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Aims and Rules of First Aid 

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First aid treatment is based on three aims and four rules.

The three aims are:

  • To preserve life
  • To prevent suffering
  • To prevent the situation deteriorating

The four rules are:

  • Don’t panic!
  • Maintain the airway
  • Control the haemorrhage
  • Contact the veterinary surgeon as soon as possible.


A wound is an injury in which there is a forcible break in continuity of the soft tissues.

Treatment of open wounds and abrasions:

The aims of treatments are:

  • To arrest haemorrhage
  • To treat shock
  • To prevent sepsis.

Controlling haemorrhage. Immediate steps must be taken to control any severe haemorrhage. Direct pressure must be applied to the area until medical attention can be provided by a qualified personnel. Blood that has clotted should never be removed by the person applying first aid as this will invariably restart the haemorrhage.

Removing the cause of injury. The cause should be removed where this is possible, particularly if it is likely to cause further damage or continuing pain. Superficial items such as traps, snares or fish hooks may be removed, but deeply penetrating foreign bodies should be left alone.

Always remember that even the friendliest pet may react aggressively out of panic and fear. Make sure you are extremely careful before dealing with their injuries (unless they are suffering from respiratory distress or unconscious). Even small rodents can bite quite badly in fear. In many instances, covering the animal's head and eyes with a towel can help to calm it. An animal in pain will not be thinking clearly and may not even recognise a familiar face, so always approach with caution.

Epileptiform fits

The animal having a fit collapses on to its side and goes into violent convulsions. Its legs are extended, its head pulled back and neck extended; there is involuntary champing of the jaws, which churns saliva into a foaming froth around the lips. Its eyes are open and stare fixedly. Most convulsions subside after 5-10 minutes but occasionally the dog will remain in a fit for hours, relaxing from one attack only to start shaking with the next fit.

Fit attacks represent gross over activity of the central nervous system `circuits’ and any extra stimulus usually only worsens the situation and prolongs the fit. During convulsions all attempts to prevent the dog from injuring itself should take place by carefully placing blankets around the animal.

In this situation the following steps should occur:

  1. Where ever the dog is fitting all precautions should be done to darken the room and noise kept to a minimum.
  2. You should stay in the room with the dog but no attempt should be made to touch the dog whilst it is in its fitting stages to prevent injury to yourself or the animal.
  3. If the fitting persists then you should contact the vets immediately after the convulsions have subsided.

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