Pet Expressway for Dogs

Pet Life Saving Aids – To Save Your Dog’s Life

Pet Life Saving Aids – To Save Your Dog’s Life

Would you know how to save your dog’s life if faced with an emergency until you can make it to the vet’s?

Unfortunately, many dog owners are unsure what to do in cases of emergencies. To understand and know what to do we have presented some essential pet life-saving aids that will help you save your dog’s life if faced with a life-threatening situation.


What Are Pet Life Saving Aids

Pet Life Saving Aids are assessment tools and techniques that are used in extreme emergencies to preserve the life of your dog until you can reach proper veterinary care.

There is a difference between Pet Life Saving Aids and Pet First Aid. Specifically, pet first aid is meant to control the situation, whether it be illness or injury, and then make a determination relative to seeking veterinary care. Whereas with Pet Life Saving Aids, you need to more fully resolve the medical situation in order to save your dog’s life at that moment. This will always be followed up by immediate veterinary care.


Article Summary

Know How to Assess an Emergency involving your Dog
7 Steps To Assess an Emergency involving your Dog
  1. How to Assess your Dog’s Airways
  2. How to Assess your Dog’s Breathing
  3. How to Assess your Dog’s Circulation
  4. How to Assess your Dog’s Mucous Membrane Color
  5. How to Asses your Dog’s Capillary Refill Time
  6. How to Assess Bleeding in your Dog
  7. How to Assess your Dog’s Level of Consciousness.
4 Basic Life Saving Techniques for your Dog
  1. Pet CPR
  2. How to Check for Shock
  3. Techniques to Stop Bleeding
  4.  Heimlich Maneuver
14 Life-Threatening Situations with Life Saving Aid Recommendations
  1. Bloat Situation
  2. Dog exhibits Weakness, Disoriented & Shaking Situation
  3. Dog Vomiting Situation
  4. Choking Situation
  5. Car Accident Situation
  6. Collapse Situation
  7. Drowning Situation
  8. Electric Shock Situation
  9. Dehydration Situation
  10. Hypothermia Situation
  11. Heat Stroke Situation
  12. Upper Airway Emergencies Situation
  13. Poisoning by Ingestion Situation

Know-How To Assess an Emergency Involving Your Dog

Having the necessary knowledge can be vital to save your dog’s life during an emergency illness or injury. Make sure you are prepared by learning how to assess an emergency & possibly save your dog’s  before you can make it to the veterinarian.

1. Quick Survey of the Situation

If your dog or a dog you encounter is in medical jeopardy the first thing you should do is to get a very brief overview of the situation. 

Do you see blood, vomit, feces, odd breathing, body language, or body postures? This literally takes only a few seconds. Mentally collect this information but take no action on it. There may be more life-threatening symptoms that need to be addressed first. For example, breathing and circulatory distress are much more life-threatening than a wound or a broken leg so make a mental note of what you see in order that you may report it to the veterinarian.


2. Check Airways, Breathing, and Circulation (ABCs)

After a quick survey of the situation, you must first check your dog’s airways, breathing, and circulation. These are known as the ABCs of an emergency.

  • Examine your dog’s airway – Is the airway open?
  • Next check his breathing – Is the dog breathing?
  • Inspect your dog’s circulation. Does he have a heartbeat and a pulse?

Checking these 3 vital areas may lead you to need to administer CPR to your dog. For example, breathing and circulatory distress are much more life-threatening than a wound or a broken leg so make a mental note of what you see in order that you may report it to the veterinarian. These 3 vital steps are included in the 7 steps to assess an emergency which we have outlined in greater detail below.


7 Steps To Assess an Emergency involving your Dog

The 7 steps to assess an emergency involving your dog include checking and assessing the airway, breathing, circulation, mucous membrane color, capillary refill time, bleeding, and level of consciousness. These checks will literally take only a few moments to evaluate. All 7 assessment tools should be used before you take any life-saving action during a threatening medical situation involving your dog.


1. How To Assess Your Dog’s Airway

To assess the airways it is necessary to check to see if the dog’s mouth and throat are free of foreign objects such as vomit or other matter. Follow the guidelines below:

  • Lay the dog down on either side.
  • Tilt the head back a bit using a gentle motion.
  • Now that the head and neck are slightly extended, pull the tongue outward with your fingers so it is between the teeth. Look for any foreign objects.
  • Then use your finger to physically check for and if necessary clear any foreign object.

