Pet Safety Tips for Dog Emergencies

Bee stings, choking, ticks—it’s a cruel world out there. Be prepared!
By Susan Tasaki, June 2009, Updated June 2021
The Pet Emergency Pocket Guide

The Pet Emergency Pocket Guide describes how to deal with a bee or wasp sting. Locate the site and remove stinger (scrape, don’t squeeze). Wrap ice cubes in a towel and apply to the area to alleviate pain and swelling. Benadryl or dephenhydramine liquid may help; call your local vet emergency clinic to confirm medication and dosage. Make a paste of baking soda and apply directly to the sting. (Informed, $16.95)

Here’s how to do a canine Heimlich maneuver, from The Worst-Case Scenario Pocket Guide: Dogs. Place your arms around the dog’s waist, clasp your hands together behind the last rib and compress the stomach, pushing up five times rapidly. Sweep his mouth with your fingers to see if the object was dislodged. If not, strike him firmly between the shoulder blades with the flat of your hand and then do another five abdominal compressions. Alternate backslapping and compressions until the object is knocked free. Be aware that even an unconscious dog may bite reflexively, so be careful when sweeping the mouth. And don’t slap his back so hard that you injure him. (Chronicle Books, $7.95) 

Vet Nancy Kay, of Speaking for Spot fame, tells us how to spin a tick, a trick she recently learned from Jessica, a vet nurse who works with her. Wearing a plastic glove, lightly place your index finger on the tick and rotate it in small, steady circles. Within approximately 20 seconds, the tick, completely intact, will detach itself from your dog—who will think he’s getting a massage.

Illustration by Brenda Brown/Worst-Case Scenario Pocket Guide

Susan Tasaki, a freelance editor and writer, lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her Husky, who wishes they both got out more.