first aid cross


Pet First Aid Course

Keeping our pets safe takes many important skills – including a knowledge of first aid in an emergency – this course provides a mixture of theory, discussion and practical tasks and covers the following subjects:

  • Recognising normal for your pet
  • Heatstroke
  • Bandaging
  • Bloat
  • Poisoning
  • Seizures
  • Choking
  • Resuscitation
  • Being prepared
2020 Course dates are updated throughout the year

Due to limited spaces available, book your workshop today. You’ll receive 4 hours of training – though this time can vary depending on the course and size of the group.

Courses may vary from split sessions to our one day course

How to check course dates and book your place

We are offering our workshop spaces at venues across the RSA throughout 2020.


You will be asked to create an online account to register and once you have selected your venue and date, will receive a booking confirmation with further information on venues.

What does the course involve?

Our ‘Pet First Aid’ workshop provides 4 hours training.

The focus for the day is on being able to identify when something isn’t right with a pet and being able to act accordingly in an emergency situation before you get to the vet. We’ll also take a look at how you can prevent some emergencies from occurring in the first place. Delegates will leave with knowledge on how to prevent, identify and take the appropriate action in the case of an emergency.

It is delivered by our Community and Education Trainers through a mixture of:

  • Facilitator led theory work
  • Group discussion
  • Case studies
  • Video examples
  • Practical exercises

If you have any further questions, or want to know about future events,

please contact us at 081 270 4672

Follow us on our website or face book

We also offer online courses as well.


How to get your dog to take a tablet


Image showing a dog laying down and some pills next to him

One thing that is common to both human children and dogs is their hate of medicines. It’s easier with human children since you can convince them to swallow the bitter pill because it will make their discomforts go away, but there is no way to communicate that to a dog. If your dog is sick and you’re starting to fear that they will never get better because you can’t get them to take their medicine, don’t worry because we are going to teach you the most effective solution on how to get a dog to swallow a pill.

If you’ve ever taken your dog to the vet, you may have been impressed by how easily those professionals can get your dog to take their meds. They know how to work a dog’s throat to make them swallow without a fuss. We are going to introduce this trick to you, but even if this one seems too difficult, don’t worry because we’ve got other methods in our repertoire.

Image showing a woman trying to get a dog to swallow a pill

In today’s discussion, we will show you how to achieve a better percentage of success when trying to get your dog to down their medicine like a champ. After a number of trials, failures, and successes, we have put together one of the best guides to ensuring that pill nestles safely at the bottom of your dog’s stomach. Skipping any and all unnecessary formalities, let’s get to the business of the day.


We assume that you have consulted your vet before bringing that pill into play from the first place. Now that we have gotten that out of the way, it is time to get Fido to swallow it. Dab off the perspiration and watch how easy you can make things for yourself with a few simple tricks:


As promised, we are going to let you in on that magic-like trick that vets use to get dogs to swallow. All you need is your hands. Get the dog’s head in one hand, and the pill in another. If it’s a pill you’ve tried (unsuccessfully) to give the dog before, you might not want your dog to see it on the other hand. Tilt the dog’s head to the back ever so slightly. You should take care not to tilt the dog’s head back too much. Your dog will be uncomfortable in this position.

Image showing a person using the Pill Push Method

Drop the pill into their waiting mouth, but don’t attempt to open your dog’s mouth too wide. You’re trying to fit a pill in there, not a soccer ball. Make sure to keep your dog’s mouth closed by placing a hand on their snout. Then, go on to massage the throat/neck to aid swallowing. Once you have felt a swallowing motion around the throat, it means you have succeeded. Simple as that. Although, you have to take great care to avoid choking your dog.

If your dog coughs out harshly or if the long-awaited swallowing motion just doesn’t come, the pill might have gotten stuck. Try to get the dog to drink some water or take them to the vet immediately.


If the first method seems too risky or difficult, don’t worry because we’ve got another solution for you. You can use a pill dropper. For those who do not know, a pill dropper looks like a regular syringe which has been modified to hold pills instead. Use this piece of equipment to hold the pill you want to give to the dog. Slightly tilt their heads backward and drop the pill into the dog’s mouth.

Image showing pill-gun-for-pets

Of course, Fido would want to spit out the bad-tasting thing that you just put into his mouth. But you can avoid this by rubbing the neck gently, like in the first trick. Before you know it, the pill is finding its way through your dog’s alimentary canal.


An important thing to take note of when using a pill dropper is where the pill drops. If you’re not careful, you might drop the pill too far down the throat. Not only could that cause them to gag, the pill will not go down, and you would have left a bad taste in your dog’s mouth—literally.


