North Island St.Bernard Assn.Inc

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New Zealand
New Zealand
North Island St.Bernard
Association Inc.
Est: 1981


First Aid For Your Saint

Disclaimer – No suggestions printed here, for treatment of ailments should override qualified Veterinary advice.

Warning - Use medicines and treatments that have been approved for Canine Use only.

Some human medications are toxic to dogs and if used, even in small quantities, can cause irreparable damage to internal organs or in some cases, death.


First Aid Kit – Keep this together in a marked waterproof container.

Thermometer any type suitable for safe use rectally. Learn how to use it. Your dogs’ temperature should be 38.6.  A temperature of 39.2 indicates illness and anything over 40 degrees Celsius, contact your vet immediately

Antibiotic, Antifungal and or Anaesthetic cream.

Hibicleans – Antiseptic/Antimicrobial Skin Liquid Soap for cleaning wounds, sores.

Scissors – blunt tip.

Sterilised Water or Saline capsules – for flushing a wound or rinsing eyes.


Stomach soothing medication – Buscopan – to relieve stomach pains caused by gas or food.

Ear cleaning solution -

Surgical Methylated Spirits

Hydrogen Peroxide – to cause vomiting, Seek Veterinary advice for quantities before administering.

Pressure Bandage and Clips to secure it.

Tweezers – to remove foreign bodies, grass seeds, etc.

Gauze Pads and Tape

Disposable Rubber Gloves

A card with contact details of your veterinarian, the National Poisons Centre. Ph 080076766 24 hours.

A pantyhose for emergency use as a tourniquet or muzzle.

Pack of Wet Wipes.

Collapsible Water Dish.


The following remedies or treatments have been provided by experienced St Bernard owners –

Bloat If your Saint is trying to vomit, retching and frothing at the mouth or has a bloated belly, or they collapse, this could be Bloat and you need to get your dog to your vet immediately. Have someone phone the vet to tell them you are on your way with a suspected bloat case.

The sooner you get there the more likely your dog is to survive. This is one of the true veterinary emergencies.


Heat strokeSaints can overheat very fast. Do NOT ignore the symptoms. Heavy panting, salivating, red gums, and stumbling are classic signs. Your Saint should never be exercised in the heat of the day. Remember, they are snow dogs.

If they overheat their temperature will rise rapidly and this will very quickly damage internal organs and if the temperature is not returned to normal, it can result in death. Cooling them quickly is imperative. The recommended method is wet towels on the belly area or putting the dog in a cold bath or shower.

A method that works for me is to put them in a car with the window down and to drive fast down the road. The air rushing past them and into their mouth cools them very quickly.

Bleeding Nails – At some stage most of us have nicked the quick when cutting our dogs toe nails. It always bleeds profusely. Apply styptic powder or a styptic pencil to the cut nail but be prepared for it to sting when applied. A mix of cornflour and baking powder also does the trick. Dip the foot in it and hold there until the bleeding stops.

Clean the wound after the bleeding has stopped and if the toe starts to swell or becomes hot, or if the Saint becomes lame, take them to the Veterinarian.


Ears – If your dog is shaking its head more than usual, check their ears. It is usual to have some brown wax in the ears but if the ears are overly hot, if the earflap is very red or if there is discharge or smell of any kind, you may have a low grade yeast or bacterial infection, or the ear may be host to ear mites. To treat, using a pet shop or veterinary ear cleaner, hold the ear flap up and gently squirt the liquid down the ear canal until it is full. Vigorously massage the dogs cheek from the opening of the ear canal down towards the canine teeth and stand back and they will shake the ear cleaner out, hopefully along with whatever was causing the problem. (Best done outside). If the head shaking persists for several days, or if the smell or discharge persists, take your dog to the Veterinarian.

If your dog yelps in pain when you pour the ear cleaner in the ear canal, take them to the vet.

