Familiarizing Yourself with Fido First Aid

In This Chapter
  • Mastering first-aid facts and skills
  • Packing your first-aid kit
  • Looking at Bulldog injuries
  • Reacting in emergencies

Accidents happen, and you should always be prepared to help your Bulldog if he needs it. The odds are good that you won’t need most of the information in this chapter, but think of the facts as a safety net. (It’s nice to know that the net is there, even if you never need it, rather than not have it at all.) Discover common first-aid issues and what supplies you should keep on hand in case of an emergency.

Your dog may generally be healthy, but any dog can get ill or be hurt. With time and practice, you’ll soon be able to tell what is a minor problem that can wait or that you can treat yourself, and what needs an emergency run to the veterinarian or the nearest pet hospital. I personally am a member of the better-safe-thansorry club, and if there’s any doubt at all, we see our veterinarian. I’d rather pay for an unnecessary trip to the veterinarian than make the wrong decision and be sorry.


Your veterinarian isn’t always just treating your dog. With my first dog, I called the veterinarian much more than I do now. Once, when I had called after hours, my veterinarian said, “The dog can wait until morning, but can you?” He understood my concern and was willing to make the trip to his office to meet me if it would help me.

I’m better about emergency calls, but I’d rather err on the side of caution. For instance, if one of my dogs has a touch of diarrhea or has thrown up once or twice, I may just stop all food for a day and then feed cooked ground meat and rice for a day or two. The starch in the rice helps “dry up” the diarrhea, and the diet is bland, so it doesn’t further irritate the colon. This mixture usually does the trick, but if the diarrhea continues or vomiting lasts for more than 24 hours, I head to the veterinarian.

Keeping Your Kit Stocked: First-Aid Supplies

Many dog first-aid supplies are the same as human first-aid items, so one first-aid kit can work for both you and your Bulldog. Whether you have a separate first-aid kit for your dog or just keep supplies in a bathroom drawer, you should have some basic items available for emergencies. If you travel frequently with your dog, keep a few supplies in your car as well. At first glance, the following list looks daunting, but you probably have many of these items already. They just may not all be in one location. Centralize these items for your emergency kit:

Activated charcoal. Give orally if your dog has eaten something poisonous. The charcoal helps neutralize poison. Don’t mash up charcoal briquettes — they’re not the same thing. Check with your pharmacist for the proper kind of charcoal.

Adhesive tape and vet wrap. Vet wrap is sold in pet-supply catalogs, or your veterinarian can sell you a roll. The wrap holds bandages or splints in place and doesn’t stick to your Bully’s coat.

Antibiotic ointment. Use for scrapes or cuts.

Artificial tears. Apply to eyes for eye irritations.

Benadryl. This drug works for allergic reactions. Give 1 milligram per pound of body weight of your dog.

Children’s aspirin. Use for fever or pain. Give 1 tablet per 10 to 15 pounds of body weight.


Use only aspirin for your dog. Do not use ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Ibuprofen causes kidney damage and gastric ulcers.

Cotton balls.

Gauze. Roll of gauze and various sizes of gauze pads.

Hemostats and/or tweezers.

Hydrocortisone ointment. Apply to bug bites or rashes.

Hydrogen peroxide. Use it to clean and disinfect wounds. It may also be used to induce vomiting, so if you’ve got a large bottle of hydrogen peroxide, you can eliminate the syrup of ipecac.

Kaopectate. Helps control diarrhea. Give 1 teaspoon per 5 pounds of body weight every 1 to 3 hours.

Pepto-Bismol. Have your dog ingest to alleviate both vomiting and diarrhea. Give 1 teaspoon per 20 pounds of body weight every 4 hours.

Rubber gloves. Do I need to explain why?


Syringes. Stock 3-, 6-, and 12-centimeter syringes for administering medication. They come in cubic centimeters or milliliters.

Syrup of ipecac. Give by mouth to induce vomiting.


Vet’s phone number. An index card with your veterinarian’s phone number and the number of your local emergency clinic.

Veterinary first-aid manual.


