The post was written in cooperation with a veterinarian (Kertu Kivirand).
Bites, puncture wounds and abscesses
Dogs can be bitten mostly by other dogs, but also by cats. Hunting dogs can be bitten by, for example, foxes, raccoons, beavers. Wounds sustained during fights are usually deep and require medical attention. However, bites received during the game can also cause health concerns, as the mouth is a very microbial place and a small skin scratch is enough to cause an infection. Even a small trauma to the mite is enough to damage the blood vessels and cause a hematoma, or blood clot. Bites and puncture wounds are often small on the surface, but the damage to the underlying tissues of the skin can be greater, and bacteria that get under the skin can cause inflammation and abscesses. In addition to teeth, puncture wounds can be caused by a sharp branch (including branches used in the game of throwing), broken glass and many other things. In order to prevent trauma, it is worth avoiding potential conflicts with another animal, for example when walking on a leash, and for playing and chewing, use chew toys instead of random wooden sticks. In general, it is difficult to completely avoid accidents, but if a wound does occur, the first thing you should do is clean it with a saline solution and, if possible, an alcohol-free antiseptic to reduce the risk of infection. For more serious wounds, or if the wound does not heal as expected, appears red, painful, inflamed, or oozes, a veterinarian should be consulted.
From spring to autumn, short-haired and bare-bellied dogs can be plagued by mosquitoes, gnats and fleas. Ticks attack all dogs, in the Estonian climate they can be active even in winter. Red bumps appear over the bite. The site of the tick bite may swell and be slightly inflamed, the intradermal nodule may persist for several months. The strength of the reaction to a mosquito bite depends on the animal (whether there is hypersensitivity), the number of mosquitoes and the thickness of the protective coat. There are more sensitive animals whose bites cause severe itching that may even require treatment. The reaction to bee and wasp stings is also individual, just like in humans. Severe swelling and soreness may occur, accompanied by lethargy and vomiting. Getting a needle in the head area is dangerous because the airway can be blocked by swelling. To prevent an accident, try to keep the dog away from pollinators' favorite places, for example, do not walk in a clover field. Dogs often learn to avoid unpleasant insects themselves after being stung once. If the dog is known to be hypersensitive, it would still be worthwhile to carry first aid medicines with you in the summer after consulting a vet. In milder cases, a cetirizine (Zyrtec) 10 mg tablet administered orally at 1 mg per 1 kg of dog weight is sufficient, i.e. 1 tablet is suitable for a 10 kg dog as soon as the sting has occurred. If the thistle is in the skin, it should be removed if possible. The coat (one of the reasons why you shouldn't shave your dog in the summer), a vest, etc., and external parasite repellants with a somewhat repelling effect (stomach drops) that you can get from a veterinary clinic protect against mosquitoes, midges, and roaches.
Bone fractures and cracks
Bone fractures mostly occur as a result of a fall or car trauma, and in small dogs and puppies also as a result of being stepped on. Injuries are generally very painful, causing lameness and require a vet visit for diagnosis and treatment. To prevent trauma, one must be careful - do not walk the dog without a leash, in the case of a small animal look ahead, before starting to drive make sure that the dog is not lying under the car and secure the dog in the car. In the case of an animal living in the garden, check the integrity of the fence and whether it is possible to prevent the dog from escaping when moving in and out of the gate. Unfortunately, there are frequent cases where a family member has accidentally hit a dog in the yard with a car, especially in the dark or during holidays. In the dark, the dog could be equipped with reflectors/lights.
Muscle or joint trauma
Tears or dislocations occur more in physically active dogs that move at high speeds or jump, as well as from falls and car trauma. To prevent injuries, dog training should start with a warm-up, just like humans, and end with relaxation. If, for example, you immediately start throwing a toy to retrieve it after a nap, knee injuries are easy to come by. You should start by walking at a slower pace. Dogs also have different levels of fitness and may need different exercises to improve their fitness. Strong muscles stabilize the joints and help prevent joint trauma. To keep your dog in good shape, it is worth asking a physiotherapist or a dog trainer for advice.
A broken nail
Long claws, especially on the 5th toe or thumb, are prone to get stuck somewhere and break when moving. Sometimes so severe that sedation wound care in a veterinary clinic is necessary. Keeping your nails as short as possible by trimming them regularly is the best way to prevent trauma.
Ingestion of a foreign body
A foreign body is any inedible object that the digestive system may have difficulty expelling. Dogs are amazing and can swallow anything from toys to rocks. If the dog has just swallowed something (within 2 hours), call the veterinary clinic immediately for advice, if necessary, vomiting can be induced with medication and the foreign body can be prevented from entering the intestine. If swallowing has not been seen, but the dog is known to be so-called scavenger and/or develop digestive disorders, also visit the veterinary clinic for a check-up. To prevent the problem, prevent the dog from accessing anything that might be of interest. For example, make the trash can dog-proof. When moving outdoors, keep an eye on the dog's movement as much as possible. There are also very stubborn mud eaters who have to be walked outside with a basket in their mouth. It's always worth investigating what's causing this - this can be done by consulting a vet to rule out health concerns and then a behaviorist who can help investigate from there.
There are many toxic substances, from rat poison to grapes. The dog itself often cannot avoid harmful substances. Every dog owner should familiarize himself with the most common poisons and try to keep them away from the dog's nose. For example, the Pet Poison App VETCPD smart application can help, and you can always call the veterinary clinic in case of doubt (the number of a clinic offering first aid could be stored in your phone).
Tooth enamel is the strongest tissue in the body, but tooth fractures still occur frequently. Dogs love to chew on pretty much anything, sometimes even rocks, which can cause teeth to break or wear down. The problem can be difficult to spot because eating is usually not stopped because of dental problems. Every owner should regularly check their pet's mouth. Although a dog usually does not show a toothache, a broken tooth is extremely painful for a long time, and an open pulp cavity is a direct route for bacteria from the mouth into the bloodstream. Whether it is an open fracture, i.e. whether the tooth's nerves and blood supply are open to the outside world, it is sometimes impossible to tell by looking at the eye, and a dental X-ray performed under sedation is necessary. To prevent fractures, it is worth giving the dog suitable toys to chew and play with. The rule of thumb is that if you can't draw a line inside the toy with your fingernail, it's too hard for the dog to chew. This means that wooden sticks and many bones are actually unsuitable for chewing. If it seems like it might be nonsense, because wolves chew on bones, it helps to know that the number 1 cause of death for wolves is starvation due to dental problems.
Dogs often move at high speed in the wild between bushes and straw, which can easily poke into the eye and damage the cornea. The eye can also be injured during a conflict with another animal, a sharp cat's claw is especially dangerous. To prevent trauma, it is worth avoiding walking in dense brush, where plant branches are at eye level of the dog. If you meet a cat that doesn't like dogs or you don't know how it feels about dogs, you should avoid close contact.