Tip of the Month

12/4/2013 Pet First Aid

Emergency First-Aid Preparedness

Preparation Is Key

During their lifetime, our animal companions can get into trouble that requires our assistance. Some of the problems might be minor, as in small scrapes and cuts, but some of the situations could be life-threatening and require first aid and even CPR. Being prepared could affect the outcome and make a difference between life and death.

Learn Pet CPR

Every pet owner should take a first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) course (which are offered by multiple animal healthcare organizations) to increase the chances of a positive outcome should an emergency arise. During the course, you will learn what the animal’s “normal” condition is in order to recognize problems when they occur. It will also give you correct handling guidance while waiting for veterinary assistance.

Address Urgent Situations

What type of situations might need urgent attention? Respiratory issues should be addressed immediately, as well as bleeding, seizures, trauma, allergic reactions, “bloat,” and choking, to name a few. Keep in mind that you will have to restrain an animal that is in pain or discomfort, so make sure you know how to protect yourself. Have a muzzle ready, even for the sweetest dog who’s in pain. Use blankets and leashes for safe handling. If you get bit, the focus will be on you instead of the pet. For cats, you also need to consider safe transport; you should always have a cat carrier handy.

Have A Pet First Aid Kit

Having a first-aid kit for your pet is a great idea. It can be as simple as some sterile gauze, self-adhesive bandages and a leash that you can use as a muzzle. Other items to consider including are: a thermometer, icepacks if the temperature is too high, an antiseptic, safety gloves, tweezers and scissors. In addition, eye wash and antiseptic ointments are a must for any well-prepared kit, along with stabilizing materials. You can find ready-made first-aid kits for pets online and in most pet stores.

Remember that you might not fix the emergency situation, but your quick actions could influence the outcome. With education and preparedness, you are increasing the survival chances of your pets.

Get Veterinary Help

Even though you can properly assist your pet temporarily, you will need to seek veterinary help ASAP. During regular business hours, you can take your pet to the regular veterinarian; during after-hours, weekends and holidays, you will need to use an emergency facility. Make sure you know where an emergency hospital is located—have the name, address and directions listed with all your emergency information for easy access. You should also drive to that hospital to familiarize yourself with the route and parking. In stressful situations, even getting to the hospital can be a challenge. If possible and safe, call the hospital and let them know the nature of the emergency so they can prepare to assist your pet as soon as you arrive. Lastly, remember to bring your ID and a method of payment.

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