If you prefer holistic medications, consider adding these items to your first-aid kit:

Aloe vera. Helps relieve pain and itching from hot spots, insect bites, and other skin irritations. Besides being nontoxic, should your dog try to lick the aloe off, it also has a bitter taste, so licking may be discouraged. Licking can slow healing.

Arnica gel. Use for sprains and bruises.

Calendula gel. Apply to scrapes and wounds. Promotes healing.

Cayenne pepper. Apply to the site of bleeding to stop blood flow.

Comfrey ointment. Use for minor scrapes and wounds.

Knowing the First-Aid Basics

Whether your Bulldog gets sick or injured, you should know some first-aid basics so you are prepared to deal with emergencies as they arise. Knowing how to take your dog’s temperature, for example, and knowing what is a normal temperature can help you determine whether your dog is ill. Here are some aspects of first aid that every Bulldog owner should know:

– Your Bully’s normal temperature should range from 100 to 102 degrees. If the temperature goes above 104 or below 100, call your veterinarian. Buy a rectal thermometer, and take your Bulldog’s temperature sometime when you don’t need to. Don’t be afraid to insert the thermometer; you can’t hurt anything. Your dog may not like it, but the process won’t hurt him.

– Practice taking your dog’s pulse. If you know how, if there’s an emergency, you’ll know just what to do and will be less apt to panic. Use the femoral artery on the upper rear leg, where the leg joins the body. Find the top bone — the femur — of your dog’s leg. Move your fingers forward, and you should be able to feel the artery. If you’re not sure or have trouble on your own, ask your veterinarian to show you during a regular exam. If your veterinarian helps you, make a note of what is normal for your dog so you’ll have a number for comparison in an emergency. The normal pulse rate for a dog is between 80 and 140, and the smaller the dog, the higher the number.

– When a Bulldog is hurt or frightened, he may snap blindly at any touch, even yours. With many dogs, a simple muzzle keeps you safe and makes treating your dog easier, but with Bulldogs, muzzles are not an option. Even if you can put one on a Bulldog, muzzles restrict breathing (especially if your Bully is injured).


The best alternative to the muzzle is a common blanket or newspaper wrapped around your dog. Have the wrapping extend beyond the dog’s head. This extension keeps your dog’s jaws away from you but won’t interfere with his breathing.

– If your dog’s injuries are severe, transport him on a blanket or a board, especially if you suspect damage to the spinal cord. Get help if you can, and try to shift the dog all at once onto the blanket or board. Call your veterinarian, and give her a brief description of your dog’s injuries.

– Any injury is scary, and you may want to get to the vet as fast as you can, but take the time to call the office and let them know that you’re on the way. You may think that calling the doctor’s office is a waste of time, but in fact, the phone call can save time. Your call gives the staff the lead time they may need to prepare for the emergency, and it lets them know just what type of problem they may be facing.


Consider taking a course in animal first aid. Many Red Cross branches offer such courses. Having some basic knowledge can help you aid your dog until you can get to your veterinarian’s office. Basic knowledge also helps keep you calm.


In an emergency, panic is a natural response, but you need to stay calm for the sake of your dog. The voices in your head may be screaming and telling you to hurry, but resist. Slow down. Take a moment to think about the best course of action. Improper handling and reactions can result in further injury to your dog. A vet once told me that the first thing to do in an emergency is take a deep breath. It’s good advice.

What To Do if Your Bulldog Gets Hurt

We don’t always act rationally or competently in an emergency. Knowing what may happen and the proper way to react can improve the odds on doing the right thing when our dog gets hurt. A head wound produces a lot of blood, but the wound itself may be superficial, is not the first thing to worry about. A broken bone can be ugly but won’t necessarily be life threatening. This section deals with possible problems from the most serious down to “not so bad.”

Handling injuries from auto accidents

Your Bully is not the fastest runner of all the breeds, but occasionally he may get out the front door or get loose from his leash, and the risk of getting hit by a car exists. You must remain calm in this emergency situation. Cuts and lacerations can look awful and produce a lot of blood, but they are likely to be the least life threatening. Ignore the blood, and focus on what is important.

