Like anywhere else, dogs on the Outer Banks suffer from minor injuries and illnesses. Some can be treated by you but, when in doubt, contact a veterinarian. Some of these injuries/illnesses include:
Small lacerations and abrasions should be cleaned with soap and water or hydrogen peroxide. A triple antibiotic ointment can be applied twice daily until the wound heals. Deep wounds (lacerations longer than an inch) and wounds that bleed profusely should be seen by a vet. Be sure to apply direct pressure to control bleeding while transporting them to the vet.
Any moist dermatitis caused by self-trauma from scratching or chewing, especially on a dog’s face or hindquarters, can be classified as a “hot spot”. Golden Retrievers are especially prone to these. Trim the hair over the lesion and clean with soap and water or peroxide. Apply any over-the-counter cortisone cream twice daily. See a vet if the condition worsens – often an injection of cortisone or a course of cortisone pills and antibiotics are required for complete relief.
Simple diarrhea in dogs can be treated with Kaopectate or Pepto-Bismol (approximately 1 tsp per 20 – 30 lbs body weight) 3 or 4 times a day. You can also feed chicken and rice to help firm up the stool. If the diarrhea persists or if it is accompanied by vomiting see a vet. Drinking salt water is a common cause of both diarrhea and vomiting in dogs; please bring along fresh drinking water if you take your dog to the beach.
Running on the beach, climbing stairs or over-exertion by dogs on vacation can cause all kinds of muscle or joint problems. If your dog is limping, rest him/her for several days. Aspirin can usually be given safely (check with a vet for dosage). If the lameness persists or if there is obvious pain when the leg is touched, see a veterinarian.
If you catch your dog eating something that you think is dangerous, restrain him and examine the package or substance carefully for instructions. Contact the vet or your local poison control center immediately for advice. With the help of another person, give your dog hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting. Getting him to vomit will eliminate some of the poison that has already entered his body and will buy you some time until he gets treated by the vet.
To make your dog vomit, draw the hydrogen peroxide into a syringe or a turkey baster. Tip your dog’s head back and squirt it toward the back of his tongue. Generally, your dog will start to vomit within a few minutes. If he does not vomit after 5 minutes, wait for another 5 minutes and then try again. Do not give your dog more than two doses of the solution because administering too much hydrogen peroxide can cause potential complications. Also, do not use ipecac or other over-the-counter products that are used by humans. While it is safe for us, it can be toxic for our pets.