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Helpful Tips for Pet First Aid Awareness Month

The worst part of an adventure is when someone gets hurt — your dog included.

Knowing what to do when something goes wrong gives your dog the best chance at fully recovering and getting back to enjoying life with you!

Learning the basics of pet first aid might save your dog one day. The PEDIGREE Foundation is celebrating this month by giving you some tips to help your dog if he gets injured.

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Poisoning or exposure to toxins

If your dog happens to ingest a poison or toxin, act fast. The symptoms can be confusing, as your dog can’t say, “Hey, I swallowed something that wasn’t good for me and I don’t feel so good!” Look for signs like seizures, losing consciousness, difficulty breathing, or if your dog is just not acting like himself.

If you notice any of these signs, and you know that your dog has gotten into a substance, call your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center (888.426.4435 – available all day every day and there is a fee associated with this call) right away.

TIP: Make sure household products like cleaners, antifreeze, rodent poisons, and foods like coffee, chocolate, avocados, grapes, onions (and more!) are out of your dog’s reach. For a list of household products that are harmful to your dog, check this list.


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First, muzzle your pet. Look and see if the bleeding is external or internal. If external, press a clean, thick gauze pad over the injury. Keep pressure over the injury with your hand until the blood begins to clot. Hold for at least three minutes, then check to see if the bleeding has stopped. You may have to wrap cloth around the injury to completely stop the bleeding and to protect the wound. If the external bleeding is severe, call your veterinarian immediately.

If the bleeding is internal (you see your dog bleeding from his eyes, mouth, rectum, nose, or you notice blood in his urine), get your dog to the veterinarian immediately.


The majority of burns in dogs occur in the home and can be classified as thermal, electrical, or chemical. To treat, muzzle your dog and flush the wound immediately with water. Remove any debris or hair from the injury, then pat dry.


If you notice your dog is having difficulty breathing, is pawing at her mouth, is making choking noises when breathing or coughing, she could be choking.

Look into your dog’s mouth to check if a foreign object is in her throat. Watch out, she may bite out of panic. If you see something, gently try removing it with pliers or tweezers. Be careful not to push the object further down the throat.

If the object cannot be removed or your dog collapses, place both hands on the side of your dog’s rib cage and apply quick firm pressure. Or, you can lay your dog on her side and strike her rib cage firmly with the palm of your hand 3-4 times. The idea is to sharply push air through their throat to push out the object. Repeat this until the object comes out or until you get to the veterinarian’s office.

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Heat Stroke

Never leave your dog in the car on hot days, even on mildly warm days. The temperature in the car can rise quickly to dangerous levels. Your dog can succumb to heat stroke very easily and must be treated quickly for the best chance at a full recovery.

If you are in a place where a hose is available, keep water running over your dog’s body so it can absorb the body heat.

To treat, place a cold, wet towel around your dog’s head and neck without covering their eyes, nose or mouth. Rewet the towel every few minutes until you can get the dog to the veterinarian.

Keep these tips in mind as you explore with your pup! If you rescued your dog from a shelter, or you’re thinking of rescuing a dog, be sure to ask about the dog’s past living environment and ask about any health issues that the shelter is aware of. The information could be helpful in the event that you have to use first aid.