Skip to content

How to Administer Emergency CPR to Your Dog

July 11, 2013

In summer, many people are more active with their dogs and with this increased activity, there is also an increase in the possibility an emergency situation. Learning how to give emergency CPR to a dog, treat heat stroke, sunburn and adminster first aid in many emergency situations could potentially save your dog’s life.  If you dog cannot breath, if he has been injured or drowned and is not breathing, emergency CPR either mouth to mouth or with crest compression could mean the difference between life and death until you get him to a veterinarian.


Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is the simulation of vital functions. You do for your dog what he cannot do for himself – breathe and pump blood. You must compress the heart and lungs to make them perform their vital function.

Causes: Serious bodily injury.

Signs: Dog not breathing, gums purple, dog out.

Prevention: Accident avoidance. Vigilant attention to your pet and his surroundings.

Treatments: Immediate care is necessary to save the dog’s life.

     Begin chest presses (CPR-1) every five seconds for one to two minutes. If gums do not turn pink, attempt mouth-to-nose (CPR-2) for one to two minutes. If there is still no response, perform massage in addition to mouth-to-nose breathing (CPR-3).

CPR-1 – Chest Presses

Push in on the chest at five-second intervals to assist breathing (contraindicated with penetrating chest wounds, broken ribs, and any other significant chest trauma).

Note: One quick chest press can clear an obstructed airway and should be done before attempting mouth-to-nose respiration.

Place your dog on his side and stimulate his inner nostrils with a cotton swab or a stem of clean, smooth grass. This may initiate a sneeze followed by breathing. If not, gently grasp and pull out his tongue, checking his mouth for foreign bodies and color. Begin chest presses to compress the lungs and stimulate reflexive breathing. Slowly depress the chest for one second, release, and allow three or four seconds for the chest to expand and inhale air. Repeat presses every five seconds for one to two minutes. Stop occasionally to observe if breathing has spontaneously resumed. Monitor the color of the gums and tongue. A return to pink is a sign of recovery.

Feel for the heartbeat in the lower anterior chest between the dog’s elbows. If present and the gums remain pink, continue chest presses until dog regains consciousness or breathes on his own. If there is no response in two to three minutes, administer mouth-to-nose resuscitation (CPR-2).

To perform chest presses, place your dog on his side and use your open hand to "breathe" the chest. Press air out and then allow air to reflexively flow back in. Repeat.

To perform chest presses, place your dog on his side and use your open hand to “breathe” the chest. Press air out and then allow air to reflexively flow back in. Repeat.

CPR-2 – Mouth-to-Nose Resuscitation

Firmly grasp your dog’s tongue and pull it out. (You can use a clean rag for traction if one is handy.) Look and explore for anything that may be lodged in the throat or mouth, obstructive or otherwise. Attempt to remove anything that might be present.

With a brisk chest press (CPR-1), clear the airways.

If  (a) nothing is expelled and the gums remain purple, (b) no heartbeat is felt, or (c) the dog is still unconscious, begin mouth-to-nose resuscitation.

Clasp your dog’s mouth with your hand and cover his nostrils with your lips. Blow in for one second, gently at first; release; after a second, push lightly on chest to assist exhalation. Repeat until gums become pink and the dog begins breathing on his own. Feel for a heartbeat; if heartbeat is present, continue until the dog is able to breath on his own and his gums become pink. If there is no heartbeat, begin heart massage (CPR-3).

Mouth-to-nose resuscitation will be necessary if chest presses do not revive your dog.

Mouth-to-nose resuscitation will be necessary if chest presses do not revive your dog.

CPR-3 – Heart Massage

When there is still no heartbeat and no pink gums in response to mouth-to-nose breathing, start heart massage and continue mouth-to-nose resuscitation. Squeeze the heart with your fingers placed between the dog’s elbows. Use firm, repetitive one-second bursts to pump blood.

Continue mouth-to-nose resuscitation.

