What Is Pet First Aid?

Pet First Aid is the initial treatment given in a medical emergency. The purpose of pet first aid is NOT to replace proper veterinary care, but to preserve life and reduce pain and discomfort until proper care can be sought. The following are some tips for pet first aid until you can get your pet to a veterinary facility.

What You Can Do While Seeking Help

Staying calm is the single most important thing to do if your pet is experiencing an emergency. Contact your Veterinary Hospital or Emergency Center, inform them of the situation and get first aid advice. Keep your pet warm, as quiet as possible, and keep movement to a minimum; especially if there is possible trauma, broken limbs, or any neurological symptoms. Pets in shock or in pain may panic and bite. Remember to drive safely.

In the event your pet starts vomiting or has diarrhea, do not offer food for 24 hours. Ice cubes and small amounts of water are okay. After 24 hours, you may begin feeding 1/4 -1/2 of your pets normal diet. If vomiting and diarrhea persist, seek proper medical attention.

Cool the burned area with cold water as quickly as possible. Cover the burned area with damp towels. If the injury is due to a caustic substance, rinse with cold water for fifteen (15) minutes and contact your veterinarian as soon as possible

Seizures can be due to many causes. These range from eclampsia (milk fever) to epilepsy. If due to eclampsia, remove the puppies from the mother immediately. During the seizure, move objects away from your pet. Do not put your hand near its mouth and speak calmly. All dogs that are seizing or have had a recent seizure should be kept in a dark, quiet, confined area until medical help can be sought. Contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Clean the wounds immediately with warm water. If bleeding is from a cut pad or paw, apply a dressing using a piece of bandage or clothing and tape it in place with masking tape. If the bleeding persists and is soaking through the bandage, don’t waste any more time, since this is a medical emergency. Most bleeding wounds will require medical or surgical treatment. If the wounds are treated within four (4) hours, they can often be sutured. Deep cuts treated after four hours have increased risk of infection and complications.

This most commonly occurs in hot weather when dogs are left in cars, or during heavy exercise. The body’s temperature rises dramatically. Clinical signs are excessive panting and obvious distress quickly followed by coma and death. Reduce the pet’s body temperature with ice packs against the underside of the neck and the inside of the upper thigh. Alcohol on the ears and feet can also help lower the body temperature. DO NOT DOUSE AN ANIMAL IN WATER during a heat stroke. This can decrease temperature too rapidly or can lock the heat inside the body. Seek medical attention immediately.

Injuries to the eye are always very painful. If a foreign body (grass, gravel, stick, etc) can be seen, it may be possible to remove it by gently rinsing the eye with eye wash or contact lens saline solution. To prevent further injury, prevent your pet from pawing at the injured eye. Seek veterinary advice as soon as possible.

Keep your dog calm and still because the less it moves, the less venom travels throughout the body. Never cut the snake bite or try to suck out the venom. Do not place a tourniquet above the bite. The quicker you can get to the Veterinarian, the better the chances are for your pet’s survival. Anti-Venin is available for certain snakebites, but is not necessary for all cases. Knowing the species of the snake that bit your pet is important if identifiable. Your veterinarian can asses your pet and determine if Anti–Venin is needed. Snake bites are very painful, so handle your dog carefully to avoid causing more pain and possibly being bitten.

Anything that obstructs the airway prevents oxygen entering the lungs. Do your best to clear the mouth and throat of any obstruction such as vomit, saliva or foreign bodies such as grass, sticks or balls. Remember to be careful, as your pet may bite you in panic. You may attempt the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge the foreign body. Place your arms around your pets body with your hands in a fist just behind the ribs and above the lower tummy. Quickly and firmly thrust your two handed fist inwards and upwards. Repeat as often as necessary, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

If a product label is available, see if there are first aid instructions, such as whether or not to induce vomiting. You can usually induce vomiting with 5 ml (one teaspoon) of hydrogen peroxide orally. Keep a sample of the vomit for testing. We also recommend calling the Poison Information Hotline at (800) 222-1222. DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING IF YOUR PET HAS INGESTED A FOREIGN OBJECT (plastic wrapping, paper, etc.). If corrosive or toxic material is on the skin, rinse with cool water fifteen minutes. Bring a sample of the suspected poison with its container to the veterinary hospital.

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