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Warm Weather First Aid Tips for Dogs

Do you know first aid tips for dogs?

One Summer morning, two frisky Cockapoos were playfully exploring their fenced yard when Rudy caught Abigail off guard and bounded at her from behind the rose bushes.  As Abby took a tumble landing dazed and confused, a bee flew passed her.  The twosome, quickly distracted by this new found fun, attempted to play a game of pounce with the tiny buzzing creature.  Fun did ensue for a few moments, but it then turned nasty as the bee planted his stinger right onto the tip of Rudy’s nose!  The pup pawed furiously at his face, and as it began to swell, Rudy started looking more like a bulldog than a fluffy canine!


Dogs generally paw at and remove the insect’s stinger, but should you see one through your pooch’s fur coat (or on his nose, lip, paw or elsewhere), scrape it away with a credit card, popsicle stick or similar stiff object.   Pulling the stinger with fingers or tweezers could rupture the poison sac allowing the toxin to enter your pet’s body.  Administer 1 mg Benadryl per pound of your dog’s body weight (usually comes in 25mg tablets so a smaller half will suffice for most kitties) and apply a cold pack (a bag of frozen peas works well) to any swelling.  Should severe swelling or any breathing difficulties develop, get to your Veterinarian at once as if the pet goes into anaphylactic shock (a severe allergic reaction), professional medical treatment is needed.

Holding an injured or ill dog for medication or treatment is not always an easy chore. Restrain your best friend by shooing him into a bathroom so that you have control of the situation in a small room that has necessary supplies.  You may try to swaddle small dogs in a towel to safely hold, but it’s nice to have a second pair of helping hands with larger fellows – one to hold the back side while you examine the sharp end!  Any time an animal is in pain, there is potential for a bite, so having a properly fitting muzzle is a good idea because once you are bitten, it becomes a human first aid incident, and the dog won’t get the prompt care he needs.

“Don’t wish you HAD learned Pet First Aid” was one of the first quotes I received from a student after taking my Pet First Aid Class, and it says it all!  I’ve now had the privilege of teaching more than 10,000 humans what to do (and millions more on national television segments), but there is always something else to learn in regards to the health and welfare of your furry best friend.  Don’t wait until tragedy strikes before you learn animal life-saving skills.  Nine out of ten dogs are likely to experience an emergency at some point in their lives, and according to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), 25% more could be saved if their humans attempt even one first aid technique BEFORE getting them to veterinary care.  Pet First-Aid is the first thing we do in a line of medical treatments to limit pain and prevent further injury.  It is by no means a replacement for your veterinarian, yet by knowing what to do at the time the injury takes place, you can lower body temperature, prevent blood loss, alleviate choking, induce vomiting in poisoning incidents or perform rescue breathing and CPR.

Adminster meds to a dog


The enticing smell of a summer time barbeque may be hard to pass up, but it is best to stick to your dog’s normal diet to avoid intestinal issues.  For upset tummies, administer 1 teaspoon of Mylanta® (other brands may contain too my salicylic acid – aspirin) through a needless syringe or eyedropper, for every 10-15 lbs. your pet weighs.  Withhold food to let her stomach rest, but keep water readily available to prevent dehydration.   If blood is present in vomit or diarrhea, or if these are symptoms of an illness or obstruction, seek immediate veterinary care.

If your dog has swallowed a food item that she should not have (any non-caustic poison that doesn’t burn the esophagus), induce vomiting by administering 1 Tablespoon 3% Hydrogen Peroxide for a 10-15 lbs cat onto the back of her tongue.  If this doesn’t cause her to vomit within 30 seconds to 5 minutes, seek immediate veterinary care.

Keep feet cool


Heat Stroke is a life-threatening emergency that requires veterinary treatment. The goal is to remove the animal from the source of the heat, prevent internal body temperature from continuing to rise and transport to a veterinarian as quickly as possible. Pets don’t sweat to regulate their body temperatures (normally 100.0°F – 102.5°F).  They release heat through their tongue, nose and foot pads.  Dogs pant to exchange cooler outside air with the warm humid air in their lungs while cats don’t usually pant until they are overwhelmed by the heat.  If the outside air isn’t cooler than an animal’s body temperature, the animal can succumb to Heat Stroke. Without prompt attention, Heat Stroke can result in brain damage, kidney failure, cardiac arrest and death.  Older and overweight pets as well as short-nosed breeds are at the greatest risk.