If you’d prefer it if your dog could swallow the pill on their own, this method may be the one for you. However, for this method to be considered at all, check with the vet first to see if the medicine can be used with food. Once you have been given the green light, carefully mix the medicine into your dog’s food.

Of course, make sure the pill concentration in the food is not significant enough for it to be easily noticed. Likewise, this method works the best when your pet is very hungry. Even though they may pick up the scent of the pill in the food, they would be too hungry to mind anyway.

Image showing a woman giving her dog a pill with food

Choose a kind of food that is soft so that the pill can easily mold into it. Make sure the choice of food has a strong, sweet scent on its own. We want to mask as much of the medicine odor as possible to make the dog feel comfortable.

You can also slip the pill into snacks, or coat it with cheese/peanut butter. That would make the pill even more appealing to your dog and also, reduce the poor taste of medicine that we all know. Don’t get frustrated if it doesn’t work. Some dogs would just be so turned off by the pill that they don’t take the food at all. Some other dogs may even be clever enough to eat the food around the pill. If that happens, don’t lose hope just yet.


Distracting your dog is a good way to get them to take their pills. This produces one of the best results because the dog is calm, relaxed, and almost eager to take the pill. Don’t worry, we’ll tell you how now:

  • Take some very delicious treat (could be chicken or any other really juicy piece of meat) and put the pill into it.
  • Set the treat with the pill aside then feed the dog two pieces of the same treat.
  • While the dog gobbles those up, he will come back to you for even more. On the third try, toss the dog the treat that has the pill in it.
  • Being none the wiser, the dog may eat it up and faster this time because he wants to get ready for the next one.
  • Don’t disappoint. Give the next one to make the dog feel better about the strange taste in their mouth.

This way, you’re happy and the dog is happy too. It’s a win-win for everyone. But if the dog is smart enough to avoid that one treat that has the pill, take a look at some of our other options.



This works best if there is another dog in the family, but a willing person can act as the competition too. Using a treat that can be eaten by a human too, go ahead and place the pill in one chunk of the treat and set it aside.


Give one piece of the treat to the dog, and let him see you give about two others to the competition. This will make the dog want to take as much of the treat as they can before the stock runs out.

See where we’re going with this? When your dog is already very excited about eating the next one, give him the treat with the pill. If your dog is still too smart to take the bait, however, try the next trick.


There are some pills that your dog is bound to reject time and again. Tramadol is one example. We won’t blame them, given the foul taste and smell that linger around the pill. However, you can mask the smell and taste by buying a gel cap.

Premium Clear Empty Gelatin Capsu

The gel cap, which can be obtained at most drug stores, would be used to encapsulate the pill before you give it to your dog. Again, we would advise that you check with your vet, but these gel caps are usually safe because they dissolve into harmless substance in the body of your pet. You can then combine this step with any one of the tips above if your dog is apprehensive about the strange thing you’re giving them. If even gel caps fail, however, you’ve still got one last option.


Pets are notorious for not wanting to take their medicines; therefore, you are not the only one facing this kind of problem. That is why some pharmacies have made special provisions, and all you need do is ask.

Close-up image of pills on a wooden table

Compounding pharmacies can help mix some special flavors (meat, beef, chicken, fish, etc.) into your dog’s pill. That would make the dog want to take the pill. Without masking the pill or disguising it in any way, you would be surprised that all you need to do is drop the pill where the dog can smell it.

And we are at the end of the list. With seven methods, all of which have been properly vetted (all pun intended) for a good percentage of success, it seems like one can simply not go wrong, right? Well, it’s still better to have a Plan B.


Each dog is an individual, and you may have ended up with one that would defy all of the methods above. When that happens, there is still hope left.


Dogs can smell you, and in the same vein, read your body language. If your dog is not taking the pills, it might be because they have noticed something off about your body language. In the time leading up to giving your dog the pill, make sure you are relaxed. When talking to the dog, assume the same calm and soothing voice you would typically use to bond with him at any other time.

Image showing a little dog scared

If you want to use the pill dropper or hand method, chasing after your dog and/or getting him cornered is surely going to be counterproductive. Essentially, what we’re saying is that you want the dog to be in the best state of mind before you give them anything.


Have the pill coated in something that would help it slide easier down your dog’s throat. Here, some butter or cheese would be very appropriate. Introduce the pill into the dog’s mouth and squirt a little bit of water (or meat broth) into the side of the dog’s mouth. That would improve their rate of swallowing and ensure that the pill doesn’t stick on the way to the bottom.


