Section Two -Major Emergencies - Part two

Electrocution

This is most often encountered when puppies chew through electrical wires. It is VERY important to not put yourself at risk. You should turn off the electricity at the mains before you try to help your pet whenever possible. It may be possible to separate your pet from the electricity using a wooden pole, for example, a broom handle, but be extra careful when there is water around.

Milder cases often will get burns in their mouth which will only become apparent after several days, when you may notice a foul odour coming from their mouth.  There is little that you can do, they basically need time to heal. Encourage your dog to eat and drink during this time by offering them things you know they particularly like. Some, more severe cases may need antibiotics and/or pain relief from your vet.

 

More severe cases can develop breathing problems due to the accumulation of fluid in their lungs. This can take up to 2 days to develop. It is a good idea to have your pet checked over by the vet following electrocution as they can detect heart rhythm and lung problems early.

Heat Exhaustion

This most commonly occurs when a dog is left in a car, which quickly becomes too hot. As dogs rely on losing heat through panting, when the humidity in the car rises it becomes increasingly difficult for the dog to prevent overheating.

 

This is an emergency. If the dog is in a car he/she needs to be removed from the car as quickly as possible. However, if you break a window you are liable for the damage to the car. A police officer can, however, do this, Dialling 999 is the best thing to do.

 

Once the dog is out of the hot area it needs to be cooled quickly. Applying water to the dog’s coat is a very effective way to allow them to cool down. Lukewarm water is best as cold water can be too much of a shock. Applying a fan to the animal will also help.

 

Wet towels can be useful but they need changing as soon as they become warm, otherwise, they will retain heat rather than help lose it. 

 

Once the dog stops panting you have probably cooled it enough. These dogs need to go to a vet as soon as possible. Dogs with hyperthermia will rapidly go into shock – any delay over 90 mins will seriously reduce their chances of survival. 

 

Choking - Foreign Body

Foreign objects stuck in the throat – balls can get stuck in a dog’s throat and obstruct the airway. This is an acute emergency. An animal can only survive for approximately 4 minutes without breathing so you need to act rapidly. Do not put your hand into the dog’s throat as they are likely to be panicking and may well bite you and you can actually push the ball further down.

If your dog is small enough pick it up by the back end and slap it hard on the back.

You can attempt to push the ball out putting pressure on the throat from the outside as shown in this photo opposite or you can perform the equivalent of Heimlich’s manoeuvre – if your pet is standing, stand over him/her facing towards his/her head; put your arms around the belly;  put your hands together to make a fist and place the fist behind the last rib; perform abdominal thrusts by pushing up and in with your fist quickly 5 times. (see video below) Check the dog’s mouth to see if you have caused the object to be coughed up and remove it if you can. Again be careful not to get bitten.

Opening the jaw to check for a foreign body can be difficult, especially if the dog is still conscious and struggling. It is usually easier to pull down the lower jaw from the front rather than from the side or lifting the skull up. Once the lower jaw is pulled down the head can be lifted to gain better access. 

If the dog has a partial airway and breathing you need to make a decision as to whether to remove the object or not. If the object is likely to cause bleeding or further damage do not remove it. Support the animal and allow the partial airway to function as long as the animal is remaining conscious and breathing and transport to the nearest vet.