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FIRST AID FOR PETS

Posted Sep 09 2012 12:00am

You get home from work, go in the door, and there to greet you is your dog...with blood all over its front feet...and your floor.  What do you do?  Within those first few seconds, it will be very important to make the right decisions.  You don't want to fret about the carpeting if your dog is in serious trouble, right?  A little planning ahead will come in very handy at a time like this.  You need to be able to evaluate the situation to determine what might possibly be the problem, whether or not it might be a life-threatening problem, and what you might be able to do to alleviate the problem.  Ideally, this all happens in those first few seconds.

This might be something that will require immediate attention from your veterinarian or it might be something that you can handle at home...at least for the time being.  Even if you need to get the dog to your veterinarian right away, there may still be some things you can do to help make the problem more treatable where you finally get to the pet hospital.  This stage of treatment is known as...FIRST AID.
A pet owner who has taken the time to verse themselves in the basic aspects of first aid will invariably give their pet a better chance to survive at some point in its life from an otherwise life-threatening problem.  Don't you think it's worth it to take a little time to familiarize yourself with the rudiments of pet first aid so that, in case your pet needs it, you're right there and ready?  I'm often reminded of the famous line which Rodney Dangerfield was known for: "I don't get no respect!"  And then, he would go on and relate how that when he was a kid, his family was so poor that when he got injured, all he got was "second" aid...rather than "first" aid.  No responsible pet owner wants to settle for "second" aid for their pet, so try to remember as much of this stuff as possible, write it down on a notepad, or print it right from the blog...whatever, but be ready!

Using what you know about first aid and deciding that your pet needs to see the veterinarian in a hurry are not mutually exclusive thoughts.  Employing what you know about first aid is frequently the first step toward getting your pet to the pet hospital.  The American Veterinary Medical Association has put together a list of some examples of situations that qualify as emergencies that may or may not benefit from some type of first aid before you get to the pet hospital.

13 animal emergencies that should receive

 immediate veterinary consultation and/or care
1.Severe bleeding or bleeding that doesn't stop within 5 minutes 2.Choking, difficulty breathing or nonstop coughing and gagging 3.Bleeding from nose, mouth, rectum, coughing up blood, or blood in urine 4.Inability to urinate or pass feces (stool), or obvious pain associated with urinating or passing stool 5.Injuries to your pet's eye(s) 6.You suspect or know your pet has eaten something poisonous (such as antifreeze, xylitol, chocolate, rodent poison, etc.) 7.Seizures and/or staggering 8.Fractured bones, severe lameness or inability to move leg(s) 9.Obvious signs of pain or extreme anxiety 10.Heat stress or heatstroke 11.Severe vomiting or diarrhea – more than 2 episodes in a 24-hour period, or either of these combined with obvious illness or any of the other problems listed here 12.Refusal to drink for 24 hours or more 13.Unconsciousness The bottom line is that ANY concern about your pet's health warrants, at minimum, a call to your veterinarian. Adapted from: https://www.avma.org/public/EmergencyCare/Pages/animal-emergencies.aspx Logically, there are some important things to know should you be faced with an emergency.  The AVMA has extended their advice to cover this as well:


7 things you should know in case of an

 emergency with your pet If you have an animal emergency, contact your veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic immediately. If you suspect or know that your pet has eaten or been exposed to a toxic substance or product, contact your veterinarian, emergency veterinary clinic, or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center [888-426-4435*] immediately. * a fee may apply*

