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K9 First Aid

Never leave your dog in a closed vehicle, but you can use your vehicle to provide shade. Park your vehicle in the shade, if possible. If no shade is available, reflective mesh sun screens are available that provide shade and allow air through. Make sure there is plenty of air circulating through the vehicle. Open doors all the way, open tailgates, etc. Plug-in fans are available for vehicles.


Lighter colored vehicles reflect more sun than dark colored vehicles. Use wire crates. These allow better air circulation than the closed airline type crates. Keep fresh cool water available at all times.


If your dog wears a vest while working, make sure it is light weight or mesh fabric. Certain breeds are more sensitive to heat; such as obese dogs and short-nosed breeds (boxers, bulldogs, etc.

Be Prepared


As a SAR K9 handler, be prepared for accidents that may happen to your dog while out on a search. Attend a qualified Canine First Aid course and read up on Canine First Aid. Always bring a medical kit with you on searches, along with your vet's phone number, dog's medical history and the emergency vet clinic number nearest your search area.


During the search briefing be sure to ask if there are any known hazards in your search area, such as open wells, holes, wild animals, venomous snakes, traps, snares, etc. If you are searching a building, check for hazards first before entering with your dog. You should always have at least one flanker on a search to assist with the search but to also assist if your dog should get injured.


If your dog gets injured be sure to check the area for safety first prior to approaching your dog. Don't put yourself in danger also. Check what is around your dog such as poisonous materials, plants, or snakes (identify the snake if possible). Determine if the dog needs to be moved immediately to a safe area. Check your dog for any blood, vomit or feces; his breathing and or other sounds.


Remember these points: If your dog is not breathing, start artificial respiration. If there is no heartbeat or pulse, start CPR. Watch the video link on how to perform canine artificial respiration and CPR. CPR for dogs is often unsuccessful but attempting CPR may be your only chance to save your dog. For unconscious dogs or dogs found lying down after an accident, there may be spinal cord injuries, handle them carefully. Check that the airway is open. Wipe away any secretions from the mouth. Pull the tongue out slightly to make it easier for the dog to breathe.


Transport large dogs on a flat surface such as a human back board. Secure the dog to the back board to keep him from jumping off. Carry small dogs in a blanket with the injured parts protected. Wrap the dog in a coat or blanket to provide warmth and protect injured extremities. Control bleeding by placing a bandage on top of the wound and applying pressure. Give your dog nothing to eat or drink. Transport dogs with their heads lower than their hindquarters, which helps with breathing and maintaining blood pressure. Use a muzzle only for short periods, such as when moving the dog to a vehicle, or from the vehicle into the veterinary clinic. Muzzling can interfere with breathing in some cases and can cause problems if the dog has to vomit.


Speak to your dog softly and try to calm him down. Allow the dog to assume the most comfortable position he wants. When possible, splint or support any broken bones before moving the dog. Do not try to straighten the leg. Immobilize the leg in its current position. In cases of snake bites, try to keep the dog calm. Activity can cause the venom to spread faster. Identify the snake if you can. Do not cut the bite area or suck the venom out. Do not use ice or put a tourniquet on. The main thing to remember, stabilize your dog and get him to emergency veterinary hospital quickly.

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