At the end of it all, make sure you reward the dog with a treat. Even if they proved to be most stubborn, that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a treat. After all, you just put them through one of the most unpleasant experiences of their life.

Image showing a person giving a treat to a dog


The trick here is that when your dog starts to associate the after-pill time with treats, a walk, or some other fun game that allows you both to bond, he might be less apprehensive the next time you come up with a pill in your hand.


So, there you have it. To be frank with you, what you are about to do is no easy task. For one, your dog can’t simply be commanded to chew the pill like you would do to your kid. But no worries because with enough care and patience—and of course, by using one of our tricks—you’ll emerge victorious in the end.

Image showing little dog looking nervous at the camera

See how easy it can be to get your dog to take their pill now? Go on and try any one of our tricks the next time your vet feels Fido needs medicine. Let us know the result in the comments section below. For those that have been giving their dogs pills for a while, we want to hear your thoughts and methods too.

crate training

Crate Training Your Dog

It has been said that you «can’t teach an old dog new tricks», but is this spoken belief really just a fallacy?

Age can trigger a broad scope of things in dogs from health ailments to behavior changes causing you to have to do the unimaginable, crate training a dog well beyond its viewed «training years».

The daunting task ahead can leave you not knowing where to start, especially when dealing with an older dog that is set in its ways.

Our complete step-by-step guide is here to help you when you have to go through the presumed difficult process of «teaching your old dog a new trick». In this case, training your older dog to adjust to its new safe place, its soon-to-be treasured crate.



German Shepherd

Determining when it is necessary to implement a crate into your dog’s life can be a tricky task, particularly when you are dealing with an adult dog. As dog’s progress through certain stages of their lives some unforeseen events may start to occur varying from health conditions that may alter their behavior or simply a change in their behavior from factors occurring in your home.

Dogs are creatures of habit and rely on you to provide them their expected daily routine. Any variances in their daily routine can provoke some unexpected reactions that can possibly put your home (especially your furniture) at risk, and let’s be real there is nothing worse than coming home to find your beloved household items destroyed. The aftermath of a confused and spiteful dog can be quite a burden to deal with and that is when crate training might become your best next step in shielding your home.

Soiling accidents in your home can also lead you to the path of crate training your dog. In many instances, mature dogs can begin to develop health conditions where they lose control over their bowel movements, causing quite the pungent odor in your home. Some health conditions in dogs that may lead to this symptom can include a UTI, bladder stones, bladder cancer, kidney failure, urinary incontinence, prostatic disease, pyometra, Cushing’s disease, and diabetes mellitus. If you have ever experienced the unpleasant odors that come along with dog accidents in your home then you know how hard it can be to get rid of this smell. There are many products out there that promise to remove the urine odor smell from your furniture and floors but does it really work? The vast majority of pet urine eliminating products lack the capabilities to really remove the odors at the source of the accident, typically they just employ masking agents to cover the odor. When cleaning up pet urine, using a product that removes the pet urine odor rather than just masking it is critical in actually eliminating the odor completely. Companies like OdorKlenz work to actually eliminate the odor at the source rather than mask it like others.



Preparation is key when coming up with your plan of attack for crate training your older dog. There are many factors to consider when devising your training plan for your dog and its new crate. Walking step-by-step through the process will make your goal of crate training your dog just a little bit easier.


The size of your dog’s crate can be a tremendous factor in the crate training process. Picking the perfect size can be hard though. We are inclined to want to buy a larger size crate to give our dogs ample amount of room, but this is really doing a disservice to your dog. You want the crate to be sized correctly to promote your dog to not make a mess and to help control potential accidents. The ideal size for your dog’s crate should be large enough for your dog to stand up, turn around, and lay down easily. That provides your dog ample amount of room without the risk of them wreaking havoc in their crate.


Choosing the perfect material for your dog’s crate can really make or break how they receive their crate. There are three main crate materials to select from when purchasing a crate for your dog. The most popular crate material for many dog owners is a wire material. This material is favored because they are good for storing with their ability to fold flat as well as their economical price point. They also are very sturdy and more secure for housing your pet. The other two materials to choose from include plastic and fabric crates, which both have their upsides and downsides. A plastic crate tends to be of the bulkier size and can’t be consolidated, which takes up more space in your home. Plastic crates tend to be more useful, however, when used for transporting of your dog, especially for airline travel. Whereas fabric crates are better suited for dogs who are well-trained because of the lack of secureness of this crates material.


