Posted 3 months ago
The demand for a dog has boomed over the last year, but whether you’re a first time owner or not, would you know what to do if your dog became ill or injured?
While vets are just a phone call away should we ever need them, as responsible dog owners there are things we can do ourselves to help keep our dogs safe and in good health.
But what are they?
Gemma Vale, franchise partner at Dogs First Aid Manchester, has been sharing her knowledge to owners and professionals in our region for the past two years.
She shared with us the five pieces of advice she’d give to all dog owners to help keep their pets safe.
1. Knowing subtle signs of illness
No one knows our dogs as well as we do and quite often we’ll pick up on changes in their behaviour which could indicate a problem, but Gemma told us there are some physical changes that could also be worth monitoring.
She said: “ Get to know your dog more personally by performing a weekly full body exam – know their gum and skin colour, their pulse rate, their respiratory rate and their temperature, at rest and after exercise.
“This will then help you to notice subtle signs of illness which promotes early diagnosis and treatment.”
2. First aid kit is a MUST
It may seem like an obvious one but who can honestly say they own one of these let alone carry it around with them?
Gemma said: “Always carry your first aid kit on you – it is no good looking pretty in a cupboard at home or in the glove box of your car when you are miles away on a long hike with your dog and they find themselves in trouble and needing first aid.
“Ensuring it is always on your person means you always have the tools available to help in a canine emergency.”
3. Know what is toxic to dogs
There are many things that us owners find delicious that are poisonous to dogs - chocolate, grapes, garlic, onions...but it’s not just food.
“Knowing what is toxic to your pet is very important must-know information, whether it be human foods, essential oils in a diffuser or even common garden and house plants – knowing what to avoid and how to act should your dog eat something he shouldn’t is extremely important,” said the Manchester first aider.
“It is good practice to also teach your dog a solid ‘leave’, to ensure they do not pick something up in their mouth that they are not supposed to have!"
4. Avoid using flexi/extendable leads near roads
Gemma advised: “The locking mechanism can fail, and/or the rope/tape can fray and snap. Save long lines and extendable leads for safe environments such as fields away from roads, beaches or open spaces away from any hazards.
“If you use a dog seatbelt in a car, ensure it is attached to a harness and not a collar.”
She also added: “Another handy lead tip is if you see an on-lead dog, do not allow your dog approach or interact. Recall your dog and give the on-lead dog plenty of space, unless you are told otherwise by the owner.
“Dogs can be on-lead for several reasons – they may be recovering from surgery, they may be nervous or fearful, they may be aggressive or reactive, or they may be in training.
“It is good etiquette to respect an on-lead dog’s space by not allowing your dog to go over uninvited.”
5. Dog first aid skills
Gemma’s final piece of advice was for dog owners to familiarise themselves with some potentially life-saving skills by attending a first aid course.
She said: “Come along and join a dog first aid course where you can learn how to confidently act should your dog ever find themselves in an emergency.”
Topics covered include:
- Full body exam
- Dog fights
- Eye injuries
- Burns and scalds
She added: “The course is CPD accredited and is an investment in your dog’s care. At the end, you will receive a certificate that is valid for three years.”