Tip: Grasping the tongue is easier if you use a towel or some type of cloth or if nothing else is available in this time of emergency try the sleeve of your shirt. [Top]


2. How to Assess your Dog’s Breathing

At this point, we are not focusing on the dog’s breathing rate (breaths per minute). We just want to check to see if the dog is in fact breathing. With your dog lying down or standing, simply place your hand on his chest to feel for a rise and fall. If you are unsure you could also hold a tissue in from of his nostrils to see if it moves.


3. How to Assess your Dog’s Circulation

Circulation means that the blood is flowing through the dog’s body. You know a dog has circulation if he has a heart beat / a pulse. We are not aiming to know the dog’s pulse or heart rate (beats per minute) We just want to make sure that the dog has a heartbeat/ pulse.

Assessing circulation by the heartbeat is simply done by feeling for it.

  1. You can feel your dog’s heartbeat by lying him down on ‘his right’ side.
  2. Take the left front leg and extend it towards your dog’s back. Bring it to the point where the “left elbow meets the chest”
  3. Slip your four fingers/ hand, no thumb, over this spot and feel for the heartbeat.

You can assess the dog’s circulation by checking the pulse in 3 areas of the dog’s body.

  1. Inner Thigh:
    The easiest area is the inner thigh. Lay your pet down on his back or side. Open up the back leg, exposing the inner thigh, and place two fingers (the peace sign) where the leg meets the wall of the body. This is where the femoral artery lies. Feel for a pulse by gently pressing your index and pointer finger on this area. One tip is not to press too firmly or you will block the pulse. And don’t use your thumb, as it has a pulse.
  2.  Wrist (Carpus):
    below the carpus (wrist)
  3.  Hock:
    Under the ankle (hock).

For emergency purposes, we recommend you learn heartbeat assessment and inner thigh pulse.  More detailed information on this topic can be found in the article on How To Check Your Dog For A Normal Pulse.

Now that you know how to assess Airway, Breathing and also known as the (ABCs of an emergency ), you need to know how to assess a few additional areas of importance before we can discuss how to put all of this information to use in an emergency. [Top]


4. How to Assess your Dog’s Mucous Membrane Color

You can assess the Mucous Membrane by either lifting the dog’s upper lip or gently pull the dog’s skin under the lower eyelid. These areas will reveal mucous membranes.

  • If the color of your dog’s mucous membrane is pink then your dog is getting enough oxygen into his tissues.
  • If the color of this membrane is blue, yellow, or brick red you are facing an emergency situation with your dog.

Please note that some dogs have pigmented gums that can already look blackish when healthy. Also, older dogs or dogs with a pre-existing illness can have gums that look. dark red or even blueish when they are in a non-emergency condition. This is because they already have oxygen flow issues. For example, a dog with congenital heart failure issues may have bluish tinted gums. It is always best to know the color of your dog’s mucous membrane before any type of emergency occurs so that you can determine what is normal and abnormal for your particular dog. Make sure you ask your veterinarian for your next check-up what’s normal for your dog.


5. How to Assess your Dog’s Capillary Refill Time

Assess capillary refill time by lifting the dog’s upper lip and lightly pressing his gums with your finger. This should cause the gums under your finger to blanch or turn white. As you release your finger, note the amount of time it takes for the gums to return to their normal color.

There is a detailed discussion on this topic about capillary refill time in the article How Can I Tell if my Pet is Sick.

  • Capillary refill time less than 1 second is to be considered an emergency.
  • Capillary refill time less than 2 seconds is considered normal.
  • Capillary refill time greater than 3 seconds is to be considered an emergency.

Similarly, a capillary refill time of less than one second is considered an emergency. Your dog could be going into shock. We will discuss how to check for and treat shock in our ‘understanding basic life-saving techniques section’ shortly. [Top]


6. How to Assess Bleeding in your Dog

Assess the bleeding to identify its type.

If the bleeding is spurting out rhythmically and it’s bright red in color then it is coming from an artery. This is urgent.

Bleeding that is flowing slowly and burgundy (i.e darker) in color is less serious, as it is coming from a blood vessel or vein under the skin. [Top]


7. How to Assess your Dog’s Level of Consciousness

Assess the level of consciousness by simply noting if the dog is alert or unconscious, acting hyper or disoriented. This will become important when administering certain life-saving techniques. For example, it is traditionally thought that you should not perform breathing on a conscious dog.