One of the most difficult steps in crate training your older dog is without a doubt getting them familiar with their new sacred area. Placement of the crate can be an essential part of the process of crate training, by making sure you put it in an area of your home that is comfortable to your dog can help tremendously. Slowly introducing your pet to the crate is the best way to build familiarity with your dog and its crate. You can start by placing a favorite toy or treat in the crate to lure your dog to investigate its new area. Another thing you can do is put your dog’s favorite bed or blanket in to get there smell in their new environment helping them to get more comfortable in their surroundings.


Dogs are creatures of habit like we discussed earlier and having a set training schedule can help them in the crate training process. A good general rule to follow is one hour in the crate for each month of age. For older dogs spending the night in the crate shouldn’t be too difficult. It may be helpful to start them out in your bedroom overnight if that is the area they are used to spending the night. As your dog becomes more familiar and accepting of this crate time, you can gradually transition them into the area that you wish to place their crate in your home.


Pee accidents can happen even when dealing with an older dog, especially when your dog is confined in a space- such as its crate- overnight. When your dog has a pee accident it can be quite the hassle for you to not only remove the urine smell from the crate but also cleaning the smell from your dog. Sometimes your dog will be stuck in its crate surrounded by urine for some time before you get them out. And let’s be real the smell of dog urine is a strong smell that seeps into whatever it comes into contact with, whether that be the dog’s crate or the dog. Giving your dog and its crate a bath may be in order in some circumstances. Bathing your dog with a natural dog shampoo that works best in removing odors is important when you are working to get rid of the dog urine smell on your pet. As well as making sure to use an effective dog urine neutralizer in your dog’s crate when this kind of accident occurs.

There are several solutions to implement when pee accidents start to happen. Firstly, make sure you are taking your dog out regularly. This may mean you need to start a routine of getting up and taking your dog out 2 to 3 times a night. Also, it may be necessary to remove soft material like blankets and towels from your dogs’ crate. This could be a contributing factor to the pee accidents because most dogs like pottying on soft surfaces rather than hard surfaces. If pee accidents keep persisting you may need to schedule a vet appointment to have your dog checked for medical issues such as a UTI or bladder infection.


To conclude, crate training your older dog can be accomplished with less effort then you think. Many dog owners have had to go through this process with their dogs’ due to circumstances that require them to take these steps.

By following the steps above, you can easily master crate training your dog. And not only will you be happy with the result but your dog will feel safe and comfortable in the confinement of its crate



It’s normal for dogs to lick their paws occasionally as part of their grooming routine. But when the behaviour becomes obsessive, it can be frustrating for owners. Persistent licking can often signal an underlying health problem. But because there are many reasons your dog could be licking their paws, it can be difficult to diagnose. When incessant paw licking occurs over a long period, the fur often becomes stained a rusty colour. But not only that, persistent licking can cause inflammation, soreness, swelling and even bleeding. Which is why it’s best to see your vet quickly so they can diagnose and treat the problem.

Why dogs lick their paws obsessively


A little light preening every now and then is perfectly normal. You may notice your dog licks their paws after being outside in the rain, after a meal, or while settling down for a nap. Licking is your dog’s way of keeping themselves clean and is often a daily habit for some pups. The licking is abnormal and can be a cause for concern when it happens for prolonged periods and multiple times in the day. When it’s all your dog does during their waking hours, the licking isn’t just a case of harmless grooming.  


why do dogs lick their paws Just like humans, dogs can have allergic reactions to various substances in the environment. Our pooches can develop allergies to certain foods, grass, floor cleaning products, garden chemicals and more. This can cause irritation to the paws, leading to itchiness, inflammation, swelling and an unhappy pup. Since the possible allergens are endless, identifying the cause can be a long and drawn out process. But it’s important to do the investigation work to put a stop to your dog’s painful symptoms. Treatment: Your first step is to have a chat with your vet. They will likely suggest carrying out blood tests to uncover the substance your dog is allergic to. Because when you identify the cause, you can take steps to avoid the problem or manage their exposure around it. But in the meantime, there are measures you can take to help relieve your dog’s itchiness. Wipe your dog’s paws with a wet wipe  after going for a walk to help keep the area free from possible allergens. Your vet may also prescribe antihistamines as a temporary measure to control your dog’s symptoms.  

