Answer each true/false question below — and remember that, no matter how good your knowledge of pet first aid, you should contact your vet or veterinary emergency room immediately any time your dog is injured.
1) If a dog is in distress, even my own, I should always try to restrain him before administering any kind of treatment.
Answer: True. Any dog can bite. Yes, even your own. An injured dog may be more likely to bite if startled or in pain and should be handled with extreme caution. When in doubt, call your vet or another animal professional to help.
2) If I have a well-stocked first aid kit for humans, I don’t need one for my dog.
Answer: False. Dog first aid kits include refills of your dog’s medication, his veterinary records and emergency numbers for pet care — all things you don’t want to have to search for in an emergency and none of which would be in a human first aid kit. (See what else should be in your dog’s first aid kit.)
3) If my dog gets a burn, I should apply cool, clean water to the area ASAP.
Answer: True. Pouring cool water over a burn can lessen the pain and may also help to stop the spread of the burn. But if the burn is large, don’t try to dip your dog into the water. Instead, pour cool water over the areas or apply clean, wet towels.
With any burn, you should call your vet or the nearest 24-hour animal hospital. They will be able to tell you whether your dog should be seen immediately or if it can wait for a regular appointment.
4) If my dog ingests something I know is poisonous, I should induce vomiting and then call my vet.
Answer: False. Unless specifically directed to do so by a vet, never induce vomiting in your dog, since some toxic substances can harm your dog even more coming back up. Instead, call your vet or the ASPCA’s Pet Poison Control Hotline (888-4ANI-HELP or 888-426-4435) immediately.
5) If my dog gets bitten by a poisonous snake or other venomous animal, I should attempt to suck out the venom and then take my dog to the vet.
Answer: False. If you think your dog’s been bitten by a venomous snake or other animal, restrict your dog’s movements as much as possible to slow the spread of the toxin and bring your dog to the vet ASAP. If you can, give your vet a detailed description of the animal that bit your pet — but don’t try to capture or kill that animal, as you will waste valuable time and risk being bitten yourself.
6) If my dog is bleeding from his tail or leg for more than five minutes, I should apply a tourniquet.
Answer: False. Tourniquets stop or slow blood flow to a limb, which can cause the tissue to die. Your dog’s leg or tail may need to be amputated as a result — so only use a tourniquet in a life-or-death situation. Instead, cover your dog’s wound with a clean, sterile bandage and apply firm, constant pressure. If the bleeding is heavy or doesn’t stop in five minutes, contact your vet.
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