What do you do when your pet needs emergency care?
Although you usually can’t anticipate when your pet will need emergency first aid care, you can be ready nonetheless. What you need is a good general understanding of pet first aid. Of course, it isn’t a substitute for veterinary care, but what you do in an emergency may very well save your pet’s life until you can get him to a veterinarian’s office.
How to handle an injured pet.
The first thing to know is that when your pet is injured, even the most docile pet may bite. Take care that you do not get bitten! Here are important steps to handle your pet when he is injured.
- Remain calm. An excited owner will only exacerbate the pet’s anxiety.
- If the injury or illness appears to be life threatening, take your pet to the veterinarian’s office immediately.
- Approach injured pets cautiously. Injury or illness can cause your pet to behave differently than he normally does, and this behavior can cause further injury to the pet or injury to you.
- Call your veterinarian for advice and instructions.
- Do not tie or tape your pet’s mouth shut! This can cause the animal to be unable to breathe. If the pet is not vomiting, having difficulty breathing, or bleeding from the mouth, a muzzle can be used to prevent biting. Use it with care!
- If possible, confine your pet to a crate in your vehicle, or to a small space if not.
If your pet is bleeding, apply direct pressure to the affected area. A bandage might temporarily control bleeding.
If you think your animal has broken a bone, gently support the area, but be cautious; pain may cause your pet to bite.
If your pet is suffering from heat-stroke or exhaustion, cover it with a cool, wet towel and immediately get it to the vet hospital.
If your animal is suffering from cold exposure (hypothermia), cover it with a warm blanket and transport it to the nearest vet hospital.
Insect bites and stings can cause anaphylactic shock, which can lead to death. Get to the nearest veterinarian as quickly as possible.
If your animal has ingested something you think might be poisonous, call your vet and follow his instructions.
If your pet is having a seizure, leave it alone until the episode subsides. Remove anything from the area that might cause injury to the pet, and make note of the duration of the seizure.
If your pet is unconscious, attempt to clear the airway by sweeping a finger through the back of the mouth.
Use a towel or blanket as a stretcher and to keep the animal warm (or cool, see above) on the way to the vet.
Basic first aid supplies.
- Phone numbers for your vet, a 24-hour or after-hours emergency vet clinic, and animal poison control center.
- Current medical and vaccine history
- Current list of the pet’s medications, if any
- Nonstick bandages
- adhesive tape for bandages
- Clean towel
- Digital thermometer for rectal use