4 Basic Life Saving Techniques for your Dog

Let’s say your dog is in an emergency situation that immediately requires some life-saving aid until you can reach a veterinarian for help. Perhaps your dog was hit by a car or is choking or perhaps in a state of disorientation. You now know how to assess the 7  steps to assess an emergency involving your dog. Consequently, this may lead you to perform some type of life-saving technique on your dog to save his life. It’s best to learn these techniques first in order that you can apply them knowledgeably and rapidly to the corresponding emergency. [Top]


1. Pet CPR

Pet CPR is a life-saving technique that would be used if your dog is not breathing or has no heartbeat. We have already reviewed how to assess the airway, breathing, and circulation. This knowledge will make it easier to rapidly identify if CPR is needed. Remember to follow the steps as presented below.

ABC’s of CPR for Dogs

Step 1 – Is the dog’s airway open? If yes, go to step 2 Breathing. If no then open the airway. To review from the above description, tilt head back, extend the neck, pull tongue between front teeth, remove vomit or debris with finger

Step 2 – Is the dog breathing? If yes, go to step 3 Circulation. If no, open the airway and perform breathing. Hold the dog’s muzzle closed, place your mouth over the dog’s nose and exhale with force. Give 4 to 5 breaths quickly then check to see if the dog is breathing on its own. Remember they should be rapid forceful breaths.

If the dog does not begin to breathe or is breathing only faintly or with irregularity, continue with this artificial breathing technique as you transport to the hospital. You are providing oxygen to the lungs and vital organs until simultaneous breathing resumes.

Step 3 – Is there a heartbeat or pulse aka circulation? If yes hold steady. If no perform chest compressions and nose to mouth respiration. How you will perform chest compressions depends upon the size of the dog. These directions are meant for one person performing CPR.


CPR for Small Dogs under 30 lbs (or a cat)

  1. Lay the dog on his right side (his heart is on his left & you want that area exposed)
  2. Kneel with your dog’s chest facing you as you place one hand on his heart where the ” left elbow meets the chest” ***see assessing circulation above.. And place the other hand underneath the right side of the dog’s body.
  3. Compress the dog’s chest about 1/2 to 1 inch and perform 5 compressions for each breath you give, then check for a pulse

CPR for Medium to Large dogs (30 to 90 lbs)

  1. Lay the dog on his right side (his heart is on the left & you want that area exposed)
  2. Kneel with the dog’s back toward you.
  3. Cup your hands over each other
  4. Compress 1 to 3 inches per compression, where the “left elbow meets the chest” (see assessing circulation above) perform 5 compressions for each breath you give, then check for a pulse.
Other CPR Tips for Dogs include:
  • When opening the airway, if your dog is unconscious or lethargic, make sure that the tongue is not falling back into his throat after clearing the airway. Your dog cannot control his tongue in his condition.
  • When you perform  CPR on a small breed dog, its mouth will be sealed by your nose to mouth technique and will not require holding the muzzle closed. Your thumb and one finger may be placed on the muzzle for a sense of security when performing this technique.
  • Do not perform breathing on a conscious animal.
  • Never assume the dog has no heartbeat if he is not breathing.
  • Do not start chest compression unless you check for a heartbeat. For chest compressions, giant breed dogs such as Great Danes require 10 compressions per breath, then check for a pulse when one person is performing CPR.

For two-person CPR use the following guidelines:

  • Small 3 compressions for each breath then check for a pulse.
  • Medium/Large two or 3 compressions for 1 breath then check for a pulse.
  • Giant 6 compressions for 1 breath then check for a pulse.

Once you start CPR you should continue until the dog has a strong heartbeat and pulse or until you reach the vet hospital. [Top]


2. How to Check your Dog for Shock

Shock is life-threatening and takes precedence over other injuries. For this reason, this life-saving technique often is performed in conjunction with the ABC’s or CPR. Shock indicates that the dog is being deprived of oxygen. To check for shock, begin by checking capillary refill time. Capillary refill time is the amount of time it takes for the color to return to the gums after they have been pressed with a finger.

Look at the dog’s mucous membrane color by lifting his upper lip to expose his gums. Press it lightly for a second or two as you see it blanch around and under your finger. Watch the color of the gums as you remove your finger and determine how long it takes to return to its original color. A capillary refill time of less than 1 second or more than 3 seconds is an emergency. a time of 1 to 2 seconds is normal. Remember this is telling us if the dog has proper blood circulation. If he doesn’t have proper blood circulation then he is being deprived of oxygen and therefore it is a life-threatening emergency.


