June is National Pet Preparedness Month. Preparation is key to successful management of an emergency. First aid for your pet consists of having the right supplies on hand, knowing what to do, and keeping a clear head as you put your first aid skills to work. It is important to know what to do in an emergency and just as important to know what not to do.
Pet First Aid – Have the Right Supplies on Hand.
Three things to have on hand in a medical emergency are
- Emergency phone numbers: your vet, and the Metro Animal Emergency Clinic.
- A pet first aid kit. You can buy a prepared kit or put one together yourself. June is a good month to double check your supplies.
- Your car keys. Unless the injuries are minor, you will likely have to transport your pet.
Pet First Aid – Know What to Do
We can’t be prepared for everything. Knowing what to do is an important first step.
• Animal bite - A bite wound may look small, but the damage could be extensive. Bites tear into layers of skin, and muscle creating a pocket which can become infected. If your pet is agitated, he may need a muzzle. If you can safely clean the area, remove any debris and flush with clean water or saline. No matter how minor it looks, because of the possibility of infection, this is a job for the vet.
• Breathing Problems – This is a critical emergency and you should get to an animal hospital as quickly and safely as you can. When a dog has stopped breathing, artificial respiration may be necessary. Be extremely careful, since your face will be very close to the dog’s mouth.
• Ingestion of poisonous substances. Ingestion is the most common way pets are exposed to toxic household products. If you suspect that your pet has gotten into something dangerous, call your vet, or the Metro Animal Emergency Clinic for advice and assistance. Important information to have on hand : the exact name of the substance the pet ate, how much they likely ate and how long ago it happened. This information will help to develop an effective plan of action. If possible keep a copy of the packaging of any product to answer further questions about its contents. At most, you may remove any material from your pet’s mouth if you can do it safely. If not, wait for instructions from the emergency vet.
• Bleeding - External bleeding may be controlled by applying a pressure dressing which you can make out of strips of gauze or other sturdy material. Wrap the injured area, applying pressure as you work. Watch for tissue swelling as this is a sign of blocked circulation. If this happens loosen or remove the bandage. Once a bandage has been applied, seek the services of a veterinarian to determine if sutures are required to close the wound. If bleeding is profuse or can’t be controlled , transport your pet to the vet or emergency clinic right away.
• Broken bones – Broken bones are painful, but may not be immediately obvious. Muzzle your pet as a precaution. If a limb is fractured, position it on a cushion, wrap it in a rolled up magazine or gently support it in your hand. DO NOT TRY TO SET THE FRACTURE. You are merely providing support. If you suspect your pet has a fracture, carefully transport her to the vet immediately,
Pet First Aid – Put Your Skills to Work.
Familiarize yourself with first aid techniques before an actual crisis occurs. If you find yourself in a pet emergency situation follow these simple rules:
Make sure your pet won’t bite or scratch
Make sure your pet -and yourself- are safe
Try to stabilize your pet
Contact your vet or emergency clinic for advice
Remain calm and confident – both you and your dog will feel more secure.
Still have questions?