Preventive Measures:

  • Walk dogs during the cooler parts of the day and stick to shady areas and grass.  Even beach sand can burn paws and make a canine body too hot!
  • Always make sure pets have a supply of cool fresh water.  If that outdoor water bowl has become a bird bath, is empty or is sitting in the blazing sun, it is not a good source of hydration for Fido!
  • Make sure dogs in fenced yards always have shade to retreat to.  Notice the situation at different times of the day and year to make sure the shade cast by your lovely backyard tree isn’t only on the other side of the fence in the neighbor’s yard leaving your dog in the hot sun.
  • NEVER leave a dog in a parked car for even a moment.  If he can’t get out with you at every stop, he is better off home in a temperate environment.
  • Get to know your groomer!  Blow drying animals in a well-ventilated area is important to their health, and cage dryers (big boxes containing your pet into which air is forced to dry them) must be carefully monitored, so choose a groomer you know has your pet’s best interest at heart.
  • Pay particular attention to senior, over-weight and brachycephalic (flat faced) pets who have more difficulty breathing even at comfortable temperatures.

Signs & Symptoms include:  heavy panting, gasping, vomiting (if not yet dehydrated), foam around the mouth, weak or high pulse, inability to drink, bright red or suddenly bluish gums and loss of consciousness.

What to do:

  • Move pet to a cooler environment.  Indoors is best with a cool fan blowing on your pet but even a shady sidewalk or grassy area can help.
  • Wet the animal with room temperature water (not ice as it restricts blood flow). Think “From the paws up!” getting the skin on the paws, pits, groin and belly skin cooled is most effective in quickly cooling your pet.  Water often skids off fur on breeds with undercoats and does not cool skin when applied to their back.
  • If you place your dog or cat into a tub or pool, do not let the water rise higher than the belly.  Immersing him to the neck will cause him to cool too quickly resulting in hyperthermia.
  • Rubbing alcohol or witch hazel wiped onto the inner flaps of the ears and pads of the feet has an amazing cooling effect. Do not however douse an animal with an entire bottle of rubbing alcohol. This could cause a sudden change in body temperature and result in Shock.
  • Placing a cool pack (or bag of frozen peas) on dog or cat’s neck and groin can prove helpful in cooling him off as the cooled blood flowing through those arteries cools the rest of the body.  Remove pack every few minutes to make sure you don’t cause frostbite to animal’s tissue.
  • Never force pet to drink as he could aspirate fluid into his lungs. Dribble a little water from an eye dropper or spray bottle to keep him hydrated.  At the Veterinarian’s office, fluids will likely be administered subcutaneously (under the skin or intravenously).
  • Check your pet’s temperature and if it is 104°F or higher, get to the Veterinarian immediately!   Wrap animal in wet sheet or towel, turn on car air conditioning and drive quickly but safely.
  • If pet goes unconscious, rub a little honey or Karo Syrup® on his gums to increase blood sugar level, and be prepared to administer CPCR.
  • If the pet cools too quickly and temperature drops to 100°F, cover him with a blanket and place a 2-liter bottle filled with warm (not hot) water next to him as you transport him to the Animal ER.

Fortunately for Rudy, his human knew exactly what to do to alleviate pain and swelling from his bee sting because she bones up on her Pet First-Aid skills every few years.

Do you? In addition to knowing what to do, you must learn the location of your nearest Animal ER and have an up-to-date Pet First-Aid Kit for your pooch.  Weekly perform a Head-to-Tail check-up of your dog feeling for lumps and bumps, noticing the condition of his skin and coat and making sure no unusual odors or discharges are coming from any body part.  By getting to know your pet from head-to-tail and what is normal for your individual dog, you will more quickly notice something ‘not quite right’ and get him the help he may desperately need.

Denise FleckFor 16 years Denise Fleck’s Sunny-dog Ink motto has been “Helping people to help their pets,” and she has…teaching more than 10,000 pet lovers animal life-saving skills and millions more on national television segments, yet better pet parenting is still a secret in many communities.  Therefore, in her 2016 role as Pet Safety Crusader™, Denise will journey across the Southern U.S. beginning September 15th to “Be the one who makes a difference” by helping large numbers of people help their pets in one concerted effort!  Pet First Aid classes, Pet Disaster Preparedness training and readings of her children’s books will be part of the fun as she travels 10,000 miles in 49 days to 16 cities — from California to Florida, north to Virginia, across to Tennessee, down to Arkansas and back across the Southwest.  Super hero sponsors are needed to be the ‘wheels beneath her RV.’ Learn more about this epic adventure, Denise’s line of Pet First-Aid Kits, books and instructional posters at www.sunnydogink.com


Fidose note: Always talk to your dog’s veterinarian for any assistance or questions with medicine or before administering medication you have not used under a veterinarian’s care prior.


To help keep dogs safe, Fidose of Reality has teamed up with Denise Fleck to give away a copy of her  book, The Autumn & Winter of Your Pet:  Make Those Senior Years Golden and her Dog First Aid and CPR pocket book

US only, 18 and older, enter through this easy form:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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  1. I love every one of my dogs and cats more than words can say. A little over a year ago, I had five dogs and three cats. I lost my very special, sweet, deaf hound girl, Ran, last year in April. She was only five and it was far before her time. She got sick the beginning of last year and was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder. I lost her on April 20 of last year. Then, I lost my senior Coonhound girl, Suki, exactly one year later. My senior Maine Coon, Koneko, pass suddenly and unexpectedly in February. I now have three Treeing Walker Coonhounds – Kenji, Kyoko, and Seiji – and all are in the 5-7 year-old range, so they will all be reaching the age when I’ll have to worry about senior dog issues about the same time. That worries me.

