Americans are crazy about their pets — and with good reason! Our pets provide companionship, love, affection and loyalty. They’re always by our sides, looking for a treat, playtime, or absentminded pats. Though Pet owners have a responsibility to provide both care and affection for their pets, many are not familiar with basic pet first-aid. Familiarizing yourself with pet first aid, and first aid tips, can ease their pet’s suffering and help avoid a more serious injury until a veterinarian can be contacted.
Learning first aid for pets is not difficult. It typically requires a bit of focused knowledge, minimal training, and on-hand supplies. To learn more about how you can fulfill your responsibilities as a pet owner, check out these simple pet first aid tips.
Why You Need to Know Pet First Aid
In life, we should be prepared for the unexpected, especially with our precious pets. There are numerous situations where our pets might require immediate help. By training in some basic first-aid techniques, we can ensure that our pets remain healthy and calm, and that we do everything possible for them while awaiting treatment from a medical professional.
Many pet owners are aware that certain foods and plants can be toxic to pets. But do you know what to do if Bowser gets into the Halloween chocolate? Or if Daisy is overheated? Or if Biscuits is dehydrated? Would you be able to treat your lovable pet, or would it require a visit to the emergency vet service? Learning pet first aid can save you money in situations where medical treatment may not be necessary. In more serious situations, it can buy you valuable time that might make the difference between life and death.
With these useful, simple tips, you are better prepared to care for your sick or injured pet. Knowing what to do can decrease a sense of panic when something happens to your pet, and can allow you to better help your pet in frightening scenarios.
Stock Up on Supplies
The first step in providing care for your pet is to have a first-aid kit on hand. Most of us have basic supplies to treat minor injuries for humans, but fail to do the same for our dogs, cats and other pets. Some of the items in a pet first-aid kit can be found in your medicine cabinet, but others must be specially purchased for your pet. Be sure to keep the supplies in one place so that you are able to grab it quickly in case of an emergency.
First, make sure that you have all important information in your pet first-aid kit. This should include the number of your veterinarian, the number of an emergency veterinary clinic, and the number for animal poison control. When you are trying to take care of a pet that is hurting, you may not be able to recall these names or numbers off the top of your head. Keeping them with your pet first- aid kit can be incredibly helpful in these situations.
Next, put together some basic supplies. This should include gauze and strips of clean cloth for wrapping wounds, controlling bleeding or even to use as a muzzle. When a pet is hurt, it may act aggressively if someone is trying to help him, even a beloved owner. It is important to either have a muzzle or something that can be used as a muzzle for these situations. You should also have non-stick bandages or adhesive tape on hand–remember: never use regular human adhesive bandages on your pets as it could damage their skin or pull out their hair. Keep milk of magnesia, hydrogen peroxide, and activated charcoal on hand to absorb poison or induce vomiting if your pet has eaten something toxic, once you have consulted with a vet or poison control. You should also have a digital thermometer that goes up to a high (fever) temperature; because this thermometer must be inserted rectally, keep it separate from human first aid supplies. You should also have an eye dropper or large syringe to flush wounds or give medicine, and some type of stretcher or board to use to transport your pet if he or she needs further treatment.
Once you have assembled these supplies, you are then ready to learn how to use them to help your injured or ill pet.
How to Give Your Pet First-Aid
Before giving first-aid to your pet, remember that even the sweetest dog, cat or other pet may lash out when they are injured. When an animal is in pain and afraid, they may be unpredictable. With that in mind, perform any examination slowly and gently. Keep your face away from his/her mouth. If you need to transport your pet, do so gently and make sure that he or she is confined so that they are not injured further. Finally, call your vet beforehand so that they can be ready to treat your pet when you get there.
First Aid for Poison
If your pet eats something that it toxic— such as antifreeze, chocolate, cleaning products or other poisons — you will need to act quickly. Contact your vet or the animal poison control hotline to ask for advice; they may ask you to administer something to absorb the poison or induce vomiting. Alternatively, they may instruct you to seek medical care immediately. Gather any material that your pet may have vomited or chewed, and take it with you, along with the substance that your pet ingested. If your pet’s eyes or skin was exposed to a toxic substance, follow the instructions that you would follow if you were exposed to it, such as washing your pet with soap and water, or flushing his/her eyes with water. Follow up with your vet immediately.
First Aid for Bleeding
If your pet has external bleeding, the first step in treating it is to muzzle him/her. Then press a gauze pad over the wound, applying pressure until the bleeding stops. If the bleeding is severe, you can apply a tourniquet (typically on the limbs) to stem the bleeding until you can get the pet to the veterinarian for treatment.
If the bleeding is internal — such as blood in stool or urine, or bleeding from the nose or mouth — then you will need to seek medical care immediately. Keep your pet warm and quiet, and take him/her to the vet.
First Aid for Seizures
When your pet has a seizure, it can be an incredibly scary experience. The key is to remain calm, and do not try to restrain the pet. Instead, move him or her to a safe place, away from objects that can hurt him/her. Then time the seizure, and when it has ended, contact your veterinarian for further medical advice and treatment.
First Aid for Burns
If your pet has suffered any type of burn, muzzle him/her to prevent defensive biting while you are treating him/her. If the burn is chemical, flush it with large quantities of water. If it is a severe burn, apply an ice water compress to the area. Seek medical treatment to help your pet.
First Aid for Fractures
If your pet has broken a limb or other bone, the key will be to get him or her to a vet safely and with minimal pain. Use a stretcher of some sort, which could be anything from a blanket to a sled, to support your pet as you move him/her to the car. Make sure to muzzle your pet first to avoid them biting you. Try to keep your pet calm and confined on the trip to the vet to prevent further injury.
First Aid for Choking
If your pet is choking, keep in mind that you are likely to get bitten when you attempt to help them. If he/she can still breathe, the best course of action is to take your pet to the veterinarian. But if the situation is an emergency, look into his/her mouth to see if an object is visible. If so, then you can attempt to gently remove it with pliers or tweezers. If you cannot remove it, perform a version of the Heimlich maneuver for pets: place both hands on the side of your pet’s rib cage, and apply quick firm pressure. Alternatively, lay your pet on its side and with the palm of your hand, hit his/her rib cage firmly three to four times. Continue this process until either the object looses from your pet’s throat or until you are able to get medical care.
First-Aid for Heatstroke and Dehydration
If your pet is suffering from a heatstroke, immediately get him/her to a cool place out of direct sunlight. Keep a cool, wet towel around his/her neck and head, frequently replacing it to ensure that it stays cool and wet. Use a hose to keep cool water running over your pet’s body, sweeping the water away as it absorbs body heat. Then transport your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
Pet first-aid can make the difference in how your pet recovers from a medical emergency. Understanding these basic tips and techniques can help to save your pet’s life should something happen. If your pet has been hurt or becomes ill, remember to take him/her to see a vet as soon as possible, even if you have performed pet first aid. A medical professional can more fully assess your pet and ensure that he or she is healthy and comfortable after an illness or injury. At Paw Pals Pet Sitting, every member of our team is PetTech CPR and Pet First Aid certified.