Artificial respiration

First, check to make sure that your dog is breathing. If your Bully is not breathing, you need to start artificial respiration:
1. Extend your dog’s neck.
2. Clear any mucus from his mouth.
3. Pull his tongue forward.
4. Breathe into his nose, closing your mouth tightly over his nose.
5. Breathe for 3 seconds; rest for two.
6. Continue until your Bully is breathing on his own or until you get to the hospital.
You can also use the compression method of respiration, but beware of internal injuries. Place both your hands on your dog’s side, near the last ribs, and press down. Release quickly. Plan on 12 compressions per minute. If you have help, someone can drive you to the veterinarian’s office while you continue artificial respiration. Don’t want to use the compression method of artificial respiration. Stick with breathing through your dog’s nose.


After respiration, consider circulation. Your dog may be in shock. Shock is usually characterized by loss of blood pressure, diminished blood circulation, and inadequate blood flow to the tissues. Your Bully’s breathing can be shallow and irregular, and his pulse may be fast and faint. Pale gums, lips, and eyelids are signs of shock.
Your dog may also feel cool to the touch. Check his temperature. Wrap your Bully carefully in a blanket, jacket, coat, or even newspapers — anything to keep him warm.


Never use a heat pad or heat lamp to warm your dog, because if your dog is unconscious, he won’t be able to move away from the heat if he is too hot. Even if he’s not unconscious, if he’s in shock, his circulation is poor, and in both cases, the exterior heat source can cause burns.

Pale lips and gums may also be signs of major blood loss. Look for external wounds that may need a pressure bandage. If you don’t have a bandage, use a towel or, if necessary, your hand. Keep your dog in a horizontal position or elevate the hindquarters slightly.


A tourniquet stops blood flow, but because it does, the tissue below the tourniquet starts to die. Never use a tourniquet unless you are certain that without it, your pet will die. Tighten the tourniquet only enough to stop the bleeding, and get to the veterinarian immediately.

If you suspect that your Bulldog has sustained injury to his head, neck, or back, you must try to stabilize him:

– Try not to move him any more than is absolutely necessary.

– Slide him onto a board, a piece of cardboard, or a blanket.

– Try to move him all at once.

– Use gauze strips to secure your Bully to the board for the trip to the veterinarian.


Pantyhose work really well if you don’t have a roll of gauze.

Broken bones

Broken bones are likely if your Bully’s been hit by a car. If you think that your dog has a broken leg, try to splint it to hold it in place. There are several materials that work well as a splint:

1. Protect the leg with some kind of padding.
2. Use sticks or pieces of wood as your splint.
If wood is not available, roll a newspaper or a magazine around your dog’s leg.
3. Tie the splint in place with strips of gauze, vet wrap (if you have it), nylons, or a kneesock.
4. Extend the splint beyond the joints on either side of the break.
5. If the bone is protruding, don’t try to push it back into place.

a. Cover the protrusion with gauze.
b. Stabilize the area as well as you can.

6. Get your Bully to the hospital or vet.
If you think that your dog has broken or cracked ribs, bandage gently to help hold the ribs in place. The operative word is gently. You don’t want to restrict your dog’s breathing, which may already be labored.

Puncture wounds

If there’s a puncture wound or any kind of wound that penetrates the chest cavity, try to make it airtight. Plastic wrap or even a plastic bag is a good way to seal the area.
If whatever made the wound is still protruding from your Bulldog’s body, do not remove the object. Leave the foreign body in place, and let your veterinarian remove it. Pulling the object out can cause more damage and bleeding. Stabilize the object if you can so it doesn’t continue to injure your dog.

Eye injuries

Check your Bulldog’s eyes for signs of injury. Are there surface cuts or lacerations? If the eyelid is bleeding, use a gauze pad to gently hold the lid in place, but again, remember to be gentle. Too much pressure can cause more damage. If you see blood inside your Bully’s eyeball, proceed directly to a pet hospital or your vet’s office.
If your dog’s eye has actually come out of the socket, keep the eye moist during your trip to the vet. Use artificial tears, contact-lens fluid, plain water, or cod-liver or olive oil. Apply the liquid every 15 minutes.


Outward signs of injury may not be evident if your Bully gets hit by a car, but severe internal damage may be a problem. Even if your dog looks just fine, get to your veterinarian immediately!

Fighting doesn’t solve anything, boys!

