Why Every Owner Should Learn Dog First Aid

Why Every Owner Should Learn Dog First Aid

As of 2022, there are approximately 13 million dogs* in the UK and sadly many owners don’t even know basic dog first aid training.

Parents are far more likely to learn first aid when preparing for their first new born. That’s why we feel it’s incredibly important for owners and professional dog walkers to have at least a basic understanding of dog first aid.

At Dog Friendly Sussex, we love to support and help local businesses, therefore when we came across the fantastic work Kathy Hobson does, we just knew we had to shout as loud as possible about the fantastic training she offers.

Kathy Hobson from Dog First Aid Sussex

Kathy Hobson represents the Sussex area for Dog First Aid Training. Kathy has undertaken extensive training with registered members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and has been a qualified dog first aid trainer for the past three years. Here’s what she has to say about learning first aid to keep your pooch as safe as possible:

Are there any dog first aid essentials owners should keep at home, such as bandages?

“Definitely! We recommend you have a full first aid at home and in the car, and that you carry a basic kit with you everywhere you go with your dog. Our basic kits include a pair of gloves, a bandage, a swab and a pod of saline solution. Our full kits include:

  • 2 x saline pods
  • 1 x medium bandage
  • 1 x large bandage
  • 1 x foil blanket
  • 5 x swabs
  • 1 x micropore tape
  • 1 x conforming bandage
  • 2 x pairs gloves
  • 2 x plastic bag
  • 4 x wipes
  • 1 x scissors
  • 1 x tweezers

“In addition to the kits, it’s a good idea to have a tick remover at home, a thermometer that could be used on your dog if the vet requests it (you need one that goes up to 42°C and some human ones only go up to 40°C), and an antiseptic spray that can be used on minor cuts, grazes, rashes, etc. It’s also worth checking that any of your existing kits are still in date and easily accessible.

“Perhaps also a cone/buster collar that’s the right size for your dog in case you need it in an emergency (e.g. something toxic on the foot that you don’t want them to lick off).”

Dog wearing buster collar for first aid
Image by Micah

It’s getting cooler now as we head into Autumn, but what should you do if your dog gets heat stroke?

“Firstly, you need to be able to recognise the symptoms of heat stroke because all dogs will pant when they’re hot. In heat stroke, the dog will have dark red and sticky gums, progressing to purple and blue in the later stages.

“They will be panting so much that they can’t swallow properly so they will also be drooling. The heart and breathing rates will be higher than normal. They may vomit. They may seizure or collapse. They are also likely to be wobbly and/or disorientated.

“So what you need to do is act quickly! Recognising the symptoms early is MASSIVE and gives the dog a far better chance of recovery. Start cooling the dog down but very gradually. Cooling them down too quickly can cause shock. Use tepid water (not cold) and get at the skin. Don’t put a wet towel on their back as it actually stops the hot air escaping. You can use cooling fans too and think about standing them on something cool.

“Don’t make them shiver – that indicates too much cooling too quickly. Once they start to recover you can offer them a drink but not too much in one go (they won’t be interested to start with). Then they have to be seen by a vet because of potential internal damage, especially the heart and lungs.

“Don’t forget dogs that are at a particularly high risk such as flat-faced/brachycephalic breeds, overweight dogs and very old or young dogs – be cautious in temperatures over 20°C.”

Brachycephalic Breed First Aid
Image by Amit Talwar

Why is it important to learn dog first aid?

“Firstly, you can’t call for an ambulance.

“Secondly, you might not have time to get to the vet (e.g. choking).

“Thirdly, dog first aid is different from human first aid. In some cases using human first aid techniques on a dog can be very dangerous.

“Finally (perhaps most importantly), they’re your fur baby – why wouldn’t you want to do your best for them? Under the Animal Welfare Act you actually do have a duty of care to ensure they are well looked after and not suffering.”

What are the most common types of dog first aid emergencies you have come across?

“When I hear back from people who’ve been on my training courses and gone on to be able to help a dog in a first aid situation, the most common ones seem to be bleeds and choking.”

Where can owners train in dog first aid in Sussex?

“I travel all over East and West Sussex, Brighton and Hove, delivering courses every weekend and sometimes more than one a week. There’s a full list of dates and venues on my Facebook page, or you can email or phone me of course. I offer training to private groups too, such as rescue centres, doggy day cares and groomers.”

What topics are covered on a dog first aid course?

“Lots! I squeeze as much as I can into the four hours! We talk about the role of the first aider, legalities, actions to take in an emergency, how to examine and assess a dog, how to check vital signs, CPR, seizures, bleeding, shock, GDV/bloat, burns, toxicity, heat stroke, choking, road accidents, and more.”

Do Dog First Aid Sussex offer online courses?

“Yes! I’m only doing one a month now. Some are a one four-hour course (like the in-person ones) and some are spread over three weekday evenings. I try to make the training as accessible as possible.”

How much does a course cost?

“£55 per person, or £50 for multiple bookings.”

You can find out more information about Dog First Aid courses in Sussex on Kathy’s Facebook page. Make sure to also check out other dog friendly related articles on our blog.

*Statista – stats as of September 2022

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