    1. Dear Linda,
      Sorry to hear about the furry family members that are no longer in your household, but do remember that each one leaves a unique set of paw prints on your heart that can never go away 🙂 Over the years I have adopted a lot of seniors — guess that’s my soft spot, and am devastated with each good-bye. The only way I’ve reconciled myself to their shorter lives is that is gives me the ability to love and care for more of these special creatures during my life time. Continue to make special memories with the ones you now have and cherish the memories of all. Woofs & wags! — Denise

  2. Important post for sure. Us Frenchies really need to be aware of the heat.
    Lily & Edward

  3. Lily & Edward, you are right! Frenchies and many other brachycephalic breeds are born with adorable but flat faces and thus have shorter nasal passages leading to breathing difficulties. But…you are aware so stay in the shade, stay at a good healthy weight, exercise regularly and make sure you read those pet food labels for quality protein and other ingredients. Also makes sure your mom or dad does a weekly head-to-tail check-up on you so that any problems can be caught early and brought to your veterinarian’s attention! Paws crossed for a long and healthy lifetime ahead! — Denise

  4. I really need to get a pet-first aid kit for Sosa. It never really crossed my mind since we are usually home-bound, but we will be traveling more and it is better to be safe than sorry.

  5. i have 3 gals that i love dearly. Evie is almost 15 yrs old and has lots of health issues. Tressa and Harley are 6,5 and 1st cousins. so Evie is still my baby and my sweet pea.

  6. Heatstroke is definitely something I watch out for with our dog. He’s a 200lb St Bernard and gets oveheated really easily during the warmer months!

    1. Hey Jessica,

      How do you typically know if your dog is about to overheat? What are you looking for?

  7. what great tips you have given – so thankful to know what to do in terms of heat stroke since the summer months are upon us – I would have thought to cool the whole body instead of partial – great tip! thanks

  8. You’ve put some very smart things here for people to learn and remember. I agree about bites. It’s very possible if an animal is hurt, so you do have to take care.

  9. All of these are great tips for our furry friends. Thanks for always sharing the best info when it comes to pets!

  10. Great things to think about this summer with dogs. I worry about cold, but I hadn’t stopped to think of what the heat might do.

  11. Bringing water is key, especially for older dogs. I actually just started using a mister as well for my 13 year old cocker spaniel and it really helps her out. I try to avoid taking her on walks if it’s too hot or sunny out but during the early morning or evening she seems to be ok. The best thing I do is to just take it easy and as soon as my spaniel wants to sit or lay down in the shade I know that the time is up, her energy is gone and it’s time to head back to the car.

    Anyway, really practical and helpful info in this post. Definitely going to refer back to it once it starts to heat up some more!

  12. Hudson. He was a Sheltie, and my best friend. I love him more than everything. He passed in 2014. We now have another Sheltie who I love, named Pepper. He just turned 1 year in March!

  13. Coco is my dog that I love dearly and she hates the heat. She loves to stay in the air conditioning all the summer long! I do put her in the pool for a bit to get her some exercise though but she’s not a big fan of the pool.

  14. My baby girl Rozy Nozy. She passed away 2 years ago, but is forever in my heart. She was my first Boston Terrier, and I have 3 more at home now!

  15. Good advice for all….
    Summerdog is my current companion and is loved dearly. All my past dogs have been the “apple of my eye” and so I can’t limit my love to just one….

    Have a great Summer.

  16. Riedi & Margi are my kids. They are both family names (because they’re family)! You can imagine when I told my mom she had a granddog named after her side of the family!

  17. Great information for keeping our friends safe! Thanks! I have a 17 year old spaniel mix, named Kandy. who I love dearly. She is such a wonderful dog and such a joy 🙂

  18. Thanks for sharing this super helpful information! I’m pinning this so I can share w/ others & always refer back to it. Thanks!
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  19. Hi Densie,
    Thanks for the wonderful and easy first-aid medications for pets. I do own a Shih Tzu which is one of the best companions I ever had in my life till now. I am not 50, just 20, but the years spent with dogs are equal to my lifespan. The pet care arouses right from my parents and they had taught me a little of first-aid. I would offer a glass of water to my doggy when she eats a pack full of popcorn or potato chips and it helps her digestion. If there are ingestion of some toxic substances, then with glass of water, I would add a tablespoon of activated charcoal to my Shih to induce vomiting. These tricks have saved her from grapes and raisins, as well as apple seeds. Thanks for sharing more easy first-aid medications. Will make a note of it for future reference Densie!

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