is not for deep or extensive burns, nor is it a substitute for professional veterinary care.

Though they seem similar at the surface, burns are different from cuts and scrapes. They affect the body differently, and after a brief sterile period, they are very susceptible to infection. To learn more about burn wounds and what makes them unique, check out our Canine Burn Resource.

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    Rinse, Clean, and Dry

    Rinse the burn with cool water. Do not use alcohol or peroxide. Carefully remove any debris, rinse again, then gently pat dry with a clean towel.

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    Apply Lavengel + Bandage

    Gently apply Lavengel to the burn and cover with a clean bandage or wrap. For best results, apply some Lavengel to the bandage as well.

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    Monitor, Reapply, Re-bandage

    Check the wound every 12-24 hours for the first few days. Reapply Lavengel and a clean bandage at each "checkup" until the burn has healed.

What to Do in Certain Pet Emergencies

We understand that first aid isn't solely about treating wounds. Having some fundamental first aid knowledge and doing some basic prep work can make a life-saving difference in an emergency.

That said, first aid itself is not a substitute for veterinary care; it is often a necessary step or stopgap until you can get your pet to the hospital.

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If your pet is poisoned

Household Products Toxic to Pets

Generally speaking, products that are toxic for people are also toxic for pets. Some of these may include:

  • Cleaning products
  • Certain cosmetics
  • Over-the-counter and prescription drugs
  • Paint or paint removal products
  • Weedkillers
  • Pest control products (rat poison, sprays, etc.)
  • Antifreeze
  • Certain plants (tulips and lilies for cats)
  • Certain foods (dark chocolate, cherries, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, and more)

See more common products that are hazardous in our Pet Poison Prevention post.

Check the Product Label

If your pet is exposed to a chemical product, check the label for instructions on what to do for people exposed to it.

If the label instructs you to wash the skin with soap and water, then do so for your pet. Be sure not to get any in their eyes, nose, or mouth.

If the label tells you to flush the skin or eyes with water, do this for your pet - IF you can do it safely - and call your vet immediately.

Signs of Poison in Your Pet

A few signs that your pet may have been poisoned:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizure
  • Losing consciousness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pale gums
  • Lethargy

Quickly Gather Info

If possible:

  • Note the toxic substance that your pet was exposed to
  • The amount they were exposed to
  • How much time has passed since exposure or consumption
  • Grab the container(s) and packaging of the toxic material
  • Identify the species, breed, age, weight of the pet(s) involved
  • Note the symptoms and when you began to notice them

Get Veterinary Help

Immediately call your veterinarian, the local emergency veterinary hospital, the Animal Poison Control Center hotline at 888-426-4435, or Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661. Be aware that a consultation fee may apply for the hotline or helpline.

Lastly, collect any material that may have been vomited or chewed to take with you to the animal hospital. The more information you can provide your veterinary staff, the better care they can give and the better chance of survival and mitigating/reducing harm to your pet.

Resource: American Veterinary Medical Association

If your pet is having a seizure

  1. Do not try to restrain them or "snap them out of it." Do not place your hands near their mouth.
  2. Make room. Keep your pet away from furniture or objects that might hurt them.
  3. Time the seizure.
  4. After the seizure has stopped, keep them as warm and comfortable as you can and contact your vet.

If the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes, is continuously seizing, or if they have had 2 or more seizures in the last 24 hours, carefully get them into the vehicle (you may consider using a soft blanket to transport them) and take them to the vet.

Resource: American Veterinary Medical Association

What Causes Seizures in Pets

  • Toxins
  • Epilepsy
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Infections
  • Trauma
  • Brain tumors

For much more information on seizures in pets - from what causes them to what the veterinary staff does when a seizure patient is brought in - see our It's an Emergency: Seizures in Dogs post.

If your pet has a heatstroke

Signs of Heatstroke

  • Rapid breathing or heavy panting
  • Fast and irregular heartbeat
  • Excessive drooling
  • Dry or sticky gums
  • Collapse and fainting
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Seizure

Cool Them Down Slowly

Contrary to what we might think, it's important to cool your pet down slowly and not suddenly during heatstroke.

Their body is currently in a sensitive survival state, so a sudden exposure to cold could do more harm and send them into shock.

  1. Get your dog to a shaded area or air-conditioned environment. Use a fan to blow cool air onto them, if available.
  2. Pour water across the dog’s feet and abdomen, or apply wet towels (room temperature water) to their neck, armpits, and groin. Avoid wetting their coat, as water droplets can get trapped between the skin and fur and retain heat instead of relieving it.
  3. Offer cool water (no ice) for them to drink. If they are unconscious, wet their tongue with cool water.
  4. Do not immerse your pet in cold or cool water. Again, this could send them into shock.
  5. Take them to the vet as soon as you can. Prolonged overheating can lead to organ failure, muscle breakdown, and brain damage.

Learn more about canine heatstrokes, including more on how to identify and prevent them in our Heatstrokes in Dogs post.

For more tips on specific emergencies, how they can manifest themselves, and how to prevent them, see our Tails from the Clinic blog. Here are a few articles from our "It's an Emergency!" series.

  • Closeup of tired, senior German Shepherd mix lying down on white blanket

    Gastric Dilation Volvulus

    Sometimes referred to as "bloat" or "twisted stomach," this serious issue can affect many large breeds of dogs.

    Tell me more 
  • Black and white Australian Shepherd stares wide-eyed into the distance as if shocked

    Seizures in Dogs

    Learn some of the reasons why pets may have a seizure, what to do, and the next steps taken at the veterinary hospital.

    Read onward 
  • French Bulldog dressed like Buddy the elf lying behind bowl of spaghetti, a bottle of pancake syrup, and a bottle of Hershey's chocolate syrup

    Diabetic Ketoacidosis

    Diabetes affects more than just humans, and one of the major risks that pets (and people) face is high acidic levels in the blood.

    Let's dive in 

Building a Dog First Aid Kit

Having a first aid kit ready for your dog can be a literal life saver! Here are 11 things we recommend stocking - including Lavengel® (obviously). For more info, see our post on Pet First Aid Awareness.

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    Pet Bandages + Tape

    Cover wounds and protect areas that your dog may attempt to lick and scratch at.

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    Antibacterial Ointment

    Lavengel® not only relieves + heals, but it can also prevent and stop infection.

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    Bandage Scissors

    Great for cutting bandages and removing excess or matted fur around a wound.

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    Nylon Slip Lead

    This can function as a temporary muzzle or a leash if you don’t have your normal one.

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    Plastic Tweezers

    Handy when removing ticks, splinters, or small debris that’s lodged in the skin.

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    Emergency Binder

    Keep a notebook with your dog’s health records, meds, and emergency contacts.

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    Soft Muzzle

    Regardless of their normal temperament, an injured or frightened dog may try to bite.

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    An eyedropper or syringe with no needle can be used to administer medication orally.

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    Wipes + Towel

    Messes happen! A pack of wipes and a couple of towels can be priceless at times.

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    Benadryl Tablets

    Diphenhydramine tablets can be used in case of allergic reactions (e.g., wasp stings).

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    Hydrogen Peroxide

    3% hydrogen peroxide can be used to induce vomiting if something harmful was eaten.