Use chest presses to assist exhalation of the air you have blown in. If you are alone, alternate mouth-to-nose with heart pushes, with the pattern of one force breath,  five heart pumps.

Repeat for ten minutes or until breathing and heartbeat are restored.

If the dog's heart has stopped, place your hand around his chest between his elbows, and massage the heart to pump blood through his body.

If the dog’s heart has stopped, place your hand around his chest between his elbows, and massage the heart to pump blood through his body.


Fish Hooks

Causes: Fishermen and fisherwomen who are careless about their casting techniques, improper storage of hooks.

Signs: Hook embedded in the skin or mouth.

Prevention: Do not leave hooks about, especially hooks baited with liver for catfish.

Treatment: Have an assistant restrain the dog with a half nelson stretch. Hook removal hurts the dog, so be sure he is properly restrained before starting.

Wash your hands and disinfect the area.

If the hook enters and exits the skin and the barbed portion is visible beyond the exit area, clip the barbed portion off with wire cutters and roll the hook out from its entry wound.

If the barbed portion is imbedded in flesh, tie or loop a strong line around the bend in the hook. Press down on the eye of the hook, and give the line one hard yank away from the entry site. Alternatively, hemostats can be used to grasp and remove the hook, but this can be a slower, more painful process.

If several attempts are unsuccessful or the dog resorts to biting you, abandon the attempt and head to the vet.

Line or Wire Encirclage

     Encirclage is the wrapping of line or wire around a limb, or occasionally the neck, of a dog. Sometimes line wrapped around limbs is hidden in the hair or becomes imbedded in the flesh before anything is noticed. Limping and swelling becomes apparent when the line tightens. Exercise can worsen the condition and cause theline to become further imbedded.

Causes: Fishline or wire that wraps around limb or neck. Collars that shrink or become too small for growing dogs can create neck sores.

Signs: Limping. Swelling of affected limb. A bad smell is sometimes the first sign of encirclage.

Prevention: Do not leave hooks or line unattended or baited.

Treatment: Restrain your dog and attempt to lift the wrapped line away from the body with tweezers, hemostats, scissors or a barbless dulled fish hook. Clip or untie the line and remove it. Clipping the hair, cleaning the area, and soaking may facilitate locating and cutting the string. After the line is removed, flush and soak the area. Rest the dog. If swelling persists or the dog has no feeling below the encirclage, seek veterinary treatment.

Caution: Do not pull on a swallowed fish-hook line or cut all of the line away. If the hook and/or line are swallowed, it is very unlikely you will be able to successfully or safely remove it. Prevent your dog from eating anything and seek veterinary care.

Fish hook removal - dog gently but firmly restrained. 1. Apply line to curve in hook. 2. Keep gentle tension on original line to stabilize the hook. 3. Pull applied line with a quick jerk to dislodge imbedded hook.

Fish hook removal – dog gently but firmly restrained.
1. Apply line to curve in hook.
2. Keep gentle tension on original line to stabilize the hook.
3. Pull applied line with a quick jerk to dislodge imbedded hook.


Heat Stroke

Causes: Overexertion in hot weather for obese, aged, inexperienced, metabolically diseased, or under-conditioned dogs.

Signs: Weakness, refusal to continue exercise, inability to move, frantic panting, bright red tongue, muscular weakness, collapse. Severe signs include paralysis, bloody diarrhea, unremittent panting, and glassy eyes.

Prevention: Allow for plenty of rest and fluids in hot going. Gradually condition and accustom your dog to arid conditions.

Treatment: Reduce your dog’s temperature by bathing him in cool water and evaporating the water with cool air. Provide shade. Monitor the dog’s temperature and other vital signs. If the vital signs deteriorate, it may be necessary to submerge him in cool water to reduce his core body temperature. Take care to not let any water near his head. Offer electrolyte water to restore proper muscle and nervous function. Seek veterinary assistance if your dog’s condition does not improve.


Causes: Overexposure to sunlight in sensitive, white-nosed dogs.