A dog fight is generally more frightening than dangerous. Everything you read about fights tells you never to try to get between the dogs who are fighting, but in real life, people try to stop dog fights all the time. You can reach in and try to pull the dogs apart, but the odds are good that you’ll be bitten. In the heat of battle, even your dear, sweet pet can bite you. Try using different items to break up the fight:

A broom or broom handle. Use it to pry the dogs apart rather than hit them.

A chair. Again, use it to pry the dogs apart, and try to avoid hitting them.

A hose. Squirt the dogs with water.

If the dogs continue to go after each other, if you have help, you and the other person can each grab the hind legs of a dog and pull the dogs apart. You’re less apt to get bitten with this technique.
Puncture wounds are the most typical wounds you’ll see from a dog fight. Clean the wounds with hydrogen peroxide, but don’t bandage. Check with your veterinarian about getting an antibiotic. She may want to see your dog, or she may just give you the medicine. Either way, keep an eye on the wounds to make sure that they don’t get infected.


Dog fights can kill long after the fight is over. Sometimes the fight that leaves little bleeding is the most dangerous. A dog can suffer severe bruising and muscle damage without any real lacerations. Dogs sometimes die of shock or organ failure due to the damaged tissue’s breaking down and overwhelming the kidneys. Dogs can become critically ill hours later or even the next day. If the dog seems ill, depressed, or in pain, go to a vet immediately, or in the middle of the night, find a pet hospital.


Getting hit by a car is not the only way your Bully can become injured. Your puppy may like to stick his nose in every corner he finds, and eventually he may find the wrong corner and eat something he shouldn’t eat. You need to be ready to act to protect your Bulldog. The Cheat Sheet in this book contains information on stuff around the house that can poison your Bulldog, and removing these things from your home goes a long way toward keeping your Bully safe.
If you suspect that your Bulldog has been poisoned, don’t wait! Call your veterinarian, and tell her you’re on the way. If you know what your Bully ate, take some of it with you.
Signs of poisoning can be single or multiple. Watch for these symptoms that may indicate that your dog has been poisoned:
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive drool
  • Slow breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

Preparing yourself for natural disasters

Depending on where you live, you can experience many different natural disasters: hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, fires, or mudslides. Be prepared to leave your home for a few days. Follow these tips for preparing for and evacuation your house:

– Keep your dog’s crate fully assembled and ready to go. If you don’t keep a crate in the car, store your crate where you can easily get it in an emergency. Keep it by the door or in the carport or garage. Stuff a blanket in it or a few old towels.

– Make sure that your dog has identification on his collar and/or is microchipped. (See Chapter Bringing Your Bulldog Home.)

– Keep your dog’s lead handy, or carry a spare in the car. If you’re trying to get out fast, and you forget the lead by the door, the spare will be important.

– Have a supply of water. Two or three gallon jugs will keep you and your dog for a day or two.

– Have at least a 3-day supply of your dog’s food in a travel container. Rotate this food every month, or according to any expiration date on the packaging, so that it doesn’t spoil.

– Keep a copy of your dog’s vaccination records in the glove box of your car, including his rabies certificate.

– If your dog is on medication, make sure that you take it with you. _ Make a list of the things that your dog will need should you have to leave your home quickly. You may not be able to stock everything in the car or near the door, but a checklist reminds you of the necessities and helps you when you may be in a panic.

– Think about where your dog can stay if he can’t stay with you. If you have more dogs than your car holds, or you need to stay in a shelter that won’t allow you to have your dog with you, where can your dogs go? Make arrangements ahead of time with a friend or with a boarding kennel. Maybe your breeder will be able to take care of your Bully. If your local animal shelter is not threatened by the disaster, you may be able to leave your dogs there.

If the unthinkable happens and you must leave your dog behind, turn him loose. Don’t shut him in the house with no escape.
If you don’t know what your dog ingested, and your pup has vomited, take a sample of the vomit with you to the vet. If what your dog ate is a plant or a specific food, you can use hydrogen peroxide to make him vomit. Give 1 to 2 teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide every 5 minutes until your dog vomits.