How to Recognize and Treat Shock in Your Dog

The 3 stages of shock include:

  1. Early Stage: Increased heart rate, gums redder than normal capillary refill time less than one second.
  2. Middle Stage: Low body temperature, cool limbs, weak pulse, pale or blue gums. Capillary Refill time greater than 4 seconds.
  3. Terminal Shock:  Weak or absent pulse, slow heart and respiratory rate, depressed mental state. Immediately take the dog to the vet as you treat for shock. You can help and treat your dog by wrapping him in a warm blanket and elevating his hindquarters so that the blood flows downward. Then monitor breathing and heartbeat and if your dog slips into terminal shock on the trip to the vet clinic CPR may be necessary. [Top]


.3. Techniques to Stop Bleeding in your Dog

As already discussed in our assessment section, it is best to understand what type of bleeding is taking place in order to determine if it takes precedence over other medical issues. For example, if a dog is bleeding from a bite wound but is unconscious. The unconscious state takes precedence over the bleeding state if the blood flow is slow and of a darker red color. This is because that description indicates bleeding from a blood vessel organ under the skin.  If the blood is spurting in a rhythmic fashion and is bright red, that indicates bleeding is coming from an artery which is a very serious life-threatening situation.

The technique to stop bleeding will be to apply pressure, direct pressure with some type of gauze or towel on the wound.

Helpful Tips If Your Dog Is Bleeding:
  • Never pull back on the towel to check to see if the dog is still bleeding.
  • Do not remove the towel if it is saturated with blood, simply add more gauze or another towel to the wound area. This is due to the fact that doing so would interrupt the clotting process of the bleed. Just remember once you apply pressure do not stop.
  • Elevate the wound area above the level of the heart. remember it can take as much as 10 to 15 minutes for bleeding to stop. [Top]


4. Canine Heimlich Maneuver

Another vital life-saving technique to understand is the Canine Heimlich Maneuver. This technique pushes air out of the lungs and makes the dog cough. It is most frequently used for dogs who are choking.


Performing CPR on Large Dogs
  • For large dogs, you should be standing behind them.
  • Wrap your arms around their body.
  • Make a fist with your dominant hand and hold it thumb first against your dog’s body.
  • Place this fist right below the sternum (chest bone) on the dog’s abdomen.
  • Cup the other hand on top of this fist and use the force of your arms and hands to push upward and towards the dog’s shoulders.
  • It should be a sudden forceful motion. Perform this 4 to 5 times and check for proper breathing and a clear airway.


Performing CPR on Small Dogs
  • For small dogs, you should hold the dog with his head up so his back is against your chest.
  • Make a fist with one hand and place it against your dog’s abdomen right below the sternum.
  • Cup the other hand on top of this fist and give 4 to 5 thrusts with inward and upward motion.
  • Then check for proper breathing and a clear airway.
  • You may also use the traditional canine Heimlich technique for large dogs with smaller breed dogs. Depending on your size, and their size you may be using a slighter fist.


We now know the seven ways on how to assess an emergency involving your dog and have also covered some basic pet life-saving aid techniques such as how to give canine CPR,”, how to recognize and treat shock, how to administer aid for bleeding, and how to give the Canine Heimlich Maneuver. We’ll now put this information to use in our next section below which outlines some commonly occurring life-threatening emergencies

For each type of emergency, we will present a ‘Life-Threatening Situation along with ‘Life Saving’ Aid’ recommendations.  We will continue discussing extreme life-threatening situations that could possibly occur in your dog’s lifetime. Quick-acting, life-saving aid must be applied immediately if any of these emergency situations arise.


14 Life-Threatening Situations for your Dog

With Life Saving Aid Recommendations

Unfortunately, you can be faced with a multitude of life-threatening situations involving your dog and we have highlighted some of the most common situations below.


1. Life-Threatening Bloat Situation

Your dog is drooling, pacing around and restless. He may try to vomit unsuccessfully or just vomit foam and his stomach may look distended. He may be suffering from bloat. Bloat is a serious condition whereby the dog’s stomach fills up with air or food and it goes into contortion. Meaning it twists and turns around itself.

– Life-Saving Aid

Your ‘life saving ‘ aid step is to check your dog’s airway, breathing and circulation as described in the assessment section in Pet First Aid Part 1 and then perform CPR if needed. Also, check for shock and treat this as needed while transporting your dog to the vet hospital. [Top]


2. Life-Threatening Blood Sugar Issues

Hypoglycemia occurs when the dog’s blood sugar is too low and it can be caused by diabetes and other underlying diseases.