Signs: Redness and swelling of unpigmented skin along the top of the nose.

Prevention: Apply sunscreen to unpigmented areas before setting out. Repeat as needed. Avoid excessive exposure to sunlight for sensitive dogs. Wind and snow-reflected sunlight aggravate the condition.

Treatment: Minimize or prevent any further direct sunlight. Apply cold water compresses. Apply Thermazine salve to affected skin in severe cases.


Five Tips for Training your Spaniel Puppy to Retrieve

April 8, 2013

You’ve done your research and have located the perfect spaniel breed for your needs. Now the little guy is tumbling around at your feet, and you’re wondering how to get started. Have no fear, the only thing you need is your healthy seven to twelve week old spaniel puppy and a strong desire to train him on your part. So, other than the necessary equipment, you’re set!

A quick note on the equipment: You will need a simple flat collar, short lead, flexi-leash, and some puppy-sized retrieving dummies. Training will be taking place in your home and yard.

Once you have your equipment together, you are ready to proceed with the training of your puppy. Remember, the more quality time you can spend with him regularly, the better relationship you will develop. You will understand him, and he will understand you. As you are getting acquainted with him, expose him to as many situations as you can that you foresee him encountering later in life. Choose a call name that is short, one to two syllables, and doesn’t rhyme with any of the commands, such as “Joe,” “Mack” or “Ray” as they sound like “no,” “back” or “stay.”

The huntSince your puppy is still very young, most trainers begin with the play-retrieve. Start to teach the play- retrieve when the puppy becomes comfortable around you, and will happily pick up different things and tote them back to his “house” or “lair.” Once he is doing that by himself, place yourself between where he picks up the toy and where he takes it and playfully con him out of it. This conditions the pup that you are his “secondary lair.”

Familiarize your puppy with the puppy dummy. Hold him by the collar and show him the dummy, as it’s something new to him and it may be scary at first. Let him smell it and mouth it, but don’t allow him to run off with it. Don’t tease him with it; just let him get familiar with it. When he appears to be comfortable with the dummy, go close to his “house.” Tease him with the dummy, tap it on the ground, wave it around, talk excitedly, whatever it takes to get him really wanting that dummy. When he really wants it, toss it a short way off. If he goes after it, picks it up and goes by you, grab his collar and bring him to a stop. Do not take the dummy at this time! Pet and praise the pup enthusiastically for a minute or two, and then see if he will let you take the dummy. You don’t want to take it too soon, as he may run away from you next time as he feels that it is his and you shouldn’t have it. If he won’t let you have it, continue praising him and petting him until he’s ready to let you have it. Then toss it again.

bigstock-ACS-Baseball-581419Repeat this two or three times. Don’t over do it. You want to keep him excited and wanting the dummy, not tired and worn out. Keep it fun. With a pup that won’t bring it back, you will have to attach him to the flexi-lead and bring him back to you, with or without the dummy. You may also use a small alleyway where he doesn’t have a place to run except out and back. Do not take him off the flexi-lead until he is regularly bringing the dummy back to you. Otherwise, you may inadvertently train him to bring it to you only when he is on the long lead.

Once he’s reliably bringing the dummy back to you in front of his “house” go into your backyard. Continue to keep the tosses short, five to ten feet. Move around the backyard as he demonstrates a reliable return. If he doesn’t readily return to you, place him back on the flexi-lead and work with him until he comes back to you without you having to pull him back in.

Keep the sessions short. Three or four retrieves is plenty. You can have another session an hour or so later, but keep them all short. Work slowly and let him improve at his own speed . Once he is reliably retrieving with you in various places, he is ready to move on to the next steps. This would include teaching him a command for the retrieve, whistle commands, and introduction to cover, birds, gunfire and water.

For some excellent books on training your retriever, visit our Sporting Dog page, where we have books by James B. Spencer as well Cherylon Loveland and Clarice Rutherford’s Retriever Puppy Training.