A second poison helpline is also available at: Have a credit card handy when calling either one of these services.... 1.Your vet's emergency phone number; 2.The local emergency clinic number; 3.How to get to the emergency clinic; 4.Poison Control number; 5.How to perform basic CPR on your pet; 6.How to stop bleeding/apply a basic pressure wrap; 7.How to muzzle your pet (to keep an injured pet from biting you). Adapted from: https://www.avma.org/public/EmergencyCare/Pages/emergency.asp Pet First Aid When your pet has an emergency, being prepared is very important. Before an emergency strikes, be sure you know how your veterinarian handles emergencies or where you should go if you have one. For example, some veterinarians always have someone on call, while others use special emergency hospitals for things that arise after hours. You can also stay prepared for emergencies by putting together a pet first-aid kit. We cannot stress enough that you SHOULD NOT get on-line during a pet emergency or when your pet is seriously ill. In an emergency, first aid is not a substitute for veterinary treatment. However, before you are able to get your pet to a veterinarian, knowing some basic first aid can help. Always seek veterinary care following first-aid attempts. Bite Wounds Approach the pet carefully to avoid getting bitten. Muzzle the animal. Check the wound for contamination or debris. If significant debris is present, then clean the wound with large amounts of saline or balanced electrolyte solution. If these are not available, then regular water may be used. Wrap large open wounds to keep them clean. Apply pressure to profusely bleeding wounds. Do not use a tourniquet. Wear gloves when possible. Bite wounds often become infected and need professional care. Call your veterinarian. Bleeding Apply firm, direct pressure over the bleeding area until the bleeding stops. Hold the pressure for at least 10 straight minutes (continually releasing the pressure to check the wound will hamper the clotting). Avoid bandages that cut off circulation. Call your veterinarian immediately. Breathing Stops Check to see if the animal is choking on a foreign object. If an animal is not breathing, place it on a firm surface with its left side up. Check for a heartbeat by listening at the area where the elbow touches the chest. If you hear a heartbeat but not breathing, close the animal’s mouth and breathe directly into its nose--not the mouth--until the chest expands. Repeat 12 to 15 times per minute. If there is no pulse, apply heart massage at the same time. The heart is located in the lower half of the chest, behind the elbow of the front left leg. Place one hand below the heart to support the chest. Place other hand over the heart and compress gently. To massage the hearts of cats and other tiny pets, compress the chest with the thumb and forefingers of one hand. Apply heart massage 80-120 times per minute for larger animals and 100-150 per minute for smaller ones. Alternate heart massage with breathing. Please note: Even in the hands of well-trained veterinary health professionals, the success of resuscitation is very low overall. Success may be slightly higher in the cases of drowning or electrical shock. Call your veterinarian immediately. Burns (Chemical, electrical, or heat including from a heating pad) Symptoms: singed hair, blistering, swelling, redness of skin. Flush the burn immediately with large amounts of cool, running water. Apply an ice pack for 15-20 minutes. Do not place an ice pack directly on the skin. Wrap the pack in a light towel or other cover. If the animal has large quantities of dry chemicals on its skin, brush them off. Water may activate some dry chemicals. Call your veterinarian immediately. Choking Symptoms include difficulty breathing, excessive pawing at the mouth, blue lips and tongue. Be sure to protect yourself as well as the animal, as the pet will likely be frantic and may be more likely to bite. If the pet can still partially breathe, it’s best to keep the animal calm and get to a veterinarian as quickly as possible. Look into the mouth to see if foreign object in throat is visible. If you can, clear the airway by removing the object with pliers or tweezers, being careful not to push it farther down the throat. If it is lodged too deep or if the pet collapses, then place your hands on both sides of the animal’s rib cage and apply firm, quick pressure. Or place the animal on its side and strike the side of the rib cage firmly with the palm of your hand three or four times. Repeat this procedure until the object is dislodged or you arrive at the veterinarian’s office. Call your veterinarian immediately. Diarrhea Withhold food for 12-24 hours, but not water. Sometimes pets that appear to be straining are sore from diarrhea rather than from constipation. Your veterinarian can help you decide which it is and what will help. Trying at-home treatments without knowing the real cause can just make things worse. Call your veterinarian. Fractures Symptoms include pain, inability to use a limb, or limb at odd angle. Muzzle the pet and look for bleeding. If you can control bleeding without causing more injury, then do so. Watch for signs of shock. DO NOT TRY TO SET THE FRACTURE by pulling or tugging on the limb. Transport the pet to the veterinarian immediately, supporting the injured part as best you can. Heatstroke Symptoms include rapid or labored breathing, vomiting, high body temperature, collapse. Place the animal in a tub of cool water. Or, gently soak the animal with a garden hose or wrap it in a cool, wet towel. Do not overcool the animal. Stop cooling when rectal temperature reaches 103 degrees Fahrenheit. Call veterinarian immediately. Poisoning Symptoms include vomiting, convulsions, diarrhea, salivation, weakness, depression, pain. Record what the pet ingested and how much. Immediately call your veterinarian or poison control center. Do not induce vomiting. In case of toxins or chemicals on the skin from oils, paints, insecticides and other contact irritants, request directions on if and how to wash the toxin off. Seizures Symptoms include salivation, loss of control of urine or stool, violent muscle twitching, loss of consciousness. Move the pet away from any objects that could be harmful during the seizure. Use a blanket for padding and protection. Do not put yourself at risk by restraining the pet during the seizure. Time the seizure. They usually last only 2 to 3 minutes. Afterwards, keep the animal calm and quiet. Call your veterinarian immediately. Shock Symptoms include irregular breathing, dilated pupils. Shock may occur as a result of a serious injury or fright. Keep the animal gently restrained, quiet, and warm, with the lower body elevated. Call your veterinarian immediately. Vomiting Withhold food for 12-24 hours. Give the pet ice cubes for two hours after vomiting stops, then slowly increase the amount of water and foods given over a 24-hour period. Call your veterinarian. If you need to muzzle your pet