Hyperglycemia means the dog’s blood sugar is too high and this can be caused by pancreatitis and other medical conditions. [Top]

Dog exhibits Weakness, Disoriented & Shaking Situation

Blood sugar issues can cause your dog to exhibit signs of weakness, act in an almost drunken state, become disoriented or shake. The dog may even become unconscious. You first go to the ‘life saving ‘ aid technique of checking the airways, breathing, and circulation (ABCs). Give CPR if needed. The ‘drunken’ appearance is usually a telltale sign of hypoglycemia. And if your dog is a diabetic, you will already be aware of this potential.

– Life-Saving Aid

Your next ‘life-saving’ aid step will be to rub corn syrup on your dog’s gums. Then immediately take your dog to the emergency vet.


3. Life-Threatening Dog Vomiting Situation

If you come across your dog vomiting and there is a sweet smell to his breath along with him being weak and will not eat. The sweet breath is a telltale sign of hyperglycemia.

– Life-Saving Aid

Your ‘ life-saving’ aid should be to check Airway, Breathing, and Circulation and give CPR if needed. Also, check for and treat shock on your way to the vet hospital. [Top]


4. Life-Threatening Choking Situation

Your dog is struggling to breathe, making retching noises, or even silently pawing at his mouth. The dog is likely choking. Your dog could have an obstruction in his throat caused by food, toy, choking on his own vomit, or even from his tongue swelling due to an allergic reaction.

– Life-Saving Aid

No matter what the cause, ‘life-saving’ aid will be to first open the dog’s mouth and sweep from side to side with your fingers looking for debris and even move the tongue forward-looking to remove an obstruction. If this does not dislodge the object then you could use the Canine Heimlich Maneuver previously presented. [Top]


5. Life-Threatening Car Accident Situation

A car accident is every dog owner’s worst nightmare. The dog runs out into the street and gets hit by a car.

– Life-Saving Aid

Multiple forms of ‘life-saving’ aid need to be pursued in this emergency. Immediately assess Airway, Breathing, and Circulation. Give CPR if needed. Assess for Bleeding and treat as already presented in the life-saving aid section. Take a moment to check for shock and treat as needed as you transport the dog to the vet hospital. Then try to note how the accident happened in order to assist your vet in determining what action to take. [Top]


6. Life-Threatening Collapse Situation

For some unknown reason, you find your dog suddenly falling over with weakness or unconsciousness. Reasons for this could be trauma or disease. Waste no time in your ‘ life-saving’ aid.

– Life-Saving Aid

Assess Airway, Breathing, and Circulation. Then perform CPR if needed and immediately go to vet hospital even if your dog should seem to recuperate from this collapse and ‘snap’ out of it; still, bring him to the emergency vet. [Top]


7. Life-Threatening Drowning Situation

Your dog either falls in or attempts to swim in a pool or other body of water and is not able to exit.

– Life-Saving Aid

If you recover your dog from this situation your most important ‘life-saving’ aid will be to hold your dog upside down by his back legs or leverage him into a similar position in order that the water can expel from his nose and mouth.

Next, the canine Heimlich Maneuver may be a useful tool if there happens to be water still in the dog’s airways. Next, you should lay the dog on the ground, resting him on something like a blanket that will raise his backside, thereby lowering this head and neck. This will allow any water to flow out of the body. Now you are ready to Assess Airway, Breathing, and Circulation and perform CPR if needed. Bring the dog to the emergency vet immediately. [Top]


8. Life-Threatening Electric Shock Situation

Suppose your dog has either collapsed or is experiencing lethargy. He may be drooling, coughing, or having trouble breathing. Also, you may notice a foul odor coming from his mouth and even an ulcer or part of his tongue missing. Wee your dog has just chewed a plugged-in electrical cord when playing or when anxious.

– Life-Saving Aid

Your first ‘life-saving’ aid should be to check for Shock and treat as necessary. Next, assess Airway, Breathing, and Circulation. Perform CPR if needed and transport to the vet hospital. Be sure to bring your dog to the Veterinary Clinic even if he seems okay. Electric shock can cause damage to your dog’s internal organs. [Top]


9. Life-Threatening Dehydration Situation

Your dog has a case of prolonged diarrhea and has lost a lot of fluid. He is lethargic with no appetite, sticky gums, and has sunken eyes. He may be suffering from dehydration. Dehydration is a very life-threatening event for dogs. Any time a dog loses fluids, hence electrolytes, or he does not drink enough water he can fall victim to dehydration.

A dog does not recover as efficiently as humans from dehydration. It can lead to shock, organ failure, and even death. Dehydration requires immediate veterinary attention to primarily give IV fluids. Which is something we are unable to do at home.

– Life-Saving Aid

if you suspect dehydration then you need to check the skin’s elasticity to detect and determine the severity of dehydration. You can do this by pulling up on the skin on the dog’s scruff of the neck on his back.