How to Start a Puppy Trailing

February 26, 2013

The first step in field training starts in the house or within the confines of your yard. As soon as the dog is accustomed to his new surroundings it is time to play hide and seek. Playing games with the dog is an excellent way to begin training as it immediately associates training with fun. Put the collar and harness on the puppy, walk away from him and try to hide. Praise the puppy for following and finding you. Distract the puppy with a toy to get the puppy to focus on the toy and not you. Leave and hide just out of sight of the puppy, around a corner or behind something, then call the puppy and wait.

If the puppy becomes frustrated and cries, call him. If he can’t seem to figure out where you are, call him again or catch his attention by waving and then ducking down. Praise him for finding you. As he figures the game out make it more difficult. Have someone hold him back as you walk away, calling him, and disappear out of sight. Hide and then tell the holder to let him go. Call the puppy once and wait. Again, lots of praise and pats for the successful puppy.

Hide behind furniture, yard objects, doors, boxes or other objects. Make the game quick and fun in the beginning and gradually make it more difficult as the pup gets the hang of it. Move the game outside or to a bigger area. Once the puppy understands the game it is time to begin developing his skills by looking for strangers. You now move from being the quarry to being the handler.

Start the hide and seek game again but this time attach a lead to the puppy’s collar. Have the runner walk away, calling the puppy and stepping out of sight. Move the lead from the collar to the harness and give the puppy the “Find!” command. Release the tension on the lead and let the puppy go after the runner. If the puppy doesn’t start searching have the runner call him. When the pup moves forward give him the working command again and encourage him. Don’t pull or steer him with the lead, just keep it slack.

If the pup stops or gets distracted have the runner call him and make sure the runner gives the puppy a treat or lots of attention when the pup makes the find. Make sure it is a big deal so the puppy is willing to try again! Puppy trails should include some trails where the person is within sight of the puppy but further away so that all the puppy has do is run to them. Mix in some hidden runner trails but keep things fun and consistent. Be sure to start each trail with the command to work and encourage the dog along the way.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks for a working dog is to have a handler that steers or guides the dog by using pressure on the lead. Remember that you are learning to follow the dog who is following the scent, something that you can’t see. You have to learn to trust the dog. In these early stages watch the path the runner takes, the jogs and the turns, and then watch the pup as he follows. Notice how closely he follows the trail and watch his body language. You will be learning the dog’s signals and how he may operate in the field.

Kady would signal turns and changes in the trail by changing the way she held her tail. This is very common. When the dog is on trail and working, the tail is held up; in areas of contamination or areas where there is a scent pool the tail drops to half-mast. Once the dog picks up the trail the tail goes back up and if the trail ends suddenly the tail drops.  If the dog comes across a body or detects fear the tail drops and curls under the dog. some handlers refer to these tail movements as alerts or flags. Get to know how your dog signals trail changes.

Excerpt from On the Trail by Jan Tweedie

Alpine Publications Dog & Horse Book Survey

February 25, 2013

Spring is peeking around the corner, time for growth and new beginnings. At Alpine Publications, we are looking forward to bringing our customers new books that are useful, as well as enjoyable. While we have several unique books that we feel you will enjoy coming out this year, we would love to hear from you personally so that we can have a better opportunity to bring the right books to your bookshelves. Could you please take a few minutes to fill out this brief survey and let us know what you would like to see provided in a book? We look forward to hearing from you soon!


What activities do you like to do with your dog? Part IV

November 15, 2012


Part IV

Dog sports that have developed from mushing

In countries or areas with large amounts of snow, especially Scandinavia, Siberia, and Alaska, dogs have been used as a main source of transportation for many centuries. More recently, with the development of better and different equipment, as well as human’s desire to be creative and team up with dogs, there has been an outgrowth of ‘dog-powered’ sports that originate from the sled dogs of the past.


