Downeast Dog News

First Aid for your Pup

Apr 01, 2021

Q. My dog and I were hiking, and he tore his toenail off. I had no idea what to do. I would like to be prepared next time. Can you give me some first aid tips?

A. Basic first aid is a must if you are dealing with your furry family. I will discuss basic first aid tips, but this does not take the place of calling your veterinarian, animal poison control, or ER.

Let’s start with the feet and skin. Torn toenails are common with our rocky terrain. Cuts from sharp rocks, pucker brush, and trash, or punctures from sticks and thorns are common. Some breeds have skin that tears easily. Using a product called Quick Stop will help stop the bleeding toenail or a small cut. After applying, place a sock or a small bandage to keep the injury protected. If the wound is bigger, place a snug bandage around the wound using any cloth you have at the time and go to your veterinarian or ER right away. Cuts and wounds on other parts of the body may be more difficult to bandage, but using vet wrap, ace bandage, and gauze can help protect the area. Putting a T shirt or boxer shorts on your dog will help your bandage stay in place and keep him from licking the area until you get help. If an area is dirty, you can clean it with a diluted hydrogen peroxide solution. Dilute the peroxide 50/50 with water. If you use it straight from the bottle, the cells trying to heal the area will be disrupted and healing will slow down. This goes for cleaning ears too. You can also use Dial soap which has great antiseptic properties.

With eye injuries, it is best to go to a veterinarian as soon as possible. If Fluffy got hit in the eye, use cold black tea as a wash and compress. The tannins will be soothing and help reduce swelling.

Cuts on the edges of ears bleed like crazy. Fold the ear over the top of the dog’s head and apply a scarf or bandana to put pressure on the cut. Then wrap another cloth around his head to hold it in place. This will keep the ear from flapping, which prevents the wound from bleeding.

Sticks are fun to play with but can get stuck in the mouth. When this happens and the stick is stuck on the roof of the mouth, use the handle of a spoon to slide between the roof of the mouth and the stick to pry it out. If the stick is between the teeth tweezers or needle nose pliers may be the ticket.

If you see your dog eat something he shouldn’t, such as medication or a toy, give him hydrogen peroxide to make him vomit. For other things, like plants and liquids, call animal poison control and your veterinarian for how to proceed. Some liquids and plants may do more damage if you make them vomit.

Here are two numbers you can call:

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435

Pet Poison Helpline at (800) 213-6680. Their website is At this number, you will be speaking to a veterinarian and there is a fee.

Both are available 24/7.

As always, when in doubt, call your veterinarian. Keep their phone number and the number of your closest ER in your phone.


Judith K. Herman DVM, CVH

Animal Wellness Center

Augusta, Maine