column By: Dr. Hank Clemmons | November, 19
In my previous two columns, I’ve helped you assemble a well-equipped first-aid kit and shared some basic tips on the use of several items in it. But all of that newly acquired knowledge is useless if your dog won’t hold still while you’re trying to treat it. So before we continue with the discussion of how to use any other pieces of equipment, let’s take a look at field restraint techniques. These will allow you to apply all of your newfound knowledge on an uncooperative patient. Plus, don’t forget: You might also need to muzzle the dog if it’s aggressive, in pain, scared or if you’re unsure if it’ll bite. If you practice these methods at home, they will be easier to accomplish in the face of an emergency.
Mike Studer and Lily the English setter demonstrate a technique to quickly lay a dog on its side and hold it so another person can perform procedures. Stand or kneel beside the dog. Reach over the top of the dog and grasp the lower portion of its front and rear inside legs (the legs nearest to your body). Lift the dog slightly while pulling both legs out from under the dog and away from you.
Extend the legs you are holding and rotate the dog’s back toward you to settle the dog onto its side. The dog cannot get up if both front and rear legs are held up while the head and hips are pinned down. Do not let go; most dogs will settle down quickly if held firmly and comfortably.
This technique allows one person to restrain the dog while freeing the other person to use both hands for performing any necessary procedures. Use your elbow/forearm to pin the head down (don’t choke or press too hard) while using your other forearm to press down on the dog’s hips (firmly, not painfully). The dog will quickly escape if any single part is released. Be prepared for the occasional struggle if pain is caused. Remember to keep your head and face up to avoid being bitten or scratched should the dog wriggle free.
Dr. Hank and Lucy the Drahthaar illustrate another technique for restraining a standing dog so another person can perform procedures. Standing or kneeling beside the dog, place one arm under the dog’s chin and around the neck, pinning the dog’s head against your chest/shoulder area. The other arm goes over the back and around the flank pinning the dog’s hips. To help control head movement, raise your elbow under the dog’s chin.
A slip leash is a length of rope, cord or nylon strap with a ring on one end and a handhold on the other. To use it, run the cord through the ring to create a loop that goes around the dog’s neck. The loop tightens when the dog pulls or struggles and loosens when it relaxes. All hunters should have two: one in their hunting vest and the other in the first-aid kit
This method allows a person who must work alone to restrict a dog’s movement while freeing both hands for procedures. Once the loop is in place around the dog’s neck, tie the standing (loose) end of the leash to any fixed object, preferably above or in front of the dog. Place another slip leash (or rope) around the dog’s flank and tie the standing end to any fixed object above or behind the dog. This technique does not prevent movement, but it keeps the dog from getting away from you