use a strip of soft cloth, rope, necktie, or nylon stocking. Wrap around the nose, under the chin and tie behind the ears. Care must be taken when handling weak or injured pets. Even normally docile pets will bite when in pain. Allow the pet to pant after handling by loosening or removing the muzzle. Do not use a muzzle in a case of vomiting. Cats and small pets may be difficult to muzzle. A towel placed around the head will help control small pets. If your pet can’t walk A door, board, blanket, or floor mat can be used as a stretcher to transport injured or weak animals. If your pet’s emergency is not covered here, you should call your veterinarian immediately. Adapted from: http://www.healthypet.com/PetCare/PetCareArticle.aspx?title=Pet_First_Aid   First Aid Tips for Pet Owners  Written by Eloise Porter Being a pet owner is much like being a parent—by taking on a pet, you are taking on the responsibility of a vulnerable creature. In an emergency situation, it’s important to be educated and aware, so that you can quickly and effectively respond. Many emergencies are preventable if you can detect them early. Knowledge of basic first aid, preparedness, plus careful observation of your pet, such as changes in behavior or physical appearance, can be the key to saving your pet’s life. First Aid Supplies In order to ensure your pet’s safety, make sure to always keep supplies on hand. Gauze, adhesive tape, towels, or cloth can be used for wrapping wounds to control bleeding or muzzling an injured animal. In the event of the consumption of poisonous or harmful foods, Milk of Magnesia can be used to absorb poison, while Hydrogen Peroxide can induce vomiting. However, before treating an animal for poison, you should always contact a veterinarian or poison control center. A digital thermometer to check your pet’s temperature should be a “fever” thermometer, since the temperature scale of regular thermometers doesn’t reach high enough temperatures for animals. An eyedropper is essential for giving oral treatments, and can also be used to flush wounds. A muzzle and leash should always be in your possession to protect and transport your pet. If a stretcher is needed, you may use a board, floor mat, door, towel, or blanket. Basic First Aid Procedures Unexpected accidents happen, and you can’t always get your pet to a vet quickly enough. It’s important to know basic procedures so that you can administer preliminary first aid to your pet before it’s too late. Minor Injuries For less obvious and critical injuries, check your pet regularly for nicks and cuts. Sometimes they can be difficult to spot if an animal has thick fur, so it’s important to spread the fur and check meticulously for wounds. Poison and Other Critical Injuries Poisoning, burns, shock, heatstroke, bleeding, broken bones, choking, seizures, or other critical medical accidents may need immediate treatment before you can get your pet to a veterinarian, so it’s essential that you know what to do. Many foods and household items are poisonous to pets, so make sure you know which of these pose a danger to your animal. If possible, collect any material your pet may have vomited or chewed to present it to a veterinarian in order to help find the proper treatment. Seizures If your pet is experiencing seizures, keep it away from any furniture or household items that may hurt it. Do not try to restrain or hold down your pet until after the seizure ends. In the event of a fracture or break, muzzle your pet and transport it on a stretcher or blanket, being careful to support it completely. Bleeding Likewise, for a bleeding pet, muzzle it and cover the wound with a clean, thick gauze pad. Keep pressure on the wound in order to stop the bleeding.  Choking A choking animal can be recognized by its difficulty breathing, excessive pawing at the mouth, blue-tinged lips or tongue, or unfamiliar sounds when breathing or coughing. A choking pet may bite, so use caution and try to keep it calm. If you can detect a foreign object in your pet’s mouth, try to remove it with pliers or tweezers, being careful not to push it further into the throat. No Breathing or Heartbeat If your pet is not breathing, or has no heartbeat, you may have to perform rescue breathing or chest compressions. •To perform rescue breathing, close your pet’s mouth with your hand and breath into it’s nose until you see the animal’s chest expand and continue breathing once every 4 to 5 seconds. •Once you’ve secured an airway, but your pet still has no heartbeat, you may begin chest compressions by laying your pet on its right side. •Place one hand underneath its chest and the other over its heart. •Press down gently and massage its chest. For larger animals, you can press down hard 80 to 120 times per minute. For smaller animals, you may cradle your hand around its chest and squeeze it between your thumb and fingers, pushing about 100 to 150 times per minute. •You may alternate chest compression with rescue breaths until you can hear a heartbeat and your pet is breathing regularly. Tips for Handling an Injured Pet As loving and trusting as your pet is under normal conditions, injured animals can be dangerous. An injured animal becomes scared and confused, and can often react by biting, scratching, or attacking those trying to assist, so keep your face away from an injured animal’s mouth. Proceed slowly and gently in the presence of an injured animal, being aware of any agitation or fear. If the animal is not vomiting, you may wish to muzzle an injured pet to make sure you won’t be bitten. Try to stabilize injuries before moving a wounded animal, and call your veterinarian or an emergency clinic right away. To transport your injured pet, keep it in a carrier, blanket, or box to reduce the risk of additional injuries or an attempted escape.

Pet owners know the massive responsibility placed in their hands when taking on an animal. If your pet looks like it’s suffering or in danger, you must know the basic procedures for administering first aid. In addition to the guidelines listed above, be sure to have your pet’s medical record on hand and keep the phone number of an emergency veterinary clinic and animal poison control center readily available. It’s easy to become panicked when your pet is in a dangerous situation, but as long as you stay calm and know the basics, you can make all the difference in your pet’s survival.

Adapted from: http://www.healthline.com/health/pet-health/first-aid-tips-for-pet-owners This concludes the first part of First Aid For Pets.  The second part will be covered in next week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats and will feature more first aid tips for your pets, including a list of supplies that should be in your pet first aid kit, as well as CPR guidelines for dogs and cats and the benefits of CPR for your pet.  Be there!

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~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~




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