Skijoring, or “ski driving” in Norwegian, has been used in the Scandinavian countries for centuries. In skijoring, people were towed behind horses, reindeer or dogs on long wooden skis. In modern times, this practical use has turned into a popular recreational, as well as competitive, sport that people on cross-country skis can enjoy with their dogs. As only one to three dogs are needed for a team, those people in urban areas can participate in this activity. Races can vary in length, from the 270 mile Kalevala, held in Russia, the Road Runner 100 held in Whitehorse, Yukon, or the many shorter lengths offered by various mushing and sled dog clubs. Although not as well-known in North America, pulka racing has been popular in Europe for many years. A pulk is a small sled that is pulled either by the skijorer or the dog. This also dates back to early history as man traversed with their dogs throughout the snow season. Kick sledding is a lesser known sport that involves a small sled with long runners in the rear with a chair mounted on the runners. Since only one or two dogs are usually used with the kick sled, this also attracts urban dog owners.


Naturally, when people have dogs that are willing to pull them, the mode of transportation for the human can become quite varied.  Bikejoring, bladjoring, dog scootering, canicross, and dryland mushing are activities that grew out of mushing.  The first three sports are similar to dog sledding, but instead of using a sled the handler uses a bike, roller blades or a non-motorized scooter. Each sport includes a person and one to three dogs. The person wears a waist belt which is attached to a bungee cord or elastic line, which is then attached to the harness on the dog(s).Bikejoring pairs up a person riding a mountain bike with the dog(s), whereas bladjoring matches up a person wearing roller blades, and with dog scootering, the person uses a non-motorized scooter. Originating in Europe, canicross started as an off-season training program for mushers. A runner, using a waist belt and bungee cord or elastic line, hooks up to one or two dogs in harnesses, and the dog(s) pull the runner. The first Canicross World Championship was held in Ravenna, Italy, in 2002. Dryland mushing matches up a team with a three or four wheeled cart.  Started as a way to keep a sled team in shape during the warmer months, it has grown increasingly in popularity, and now has its own competitive events.

Join us next week as we delve into dog sports that are non-competitive!

What activities do you like to do with your dog – Part III

November 8, 2012

Part III

Dog sports that have developed since the 1960s and 1970s.

In our two previous blogs, we discussed two different aspects of dog sports. The first of which developed out of the work that dogs were involved in using their natural instincts, mainly hunting and herding. The second area developed from work where people used the dog’s strengths, either as guard or protection dogs or draft work.  More recent sports have developed out of these older dog sports. They began to show up sometime in the 1960s and 1970s. Several of them, especially agility, have become quite popular and draw a wide array of competitors. A large advantage to most of these sports is they do not require a certain type of dog, just a willingness from the dog to partner up with his owner, so anyone can join in the fun.

Agility, a very popular sport, was first seen in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s. After a demonstration at Crufts in 1978, spectators were intrigued and wanted to try their dogs on it. From there it grew to local, national, and then international competitions, with standard equipment and rules.

A lesser known event is flyball. Started in the late 1960s, early 1970s, this fun sport began in the Southern California area, and has now grown to over 300 tournaments a year across North America. This is an adrenalin packed event pitting two teams of four dogs. Each dog races over four hurdles, hits the box at the end for the tennis ball inside, then returns over the hurdles in a relay.

Rally Obedience was developed to encourage participation in obedience while offering a class that emphasizes fun and a more natural way to show off a dog’s obedience skills.  A new sport, recently developed in Germany, is Treibball. In this sport, the dog must ‘herd’ eight balls into a soccer-type goal with only whistles, verbal commands or hand signals being allowed from the handler. This was developed especially for those dogs that love to herd, but have no access to livestock. Nosework, where the dog searches for certain scents, was developed in southern California by a team of professional dog trainers that specializes in detection dog work. They wanted to offer the same opportunities for scent work to companion dogs that their detection dogs had in scent work, offering a dog a chance to use his innate hunting and scenting skills. Agilure is a new sport which combines agility and lure coursing where the dog races after a lure that goes through a course similar to an agility course.