Yeast infections

Yeast infections are a result of an overgrowth of fungus on your dog’s skin. The yeast thrives in moist areas that rarely see sunlight. Which is why paws and ears are the most common areas infection occurs. Especially during the winter months when paws are often left damp. Yeast infections usually cause skin irritation, a musty odour and an oily or sticky discharge. It’s important to note, yeast infections are often a secondary infection to an underlying problem. An overgrowth of yeast is often caused by dietary deficiencies, a compromised immune system or an allergy. All dogs need a balanced diet to build a healthy immune system. This means they can fight off an infection before it has a chance to take hold. Treatment: Your vet may suggest changes to your dog’s diet. Either as a way to boost your dog’s nutrient intake, or to help rule out a potential food allergy. If the problem is severe or persistent, they may also suggest running blood tests to help uncover the cause. As some breeds like West Highland Terriers, Cocker Spaniels and Shih Tzu’s are more predisposed to developing yeast infections, your vet may also recommend a specific anti-fungal or anti-bacterial diet. These special diets essentially reduce the amount of sugars and carbohydrates which the fungus needs to thrive. Your vet may also suggest washing your dog’s paws with an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal shampoo every couple of days to help fight the infection.  

Foreign bodies

why do dogs lick their paws It’s a good idea to check your dog’s paws regularly for anything that may be lodged in the pads or between the toes. Grass seed is a common culprit for paw irritation during the summer months. The seed can find its way into the skin and cause a painful abscess. Splinters, thorns and glass can also pose a risk to paws on walks. So if your dog suddenly starts licking obsessively, checking for anything stuck in the paws should be your first port of call. Treatment: You may be able to remove the foreign body yourself. If after removal there’s no open wound, clean the area and keep an eye on it. If the area is bleeding, it’s inflamed or you can’t see anything obvious, always seek help from your vet.  

Impacted anal glands

All dogs have two anal glands that are designed to release a unique scent when they poop. These glands should naturally release every time your pooch goes to the toilet. But if your dog often has soft, loose stool, they can fail to empty. When that happens, this stinky fluid builds up inside the anal gland and becomes impacted. This can be uncomfortable for dogs. And while some dogs try to relieve the discomfort by licking the area or scooting their butt along the floor, paw licking can be another symptom. Treatment: The best treatment is to have your dog’s anal glands emptied by a professional. Either your groomer or vet will be able to do this for you. If this is in fact the cause of your dog’s paw licking, you should see symptoms ease in the next day or so.  


why do dogs lick their paws Most dogs were bred for specific jobs to work alongside their fellow man. But with many dogs left home alone all day, our pooches can become frustrated and bored. When this happens, it can lead to destructive behaviours and outlets like paw licking or chewing. In this case the problem is behavioural and has developed into an obsessive habit. Dogs thrive best when they’re given both mental and physical stimulation every day. And the best treatment is to use distraction by filling their day with other activities. Treatment: Give your dog an outlet for their boredom. Ensure they’re regularly exercised for at least 30 minutes a day. Don’t leave your dog home alone or locked in a crate for long periods. Provide mental stimulation in the form of brain games, training sessions and meeting new dogs and people.  


Anxious paw licking is another behavioural issue dogs can develop. For anxious dogs, paw licking can become a coping mechanism. It can become a self-soothing habit and a way for them to relax in certain situations. Anxiety can be caused by numerous factors, including separation anxiety, moving home, meeting new people or a new baby. If your dog’s anxious licking isn’t accompanied by redness, inflammation or swelling, this is usually nothing to worry about. But if it becomes compulsive, the licking can be harmful to their skin, creating painful hotspots on the paws. Treatment: The first step is to find out what’s causing your dog’s anxiety, and a behaviourist can help with this. They will analyse your dog’s behaviour to uncover your dog’s specific ‘triggers.’ From there the behaviourist will suggest ways to help relax your dog, and may also suggest ways to help your pooch cope around the trigger through counter conditioning.  

Fleas and ticks

why do dogs lick their paws Fleas and ticks can cause itchiness and irritation to your dog’s skin. And if your dog is allergic to these pesky parasites, the reaction can be even more severe. Treatment: The best method is prevention. Keep your dog up-to-date with their flea and tick medication to keep the critters at bay. There are plenty of over-the-counter medications you can buy from your local pet store, but medications bought through your vet are usually more effective. There are also natural alternatives you can use if you’re worried about the chemicals in these products. Your best bet is to speak with your vet about your options. When getting rid of fleas, it’s also important to treat your home in the process. Vacuum your carpets and upholstery regularly and take the bag outside to prevent reinfection occurring. Wash all your bedding and dog’s bedding. There are also chemical treatments you can buy. But be sure to stay safe and keep all pets away when treating the area.  

Bone or joint conditions

In some cases, the pain could be going on at a deeper level. A fracture, torn ligament or joint problems like arthritis can all cause paw licking. If the incessant paw licking is accompanied by limping, it’s time to see a vet. Treatment: Your vet will likely conduct a physical exam to assess where the pain is coming from. They may also perform an X-ray to help identify if there are any fractures or broken bones in the legs or paws.