Do NOT use cotton buds or any other item to poke down the ear canal. Paper towels, tissues or a warm flannel will clean the inside ear flap. The ear flap should be cleaned regularly, however I think you can cause a lot of problems cleaning the ear canal frequently. I leave them unless there is an issue.


Eyes – Dogs eyes are affected by the same things that irritate human eyes. Plants, dust, pollen, wind, grasses, chemicals, impact etc can cause the eye to become irritated and to weep.

If a foreign body is causing eye irritation, flush the eye out with saline solution or sterilised water.  If the eye looks a bit mucky from dust, wipe the closed eye over with a used tea bag. It is unwise to let your dog hang its head out of the window of the car in case something airborne enters your dogs eye at speed.

If the weeping eye persists, if there is a cloudiness to the eye, or if your dog is rubbing or pawing at his eye, they may have an eye ulcer. Ulcers are incredibly painful so seek a veterinary treatment immediately.


Teeth – Seek Veterinary advice for broken teeth or swollen gums. Tartar on teeth can be cleaned by your Vet or you can feed raw carrots or other hard food to keep the teeth clean. Untreated bacterial infections in the mouth can lead to heart problems.


Grass Seed – in recent years the incidence of grass seeds penetrating dogs’ skin and travelling inside their body has increased with the warm dry summers we have been experiencing. Grass seeds of various varieties of grass can be problematic. Mostly it is Rye grass and Barley grass seed which hooks into the dogs, usually via their feet or their ears. For the spring, summer and autumn months, check your dogs feet thoroughly, weekly. Especially check right up between each toe and under their feet between their pads. The moistness of the feet can cause some seeds to embed and sprout very quickly. Use tweezers to remove any trace of seed in the feet.

Cutting the hair between the toes and pads helps, because there is less for the seeds to be trapped amongst. If you can not keep the feet trimmed back, ask a dog groomer to do it for you. They use clippers and it is very quick.

Grass seeds have been found in feet, in knees, up legs, in ears and behind dogs eyes.  Smooth coated Saints are less likely to have a problem because of the short hair on their feet.

Below typical pictures of grass seed penetration.


Hot Spots, Wet Eczema, Dermatitis, Pyoderma – All of these are names of the various stages of skin conditions caused by a wound that becomes infected. These can start out as a small cut or graze or contact allergy and can develop very quickly into a liquid filled, pus covered mess. The treatment for these conditions depends largely on what stage the wound is at. Identifying the underlying cause may help with future prevention or a re occurrence.

A small abrasion can be cleaned with cotton wool or gauze dipped in Hibiclens diluted in warm water to remove surface bacteria and disinfect the wound. After cleaning, gently pat the area dry, and dab with surgical methylated spirits, colloidal silver, raw aloe or a thin layer of manuka honey.

If the injury is worse, after cleaning the site, liberally apply an antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic cream such as Inflamol. Do not use anything with stinging or astringent properties on an open raw wound.

A cool wet chamomile tea bag against the wound provides a soothing effect.

Repeat several times daily until the wound heals.

If the wound is discharging, systemic antibiotics prescribed from your vet will probably be required to clean it up and your vet may shave the site to assist in keeping it clean. The wounds get infected very quickly with the heat and humidity of summer and spring and, if left unattended, can make your Saint very sick very quickly.

Try to stop your dog licking or biting the infected area. Re traumatising the wound will cause the spot to get bigger and the infection will not clear up.

Below typical pictures of Hot Spots, Wet Eczema, Dermatitis or Pyoderma.


HINT – When giving your dog pills, they will not have swallowed them until their tongue exits their mouth, just a little. They may appear to have swallowed them, but will have swallowed the saliva that builds up in their mouth while you hold it closed.

They are tricky and will hold pills in there forever, only to spit them out when your

back is turned. Watch for the tongue. If they are taking forever to swallow the medication, give them a gentle tap on their stomach. It will take them by surprise and they will swallow as a reaction.



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