Several fun activities that are becoming quite popular are dock diving, and musical canine freestyle, also known as canine dressage or heelwork to music. Dock diving probably started when some guy boasted that his dog could jump out further than the other guy’s dog, but officially took off in 1997 when the Purina sponsored Incredible Dog Challenge used the dock diving as a filler and received a more enthusiastic response then they expected. Combining obedience training, tricks and dance, Musical Canine Freestyle began simultaneously around 1990 in several different countries. There are two different types of musical canine freestyle; freestyle heeling where the dog stays in a variation of the heel position, and musical freestyle that requires the dog to do a combination of tricks and obedience maneuvers.

Join us next week as we explore the many fun sports that have come from mushing!

What kind of dog is that? – How DNA is Unlocking the Mystery of Dog Genetics

October 17, 2012

A recent study done by the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Program has left me with more questions than answers. I think most of us, when we encounter a dog, automatically attempt to categorize the breed or type of dog. This may be partially a reaction to make sure that we are safe with that dog in the same proximity as ourselves, our kids or our dogs, or just a natural instinct to categorize it into something known and familiar. But are we right? Even though we have studied dog breeds for decades, we need to ask, are we right in our assumption that what we see in front of us is definitely such and such a breed, or is it something different?

They asked over 5,000 dog experts, varying from veterinarians, breeders, trainers, shelter personnel, and groomers, to give their opinion on what breed(s) of dogs made up the dogs in the photos. In viewing the 119 dogs, they noted what breed(s) they thought made up that particular dog. The University of Florida Veterinary staff then did a DNA test of all of the 119 dogs, and matched up the tests with the guesses provided by the dog experts. The results are very interesting.

Take a few moments and look at what they came up with.!prettyPhoto[4202]/73/ Do you agree with what the dog experts guessed? Or do you agree with what the DNA showed? (Notice most of the DNA does not add up to 100%, so it’s hard to say what is missing from the picture. There is no further explanation, that I could find, of the actual DNA tests and why they don’t add up to 100%, but, it is interesting nonetheless.)

The breeds that seem to be more obvious and ‘guessed’ correctly are the American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier and of course, the Basset Hound, but many of them do not look at all like what their DNA says. Doesn’t Dog #4 look like a Pyrenees Shepherd or Catalonian Sheepdog? How did the little puppy, Dog #93, get such a fuzzy looking coat, or Dog #25? All of the breeds in their DNA are smooth coated. Dog #114 doesn’t look like any one of the four breeds that make up what the DNA says he is. Dog #102 would be automatically classified as a Border Collie/Labrador Retriever mix without a second thought. Dog #94 doesn’t look a thing like any of his ancestors, none of which are smooth coated, and Dog #81 is just all mixed up. How did Dog # 79 come up with a smooth coat of the color pattern that he’s showing? And Dog #66 would be a Lab cross at any shelter. Where did Dog #33 pick up the black and white coloration, or Dog #18 get the coloration of an Australian Cattle Dog type? Dog #22 looks like it may be an Am Staff cross, but isn’t, so what of all of the breed specific legislation? He would be outlawed, but he isn’t a bully breed.

The result of the study opens up so many more questions than it answers. It definitely shows how unpredictable genetics are in the canine makeup, and how what one may think is obvious is not so obvious. This presents a challenge to shelter staff when placing the dogs, as the dog may look like a Lab cross, and they may think that it is going to be a fun-loving happy go lucky dog, but instead it’s a Cane Corso cross with high guarding instincts. Someone who wants a herding dog could end up with a bird dog.

What do you think of this study? How do you think the dogs may have inherited a fuzzy coat, or Irish markings, when their DNA shows no heritage of the breeds known for this? Or how did the dog grow large, or small, or have drop ears, or any number of things? How might this relate to our ‘pure’ bred dogs? We obviously can’t tell the personality or temperament from a photo, but judging a dog by its physical characteristics may be much more complicated than may first be considered. Leave us a comment and let us know what you think.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,468 other followers

%d bloggers like this: