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When to See the Vet and When to Treat at Home

AKC Family Dog Magazine Offers a Guide for When to Treat Your Dog at Home and When to Call the Vet

Emergencies for your dog can happen at any time. Some are minor, while others can be life threatening. In the November/December 2010 issue of American Kennel Club’s AKC Family Dog contributor and veterinarian Jeff Grognet, DVM offers advice on what you can treat at home and when you should bring your dog to the veterinarian. Among them:

  • Eyes

Any eye problem your dog has needs to be seen by a veterinarian. Most people can’t tell if their dog has a scratch that will heal on its own, or glaucoma which will cause vision loss very quickly.

  • Vomiting and diarrhea

Sudden, mild vomiting is common and can be treated at home, as long as the dog is not inactive and lethargic and the vomiting stops. Withhold food and water for 12 hours. Once the 12 hours have gone by, offer your dog water. If he can hold the water down for two hours, offer some bland food. Diarrhea can be treated at home by withholding only food. “Whenever vomiting or diarrhea continues, or the dog is depressed, or if the dog is under 16 weeks old or is a senior, it’s time for a veterinary visit,” says Dr. Grognet. “These dogs are fragile and a little dehydration can make them ill.”

  • Bloat

Bloat happens to a dog when the stomach begins swelling with air and rotating, which closes off the entrance and exit. Symptoms of bloat include drooling, trying to vomit, anxiety, pacing, and a swollen belly. This disease is very dangerous and needs immediate treatment from your veterinarian.

  • Allergic reactions

Your dog might have an allergic reaction from insect bites or stings, food, or medications. What most commonly happens is the muzzle and eyelids will swell. While this is uncomfortable for your pooch, it is not dangerous. He may also develop hives on his body which are very itchy, but also not dangerous. Consult your vet on how to keep your dog comfortable during an allergic reaction.


In addition, the article offers a list of items dog owners should have on hand. Among them:

  • Adhesive tape for bandaging.
  • Sterile dressing pads for covering wounds.
  • Gauze sponges for covering or cleaning wounds.
  • Antiseptic soap/solution for cleaning wounds.
  • Plastic Elizabethan collar to prevent your dog from licking wounds or irritated skin, or rubbing at his eyes or ears.
  • Blanket or towel to keep your dog warm or to carry him hammock-style.


More emergency situations can be found in the November/December 2010 issue of AKC Family Dog. To subscribe to AKC Family Dog, go to