First aid for dogs - would you know what to do?

Updated: Oct 27, 2021

A recent incident with my own dog Ruby has sparked inspiration for this blog as she decided to tare off her whole nail in the middle of a field!

I realised at that time that I was not prepared for minor injuries or emergency eventualities in the slightest! And it got me thinking, I wonder how many other leave first aid for their pets to chance or to the vet/ vet nurses.

Whilst first aid care is obviously no replacement for vet care it is what it says on the tin, 'first' aid - that initial managing of a situation until further advice/assessment/treatment can be sought.

So here are some essential pieces that you may need/ need to know in order to manage a minor injury and prevent that whopping vet bill for just a bandage!

Essential equipment:

Dressing pad - provides a sterile smooth surface against a wound.

Cotton wool roll - provides padding over a wound.

Bandage (stretch gauze) - protects the wound and can be used to apply pressure.

Vet wrap - holds the bandage in place and protects from dirt getting in.

Saline - salt and boiled water mixed to create a sterile solution.

Antiseptic solution - like Hibi scrub, cleans and disinfects a wound.

Tick remover - specifically designed tweezers to twist a tick safely out of the skin.

Cone/pet shirt or other - to prevent further damage, removal of dressings or licking to the wounded area.

How to bandage a foot:

  1. Wash and dab dry wounded area. Try and part any long fur or trim the area with scissors/clippers.

  2. Apply dressing pad (if open wound) with a little pressure if bleeding.

  3. Cover the whole dressing pad with the cotton wool roll and wrap around the limb.

  4. Cover the cotton wool roll with the bandage. It's best to start the bandage going down the leg and over the toe, then wrap around the leg. To cover the paw you can figure of eight over the toes to make sure they're covered.

  5. Do the same with the vet wrap, completely covering the bandage.


🩹 In the summer use minimal padding to prevent the foot overheating.

🩹 Change the dressing frequently to prevent rubbing, sores, overheating and to monitor any infection and healing.

🩹 To make sure you cover the whole foot go over the toe first the cross over underneath to do a figure of 8.

🩹 To make sure it's not too tight, pull off the vet wrap from the roll then set down on the foot. This prevent the bandage from applying tighter and tighter as you wrap it.

🩹 If you have a dog with a long nose or neck secure a rolled up towel snuggly round their neck instead of a cone! We use a hair turban for Ruby the mini dachshund.

🩹 Use a long sock, plastic bag or pair of tights to cover for long term use or when outdoors.

What to look out for:

Bleeding through - if you bandage is bleeding through take it off and apply more pressure. If the bleeding doesn't stop you can try 'quick stop' or cornflour before calling a vet for further assistance.

Too tight - you should be able to squeeze one finger down the bandage. It should be snug but not too tight as this will hinder circulation and healing.

Chewing - try and avoid your dog chewing any of the bandage as this can cause more damage and be a choking hazard. Cover the bandage with the tips above if they are unsupervised for any length of time.

Too hot - overheating can lead to further pain, inflammation and infection. Where you can leave the bandage off between changes to give the skin a chance to breathe. But watch out for licking!!