The pup below had to be taken to the vet when it broke its leg but there are ways you can prepare for emergencies and first aid can often save life.

phoebe leg

1. Keep the name, address and telephone number of your vet next to the phone.

2. Keep a pen and paper by the phone to take down instructions if necessary.  Maybe your vet uses a locum and you need that telephone number and directions to the surgery.

3. Make sure all the numbers are stored in your mobile phone.

4. Phone your vet before making an emergency visit.  Maybe they can give help or advice over the phone.  It may also help them to prepare for an emergency if they know you are coming and you will be certain there will be someone there when you arrive.

5. Keep a Pet First Aid Kit at home and take a basic one when you are travelling.

The normal temperature of a dog is about 38.6 degrees C (101.4 degrees F).  Ask your vet or veterinary nurse to show you how to take your dog’s temperature.

The normal heartbeat of a dog at rest is between 90 and 100 beats per minute and it may be possible, with practice, to feel the pulse on the inside of a hind leg.

First Aid Kit
A suggested first aid kit:

  • Disposable latex gloves
  • Bandages – co-hesive, open weave and crepe
  • First aid tape - both Micropore (easily comes off the skin) and adhesive types
  • Sterile dressings
  • Cotton wool
  • Swabs
  • Clean pieces of sheeting
  • Tweezers
  • 5" flat scissors with round ends
  • Syringes (without needles) that can be used to give liquid medicines or water
  • A rug or blanket that can be used as a stretcher
  • Rectal thermometer
  • Styptic powder or sticks, Kwik Stop, or cornstarch  to help to stop bleeding if you catch the quick when cutting your dog’s nails.
  • Salt to make a saline solution.  This is a perfect solution for cleaning most wounds.  Make up the solution by dissolving 1 teaspoon of kitchen salt in 1 pint of warm water. When using make sure it is at room temperature to clean cuts, abrasions, rashes etc.
  • Thornit canker powder-follow the instructions on the pamphlet.
  • A dusting powder to dry out slow healing wounds.  Weleda make a homeopathic one based on arnica and calendula.
  • Hypercal (hypericum and Calendula) This is a homeopathic cream found in any good chemist and excellent for shallow cuts and abrasions where the skin is broken.
  • Arnica tablets.  A homeopathic remedy ideal for bruises.
  • Pill Crusher to help any tablets go down. They can be crushed and then mixed with a favourite cheese or liver pate.
  • Tick Remover:  It is possible to buy a special gadget to remove ticks.  It is important that the head is removed otherwise an infection may flare up. 
  • Veterinary Grade Manuka Honey can be bought easily on the internet and is invaluable as an antibiotic and antiseptic. The main worries are how to stop everywhere getting sticky or for it to be licked off, so a little ingenuity might be needed on your part before you use it.

Anal Glands:  Some dogs need to have their anal glands emptied regularly as they become full and will become impacted and possibly inflamed.  Usually the dog “scoots” on its backside or continually tries to bite itself.  Your vet will empty the glands or ask him to show you how to do it.  Beware though, the anal secretion is very smelly.

Cocker Mouth:  On the outside of the lower jaw the skin is creased which allows bacteria to flourish, so wiping with saline solution can keep the area clean and sweet smelling.  If it gets infected it may be known as Cocker Mouth as Cocker Spaniels seem to suffer from this a lot.

Coughing:  Although this could be caused by a number of reasons it may be a symptom of Kennel Cough which is highly infectious and needs veterinary treatment.  Youngsters and oldies seem to be most at risk but if left untreated it can be serious for all dogs. 

Cut Pads:  Dogs often seem to cut their pads and unfortunately they cannot be stitched and will take time to heal.  Keeping the wound clean is important so use saline solution and then Hypercal or dusting powder. Keeping the foot dry and clean is a major problem during exercise so bandage the foot and use an old sock for protection, though it is possible to buy specially made protective bootees. 

Eyes can be cleaned by dropping a couple of drops of saline into them.  If you tip the head back then the drops will stay in the eye and not run out.  Alternatively you can dip cotton wool in the solution to clear away “sleepy dust”.  However, in many cases veterinary advice should be sought.

Split Tails:  Setters sometimes get split tails by wagging them against hard surfaces such as walls.  If this happens the damage can be cleaned and bandaged although you may find the dressing comes off very quickly.  Practice makes perfect. 

Stings:  Usually these don’t cause any problems but occasionally a dog can be allergic to them and then veterinary attention is needed as it is when the sting is inside the mouth which may cause swelling.

The Setter in the picture is wearing an Elizabethan Collar which is used by vets to stop a dog scratching its head or trying to remove stitches.  Different dogs can react in different ways at first, but as you can see, they usually get used to them.


Sometimes you have to be inventive. The old lady below had an abscess on her shoulder which needed to be kept clean.

Cassie T shirt



Please remember it is important that you contact your vet if you are concerned in any way about your pet’s health.