First Aid-Part 4 DOG BITES, STINGS AND STICKS!
If you love to enjoy the great outdoors with your dog, then these are some of the most common emergencies you should be aware of.
Occasionlly dogs have disagreements from time to time, usually because they are in a situation where they perceive there to be a threat from another dog. Most altercations are quick and are finished almost as soon as they start but occasionally things escalate into a more serious fight. .
If this happens it is important to remain calm and break up the dogs as safely possible without sustaining injury to yourself.
The majority of injuries in a dogfight are caused by the sharp teeth and the powerful jaws of the dog, which result in puncture wounds to the skin and crushing injuries to the soft tissues beneath it. Even if a wound looks mild, if its left untreated it may go on to cause infection due to the large volumes of bacteria found in the dog’s mouth. Penetrating wounds often need to be treated with antibiotics and anti-inflammatories to reduced swelling and infection.
In rare cases bite wounds can cause serious internal damage if the bite wounds are able to penetrate deeply. It is important to know that these wounds can also often be quite small and easily missed especially if your dog has a thick coat, so clipping fur away to check is sometimes required. If your dog sustains a bite injury from another dog it is always a good idea to seek veterinary attention.
In the warmer months vets tend to see a much larger number of cases of wasp and bee stings. These can cause local swelling in the area of the sting which will often be on the muzzle or head areas because dogs have disturbed the ‘stinger’ by nosing in bushes or flowerbeds.
If your dog is stung you may not need to see a vet if there is only minor irritation and the sting has been removed completely. Applying a paste of water and bicarbonate of soda is great at neutralising bee venom, and vinegar will neutralise a wasp sting. Ice packs will also help to reduce swelling and irritation.
However, these stings can be painful and in some dogs can cause an immune response, which results in an eruption of hives, which are raised bumps all over the body. In these cases your dog may benefit from seeing a vet so that they can be given medication to help reduce the swelling and inflammation. In rare cases anaphylaxis may occur which is a serious allergic reaction that can cause trouble breathing. In these cases urgent medical attention in required.
Whilst throwing sticks is certainly fun it can unfortunately result in nasty injuries and in extreme cases be life threatening. The injuries often occur when the dogs fall whilst carrying the stick and get part of the stick lodged in the soft tissues of the mouth or chest. Splinters of the stick can be really hard to find and can track through the soft tissues, carrying infection to different parts of the body.
These kinds of injuries can even occur whilst just chewing or carrying the sticks awkwardly. As well as splinters, another common injury is where the dog gets part of the stick stuck across the roof of the mouth. If your dog has been playing with sticks and suddenly yelps, whimpers or starts to salivate, paw at their mouth this may be an indication that they have injured their mouths or tongue. There may also be some bleeding, coughing or retching if a piece of stick has become stuck or lodged in the mouth. If there is ever any suspicion that your dog has injured themselves on a stick it is always advisable to see a vet as often splinters can track through the body if not removed quickly, causing far more damage and risk of major infection.
Thankfully many dog owners are now aware of the risks associated with sticks, and with the introduction of lots of new and fun catch and throw toys there are plenty of far safer alternatives.