If the skin springs back rapidly, then the dog is hydrated, however, if it moves back into its original position slowly, then the dog is dehydrated. for more detailed into.


YouTube video


If the dog is mildly dehydrated you may want to slowly introduce small amounts of water or electrolyte replacement liquids such as Pedialyte into the dog orally. Otherwise, any level of dehydration beyond that really should be handled by a veterinarian. You will be amazed as to how much better your dog feels immediately from being given a bag of IV Fluids from his vet.

To avoid dehydration in the first place it could be a good idea when out walking with your dog to bring his own water bottle with him. [Top]


10. Life-Threatening Hypothermia Situation

You take your dog for a walk in the cold weather and he is overcome by the cold. He may be exhibiting severe shivering that suddenly stops and starts up again. He may become very lethargic and the skin is cold to the touch.

– Life-Saving Aid
  • For this situation, you should continually assess the dog’s gums (check for shock), noting if they are pale or blue as well as circulation, noting if the pulse is weak as you warm the dog up as quickly as possible.
  • You can wrap the dog in a warm or electric blanket and put some towels in the dryer to wrap him in.
  • Another idea would be a heating pad on his belly. Regardless you need to take the dog to the veterinarian while performing these ‘life-saving aid techniques’, even if you think the dog is better.

Hypothermia can cause underlying issues such as neurological, kidney, and heart problems. [Top]


11. Life-Threatening Heat Stroke Situation

You take your dog for a walk in the hot weather and he is overcome by the heat. He may be exhibiting any or all of the following: Panting that becomes heavier as the heatstroke progresses, drooling or salivating, bright red tongue and gums that are very red, heart rate and breathing are increased and the dog may even become agitated or act drunk. He could even have a seizure or collapse. This all of course depends on how long and how severe the level of heatstroke.

– Life-Saving Aid
  • In a case of heatstroke no matter how severe, ‘life-saving aid’ would be to immediately remove him from the direct heat source and check him for shock.
  • Then you must cool him down as quickly as possible depending on what is available.
  • You could spray him with or pour water on him from a water source. You could even place a water-soaked towel on him.
  • Areas to focus on would be the head, neck, chest, paws, and abdomen. You can then massage the dog’s skin and flex his legs to make the blood circulate.
  • Your goal is to perform these life-saving aid techniques until the dog’s temperature reaches 103. Then halt the cooling technique.

Heat Stroke requires a trip to the veterinarian since many of its consequences can affect internal organs.

A Dog Cooling Bandana is an easy-to-carry but essential item anytime you’re out in the warm weather with your dog.  Simply pour cold water on it and you’ll be able to lower your dog’s body temperature anywhere between 10 and 30 degrees while you get him to a safe shady area or inside of a cool building.  Also a Summer Cooling Dog Vest can be ideal for your pet dog on those very warm summer days.


Tips relative to Heat Stroke
  • Always bring water with you when you are out walking with your dog. You could use a Pet Portable Water Bottle – the ideal companion on a warm day.
  • The most common reason dogs get heat stroke is from being left in a parked car alone. Never ever do this, not even for a quick second to run into the store.
  • Once a dog gets heatstroke, they are much more vulnerable to getting it in the future.
  • Dog with short muzzles, such as Pugs, Boxers, and Bulldogs are more susceptible to getting heatstroke. Black coated and heavily coated dogs are likely candidates to fall victim to this emergency; as are young puppies.
  • Remember, dogs do not have sweat glands and can sweat from their noses and pad of paws only. So it is your job to protect them from this life-threatening emergency. [Top]


12. Life-Threatening Upper Airway Emergencies Situation

After exposure to heat, exercise, or stress, your dog is experiencing an increased breathing rate and increased effort in order to breathe. He may be having an upper airway attack. This happens most often with dogs who have pushed in faces like Pugs and Boxers due to structural issues such as narrow nasal passages or an over-extending soft pallet.

Other breeds have genetic issues that may cause laryngeal paralysis or collapse such as a Labrador Retriever or Yorkshire Terriers respectively. A more common airway condition collapsed trachea is very common with small breed dogs and can be congenital or acquired. This is when the cartilage in the trachea is weak and flattens, obstructing the airway.

