Emergencies do happen. Making it to the vet can be difficult, especially in the middle of the night. That is why being familiar with Basic First Aid procedures for pets is a great way to minimize harm and prevent emergency situations.
First and foremeost: Advanced veterinary first aid should only be administered by certified individuals or a veterinarian. Even if you’re certified to administer first aid on people, don’t try to play veterinarian! The American Red Cross is a great resource for education on the subject and even offers courses in Pet First Aid. Here are some basic steps you can take to ensure that both you and your pet prepared for anything.
First Aid Supplies
Keep a list of phone numbers on hand including your veterinarian’s number, and others like the Animal Poison Control Center: 888-4ANI-HELP (888-426-4435) and a local emergency veterinary clinic. In the event something happens to you, keep a friend’s number handy who is capable of caring for your pet in your absence. It’s also a good idea to maintain your pet’s medication and vaccination history for reference. The American Veterinary Medical Association has compiled a comprehensive list of pet first aid supplies that should be in your emergency kit.
Basic Procedures and Treatments
As important as these supplies are, proper knowledge of their use is crucial. BestBullySticks encourages all pet owners to become familiar with basic pet first aid. To get you started, we’ve put together a brief guide below outlining some common pet-related emergencies and treatments.
One of the most common emergencies, symptoms include difficulty breathing, coughing and an excessive pawing of the mouth. First, look into your pet’s mouth to see if any foreign objects are present. If there is something blocking their airway, use tweezers or a pair of pliers to gently remove the object. However, be careful not to push the object further down the throat or spend too much time trying to remove it; you might be better off seeking immediate medical attention.
Limping or an outright inability to use a limb is usually an owners first sign of fractures or breaks. Pets should be immediately muzzled and checked for any bleeding. Carrying your pet can cause further damage and they should be placed on a stretcher for transportation. Never try to set a break or fracture yourself. Done improperly, this may cause irreparable damage.
Do not attempt to restrain your pet during a seizure. Doing so may injure you and your pet. Move any heavy objects your pet could bump into such as furniture and be sure to time the seizure (usually 2-3 minutes). After your pet has come back around, contact your veterinarian.
After muzzling your pet, identify the injured area. Using gauze or a clean bandage, apply firm pressure to the affected area for at least 3 minutes or until bleeding stops. If bleeding is severe and located on your pet’s legs, use an elastic band or clean t-shirt as a tourniquet between the wound and body. Once you’ve stopped the bleeding, seek veterinary attention.
More difficult to identify, there are a wide range of symptoms exhibited by an exposure to toxins. Vomiting, convulsions, diarrhea and weakness are among the most common. Do not induce vomiting. Instead, identify the source of poisoning and contact poison control.
If you ever discover you pet to be unconscious, administering CPR can save a life. The American Animal Hospital Association has assembled a thorough guide for performing pet CPR.
Of course, not everyone needs to be certified — or even take courses for that matter — but knowing how to respond and care for animals properly in an emergency situation is important. BestBullySticks hopes you never run into an emergency. Being prepared never hurts, though. So take the time to review the information above and if you are interested, enroll in the American Red Cross’ first aid course.
For even more information, check out our four-part series on animal first aid covering first aid kits and disaster preparedness, treating dog burns, treating dog bites, and CPR and Heimlich for canines.