If your Lab is pawing at her mouth, gagging, coughing, or drooling, she may have something caught in her mouth or throat. Open her jaws and shine a flashlight down the throat. If you can see the object, reach in and pull it out, using your fingers, tweezers, or a pair of pliers. If you cannot see anything and your dog is still choking, hit her behind the neck between the shoulders to try to dislodge the object. If this fails, use an adapted Heimlich maneuver. Grasp either side of the dog’s ribcage and squeeze. Don’t break the ribs, but try to make a sharp enough movement to cause the air in the lungs to force the object out.
– Your dog has unexplained swelling or redness
– Your dog’s appetite changes
– Your dog vomits repeatedly and can’t seem to keep food down, or drools excessively while eating. You see any changes in your dog’s urination or defecation (pain during elimination, change in regular habits, blood in urine or stool, diarrhea, foul-smelling stool)
– Your dog scoots her rear end on the floor
– Your dog’s energy level, attitude, or behavior changes for no apparent reason
– Your dog has crusty or cloudy eyes, or excessive tearing or discharge
– Your dog’s nose is dry or chapped, hot, crusty, or runny
– Your dog’s ears smell foul, have a dark discharge, or seem excessively waxy
– Your dog’s gums are inflamed or bleeding, her teeth look brown, or her breath is foul. Your dog’s skin is red, flaky, itchy, or inflamed, or she keeps chewing at certain spots
– Your dog’s coat is dull, dry, brittle, or bare in spots
– Your dog’s paws are red, swollen, tender, cracked, or the nails are split or too long
– Your dog  is panting  excessively, wheezing, unable to catch  her breath, breathing heavily, or sounds strange when she breathes
If your dog can breathe around the object, get to the vet as soon as possible. If your dog cannot breathe around the object, you don’t have time to move the dog. Keep working on getting the object out.


Because your Lab will be in great pain if she has broken a bone, you should muzzle her immediately. Do not try to set the fracture, but do try to immobilize the limb, if possible, by using a piece of wood and then wrapping it with gauze or soft cloth. If there is a door or board handy, use it as a backboard or stretcher so the injured limb is stable. Transport the dog to the vet as soon as possible.

Overheating or Heatstroke

Overheating or heatstroke is characterized by rapid or difficult breathing, vomiting, and even collapse. If your dog has these symptoms, you need to act at once – this can be life threatening. Immediately place your Lab in a tub of cool water or, if a tub is not available, run water from a hose over your dog. Use a rectal thermometer to take the dog’s temperature and call your veterinarian immediately. Encourage your dog to drink some cool water. Transport the dog to the vet as soon as you can, or as soon as the vet recommends it.


Symptoms of poisoning include retching and vomiting, diarrhea, salivation, labored breathing, dilated pupils, weakness, collapse, and convulsions. Sometimes one or more symptoms will appear together, depending upon the poison. If you suspect your dog has been in contact with a poison, time is critical. Call your veterinarian right away. If your vet is not immediately available, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. The hotline and your vet can better treat your dog if you can tell them what was ingested and approximately how much.

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center has a staff of licensed veterinarians and board-certified toxicologists available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The number to call is (888) 426-4435. You will be charged a consultation fee of $60 per case, charged to most major credit cards. There is no charge for follow-up calls in critical cases. At your request, they will also contact your veterinarian. Specific treatment and information can be provided via fax. Put the number in large, legible print with your other emergency telephone numbers. Be prepared to give your name, address, and phone number; what your dog has gotten into (the amount and how long ago); your dog’s breed, age, sex, and weight; and what signs and symptoms the dog is showing.


Without getting bitten yourself, try to get a look at the snake, making note of colors, patterns, and markings so you or your vet can identify the snake. Keep the dog as quiet as possible to restrict the flow of venom. Do not cut X ’s above the wound. That often causes more tissue damage than the bite itself, and is not known to be effective.
If your dog is in pain or is frantic, muzzle her. Call your vet immediately so that they can get some antivenom medication ready for your dog’s arrival.

Torn Nails

A ripped or broken toenail can be very painful. If the dog is frantic, muzzle her to protect yourself. If a piece of the nail is hanging, trim it off. Run hydrogen peroxide over the nail. If the nail is bleeding, run it over a soft bar of soap. The soap will help the nail clot. If the quick is showing or if the nail has broken off under the skin, call your veterinarian. Antibiotics might be needed to prevent an infection.


One Response to “Labrador Retriever – Emergency First Aid (part 2)”
  1. Lois says:

    I have a 4 year lab mix with nails spliting and dry. What casuses this and how can I cure it?

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