– Life-Saving Aid

  • In any case, your ‘Life Saving Aid’ should be to check Airway, Breathing, and Circulation. If those are normal, extend your dog’s neck upward so his nose points towards the ceiling and gently rub his neck and calm him with your voice.
  • If the attack was associated with heat or exercise, remove him from that situation. It is best to identify the cause of your dog’s upper airway issue so you can best treat it, as these issues tend to degenerate with aging.
  • In the meantime keep your dog’s weight at healthy levels and use a dog harness for walking. This will help manage the condition and delay surgery or even premature death if the airway issue is not surgically treatable.


13. Life-Threatening Poisoning by Ingestion Situation

Your dog has swallowed food or liquid that is anywhere from mild to deadly in toxicity. Some categories would be eating poisonous plants, common household poisons, and toxic foods.

Some general signs of poisoning by ingestion in your dog would be:

  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Foaming at the mouth or
  • Excessive drooling, trembling seizures, and lethargy.
  • Unusual mental behavior such as being overly excited or depressed.

Often the method of detection is finding evidence of something toxic that your dog has eaten. That’s if you are aware of what those things are. Actually, identifying what the toxic agent is will determine much of your ‘ life-saving aid’ care. Before we give a life-saving aid protocol, let’s give a general list of toxic agents your dog may ingest.

Please note that these lists are by no means a complete listing of toxins by ingestion; as this is a discussion on pet life-saving techniques. You may like to send us an additional list of poisons and toxins that may have been overlooked.

Is the toxin mild or severe and is the amount of toxin going to determine the course of action you take.. this list is a good starting point for you to investigate this issue. [Top]

1. Poisonous Plants
  • Hops – Seizures – Death
  • Marijuana – Depress nervous system, vomiting, changes in heart rate
  • Lilies – Acute kidney failure, even the vase water they were placed in.
  • Poinsettia – Mild
  • Oleander –  Can attack the heartbeat
  • Sago Palms – Liver failure
  • Azaleas – Cardiac arrest
  • Tomato Plants- (Stems leaves) – Mild
  • Hemlock –  Highly toxic
2. Common Household Poisons
  • Anti Freeze – (Tastes sweet) – Extremely poisonous. can cause kidney failure in a matter of only a few days.
  • Aspirin – Mild to severe, vomit blood, ulcers in stomach, kidney failure
  • Acetaminophen – Rapidly toxic, liver damage
  • Cleaning Agents – Mild to severe, drooling, salivating, vomiting, abdominal pain
  • Insecticides & Rodenticides – Drooling, nausea, vomiting diarrhea
  • Lead – Neurological and gastro-intestinal distress, trembling, and lethargy.
3. Foods
  • Alcohol – Seizures, coma, death
  • Avocado –  (persin) – vomiting and diarrhea
  • Cat Food – Too high in protein and fats
  • Chocolate, Coffee, Tea & Other Caffeine- (theobromine/ theophylline) vomiting, diarrhea and can be toxic to the heart and nervous system.
  • Fat Trimmings – Pancreatitis
  • Fish – Thiamine deficiency (B Vitamin)
  • Garlic – Damage red blood cells, cause anemia
  • Grapes, Raisins & Currants – Kidney damage
  • Macadamia Nuts – Affects nervous system
  • Mushrooms –  In the wild not in grocery stores
  • Onions – Damage red blood cells, cause anemia
  • Raw Eggs -(avidin) Skin and coat problems & neurological issues, salmonella
  • Raw Meat – Salmonella E coli
  • Salt – Electrolyte imbalances, seizures, and death
  • Tobacco – (nicotine) Affects the digestive system, the nervous system & can cause death
Life-Saving Aid for Poisoning by Ingestion will depend on a variety of factors.

First, as you can tell by the lists presented above some items are mildly toxic whereas other items are extremely dangerous. Suppose your dog just ate a piece of onion that fell on the floor. You should look up its level of toxicity and its medical consequences. Here, it was only a bit of onion and it can cause red blood cell damage and anemia over time. Plus it is not ‘rapidly toxic’. In this case, it is best to offer no life-saving aid.

Let’s contrast that with another situation.

Suppose your dog has just consumed a few Tylenol tablets that you left on your bedside table. In this situation the medical consequences are liver failure as these tablets can be rapidly toxic. In this situation, a life-saving aid is required. If you have noticed the signs of poisoning listed above but were not able to identify the toxin, then assume you have a life-saving emergency on your hands.

The first Life-Saving Aid step will be to call poison control if you know what toxin your pet consumed. The ASPCA National Poison Control Center is 1800-548-2423.  Stop what you are doing right now and put this number on your cell phone.

If you do not know what the dog consumed, rush to the vet.

Here the key is determining the following factors

  • Whether or not you should induce vomiting or
  • whether the dog should have his stomach pumped out or else
  • If he needs activated charcoal to block absorption beyond the stomach.