Don’t try to make your Bulldog vomit if you don’t know what poisoned him or the poison is a caustic product. Many household cleaners contain ingredients that cause more harm when vomited. If you find your dog lapping up something he found under the sink, give him lots of milk or vegetable oil to drink. These products help dilute caustic substances and also coat the digestive tract until you can get to the vet’s.

If you’re unable to reach your veterinarian, there are places you can call for help. The National Poison Control Center of the ASPCA has two phone numbers in case your Bulldog has been poisoned. Have your credit card ready. Charges are assessed:

– Call (800) 548-2423. $30 charge.

– Call (900) 680-0000. $20 for the first 5 minutes and $2.95 for every minute over the first 5.

Charges are not assessed on follow-up calls for the same case.

Another number is the Pet Poison Helpline at (800) 213-6680. It charges $35.

Insect stings

We tend to think of poison as something that has been eaten, but insect and reptile bites and stings are also a type of poison. If you notice a lump that seems tender or looks like an insect bite, and your dog is showing any signs of illness, get to your veterinarian’s office immediately. If your dog’s breathing is affected, give an antihistamine, like Benadryl.


This injury poses the most threat when your Bulldog is a puppy and is always looking for something interesting to chew. If your dog, at any age, chews through an electrical wire, the possibility of electrocution exists.
Follow certain steps to protect your Bully and yourself from further harm if your dog has been electrocuted:

1. First, turn off the power, if that’s possible.

2. Use a wooden stick, like a broom or mop handle, to move your dog away from the source of electricity.


Do not, under any circumstances, touch the dog while he is still in contact with the wire. You risk getting electrocuted yourself.

3. Check for breathing.

 4. If your Bully is breathing on his own, get him to your veterinarian quickly. 

He may need to be treated for burns around his mouth and for shock, but one of the biggest threats is fluid buildup in the lungs, which needs immediate attention.

5. If your dog isn’t breathing, start artificial respiration, as described earlier in the chapter.


Bulldogs may enjoy water for cooling off, but most of them swim like rocks. If your Bully sinks, get him out of the water, hold him by the hind legs for about 30 seconds to drain water from his lungs, and then start artificial respiration.
Keep your Bully on a lead when you’re around bodies of water. If you have a pool, and it’s fenced, make sure your dog stays on the side of the fence without the water. If your Bully does have access to the pool, make sure there are steps or a ramp so that if your Bully falls in, he can get out on his own. Practice the escape route with him. If your dog likes the water, get in the water with him, and gently guide him to the steps or the ramp. Never leave your Bulldog in the pool area unattended. It takes only a minute for your dog to drown.


If your dog is choking, use the handle of a screwdriver between his back teeth to keep his mouth open and to prevent his biting you as you check his mouth and throat. He will not take kindly to your efforts, so if you’ve got someone who can hold the dog for you, have him do so. If you can reach the obstruction, use your fingers or a pair of needle-nosed pliers to grab and remove it. If you can’t reach the problem, try holding your dog by the hind legs and shaking. If that doesn’t work, use the Heimlich maneuver.

1. Make a fist.

2. Apply sudden, forceful pressure to the abdomen at the edge of the breastbone.

If this doesn’t dislodge the object after two or three tries, get to your veterinarian immediately. How much time you have depends on how large the object is and how much air it is cutting off. 

If you do manage to remove the object, your dog may have a sore throat for a couple of days, so switch to a soft food during that time. 

Suffering from heatstroke

Yes, heatstroke is discussed in Chapter Recognizing and Tackling Bulldog Health Issues and throughout other parts of the book. You are not hallucinating, and that sentence was not a typographical error. Heatstroke is a real threat to Bulldogs, and if you’re not reading this book straight through, I don’t want you to miss this information. Signs of heatstroke include
  • Temperature over 106 degrees
  • Panting and slobbering excessively
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Collapsing
  • Hot and dry skin
  • Pale lips

Try to cool down your Bulldog. Move him to a cool, shady area, and soak him with cold water. Move his legs gently to increase circulation. If he is alert and can drink, give him small amounts of water. Take his temperature every 15 minutes until it is below 103 degrees and stays there. In advanced stages, get your Bully to your veterinarian as soon as possible.

by Susan M.Ewing