First Aid


Listed below are a few useful tips and helpful ideas on how to cope with minor First Aid 
problems. When you next visit your vet’s surgery ask the nurses to show you how to take 
your dog’s temperature and pulse. Both these easy to do examinations will give you valuable 

information about your dog:

In the healthy dog the normal temperature is 38.3–38.7°C 
(100.9–101.7°F) and the resting pulse is between 70-160 beats per minute.



Irish Setter ears hang close to the head and are generally fairly hairy. These two factors, in 
some dogs, can provide ideal conditions for bacteria to breed and cause infections. The 
easiest way to prevent this is by keeping the hair on the underside of the flap and around 
the ear canal short, to allow air to circulate. Examine the ears regularly. Check for offensive 
odours and wax build up. You can buy "over the counter" ear cleaners from your vet and they are an invaluable item in your First Aid kit. Beware of the dog that continuously shakes its head, particularly if the ear looks clean. It is normally a signal for a foreign body such as a grass seed. DO NOT put anything into the ear – seek veterinary advice.



The general rule is: DO NOT USE PREPARATIONS in the eye unless they are specifically designed for eyes. "Optrex" is a must for your First Aid box. Normally any eye condition is one that  requires a trip to the vet’s surgery, but minor infections can normally be treated successfully by gentle cleaning and bathing.


Get your dog used to having its mouth and teeth examined from an early age. The most 
common foreign bodies in mouths are sticks or bones and the most common place to find them is wedged across the roof of the mouth. You can easily remove them if your dog is used to you examining the mouth. No attempt should be made to remove fish hooks, sticks or bones that  have penetrated tissues.



These are very common and even those in inquisitive young puppies don’t cause problems. Most stings are found on the face or lips and, occasionally, on the feet. In the case of bee stings: if the sting is visible, it needs to be removed with a pair of tweezers. This should be done by grasping the sting as close as possible to the point of entry into the skin. Once removed, clean the area well. For stings inside the mouth, contact your vet. It can lead to tremendous swelling in the mouth/throat which will need steroids to reduce. In some animals a severe allergic reaction can occur and this is a medical emergency.



If you exercise your dog on heathland the risk of an adder bite, on a warm sunny day, will 
be one that you take; however, they are by no means common. Following the bite, the 
tissues swell rapidly and are extremely painful. Whilst, again, this involves a trip to the 
vet’s surgery it is highly important to wash the whole area thoroughly. A cold compress 
applies "en route" to the surgery will help to reduce swelling and, more importantly, help 
to alleviate pain.



The most important First Aid measure is to cool the affected area rapidly; this will decrease 
the pain and hear in the tissues. In the case of burns; flush the area with cold water and 
then use ice cubes. Scalds are, again, best treated with cold water; however, if the scald is
caused by fat or oil this must be removed from the cost by using a detergent followed by 
plenty of cold water to remove the cause and the detergent.



The most important items to keep in your First Aid kit are a roll of cotton wool and a large 
selection of bandages. In the case of a severed artery the would itself may be very small,
but a large amount of blood may be lost. Try not to panic! Encase the foot or wound in 
cotton wool and apply a generous bandage; THEN attend the vet’s surgery. If the bleeding 
continues through the bandage before you get to the surgery, just apply another over the top.



A very common injury and one that can take an age to heal. Keep the foot clean with salt 
water bathing (1 tsp of salt in 1 pint of warm water). Most importantly, keep the foot dry 
and that includes preventing the dog from licking the pad. When the dog is exercised, 
protect the area with a light dressing and an old sock.



Split tail tips are very common in Irish Setters because of their constant tail wagging. 
The injury doesn’t seem to cause any problem to the dog but it will make a mess in the 
house. A dressing will certainly help to heal the injury but there is an art to keeping a 
dressing on a wagging tail. Use plenty of sticky plaster.



This can occur very quickly – not only when the dog is left in a confined space. In the 
summer months don’t exercise your dog in the middle of the day when the sun is at its 
hottest and NEVER leave the dog unattended in the car. Dogs suffering from heat stroke 
are distressed, pant excessively and they tend to drool large amounts of saliva. The body 
must be cooled immediately and the easiest way is with cold water via a hosepipe. Care 
must be taken not to let the body temperature fall below normal. Once the dog is cool 
he will need a trip to the vet’s surgery straight away.


Cathy Hayward - Veterinary Nurse