Never induce vomiting on your own. Vomiting should only be performed when you are instructed to do so by a veterinarian or the poison control hotline.

Some poisons such as Drano can be caustic so if you induce vomiting it could cause damage. Also do not induce vomiting if your dog has developed difficulty breathing or his heart rate slowed. The same situation occurs if the dog were to become unconscious or beginning to have seizures.

If you are told you can induce vomiting, this is the proper protocol. You can give your dog household hydrogen peroxide, 3% solution,. Give the dog one teaspoon per 10 lb of dog every 15 minutes. You can do this up to three times.

Another method to induce vomiting:

  • Take a moistened paper towel,
  • Pour salt on the paper towel
  • Place it underneath the dog’s tongue. [Top]


14. Poisoning by Infliction Situation

Your dog had been bitten or stung by an insect or animal which carries venom. Pet Life Saving Aid will depend on the nature and severity of the assault. Our three areas of concern are insect bites, snake bites, and other.


1. Insect Bites

Suppose your dog receives a bee sting, spider bite, or fire-ant bite. If you were not present for the incident, some signs would be itching and licking at the site of the infliction. Face and neck swelling, trouble breathing.

Anaphylactic shock is a severe allergic reaction that can occur slowly over hours or rapidly. This is life-threatening as it affects breathing.

– Life-Saving Aid

Pet life-saving aid for a serious bite or sting would be as follows:

  • Assess airway, breathing, and circulation in the case of the dog’s face and neck being swollen.
  • Check for shock.
  • Next, remove the stinger by scraping it with an object, not pulling it out as that may release more poison.
  • Clean the area and apply a cold pack to it.
  • You may use diphenhydramine, which is an antihistamine like Benadryl.

For more detailed information on allergic reactions and dosing please review the article on Pet First Aid Part 1.

2. Snake Bites

Suppose your dog gets bitten by a snake that may or may not be venomous. If the snake is not poisonous you can treat it as if it were any puncture wound

– Life-Saving Aid

If the snake is poisonous or if you are unsure then your life-saving aid would be the following:

  • Rinse the wound with water to remove Venom,
  • Keep the wound below the heart and
  • Try to keep your dog still as this reduces the speed of the venom from spreading.
  • Next, check airway breathing and circulation and perform CPR if needed.
  • Check for shock and treat as needed as you transfer the dog to the veterinarian.
Some Tips
  • Never cut open the wound in order to suck out the venom.
  • Don’t apply ice to the area and
  • Do not use a tourniquet on the area.
  • Remember that any movement may cause the toxin to spread further during a snake bite.
  • Do your best to use prevention especially for young puppies. A puppy can die within one hour after a snake bite and is most likely to be bitten due to its curiosity.

Some examples of Venomous Snakes that bite are as follows: Coral Snake, Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, Timber Rattlesnake, Copper Head, Cottonmouth and Pygmy Rattlesnake.

It would be very helpful if you know and can identify poisonous snakes indigenous to your area and it’s advisable to check with your state or locality to find out which poisonous snakes dwell there.[Top]


3. Other

Suppose your dog is stung by a jellyfish at the beach.

  • Make sure you do not touch the area directly with your hands.
  • Pull off the tentacles with a stick.
  • Rinse, without rubbing the stung area, with seawater as rubbing spreads the poison.
  • Transport your dog to the veterinarian.

Some dogs can have an anaphylactic reaction to jellyfish stings and should be monitored. Anaphylactic shock is an extreme, often life-threatening allergic reaction to an antigen to which the body has become hypersensitive.  In dogs, anaphylactic shock can occur from an allergic reaction to food, sting, injection, or bite. It is vital that you seek immediate professional veterinary assistance

All of our life-threatening emergency situations ultimately require taking your dog to the veterinarian. The measures you take beforehand could save your dog’s life. Please take time to learn the 7 assessment tools and be familiar with your life-saving Aid techniques.


For Further Information..

For a complete, encyclopedic survival guide to all aspects of dog health, from preventative care to choosing a vet to doggie First Aid, you should take a look at The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health.

It’s a survival guide for knowledgeable, effective, and life-saving dog care. This manual keeps your dog’s health and well-being firmly within your control – which is exactly where you want it to be.

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Keith Byrne

Keith Byrne

From an early age Keith has been around dogs. He has been involved in dog grooming, dog walking, dog sitting and dog showing as well as voluntary work in animal shelters. His aim is to help all dog owners especially newbies learn about dogs and care for them in a loving, caring and fun way.


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