Something every pet owner should have a basic knowledge of. When you decide to have a pet, you take on the responsibility of being their caretaker, and most pet owners want to care for their pets to the best of their ability.
When you least expect it, that’s when you need it, so having some basic knowledge of pet first aid and CPR can save your pet’s life. Below are the basics for just about any pet emergency that will buy you some time until you can get your pet to the vet. If you have a puppy or a highly active dog, chances are you will need one of these tips at least once in their life.
If you suspect that your pet has eaten something toxic, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Pet Poison Hotline (888-426-4435) immediately. Unless instructed to do so by a veterinarian, never induce vomiting. Many toxins are corrosive, and vomiting may damage the esophagus or cause choking.
Should your veterinarian instruct you to induce vomiting, he will provide you with a recommended dose of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, based on your dog’s weight. (Do not use salt or syrup of ipecac.) Take your dog outside or cover the floor with newspaper. Measure the dose and use a plastic, not glass, eyedropper or syringe to administer the hydrogen peroxide into your dog’s mouth. If your pet does not vomit within five minutes, repeat the dose one more time. Since there are no at-home products that can be used to induce vomiting in cats, you’ll need to take your feline to a veterinary clinic for treatment. In either case, get your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
Cuts, Punctures or Bites:
All cuts, punctures and bites have the potential to become infected, so they need to be examined by a veterinarian. If your pet is bleeding profusely, cover the area with sterile gauze and a clean towel, and then apply direct pressure until a clot forms. If there is an object penetrating the wound, such as a stick, do not attempt to remove it. If the wound is not bleeding, remove any debris and clean the area with sterile saline solution or clean water. (Do not use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, which can damage the tissue.) Apply clean gauze and wrap a bandage around it to keep the area clean and prevent your pet from licking it.
Lay your pet on a flat board, and then strap him down to help prevent movement but avoid putting pressure on the chest, which can hinder breathing. If your pet has sustained a head injury, tilt the board so that your pet’s head is slightly above the body during transport. If you notice any broken bones, do your best to minimize excessive motion, but don’t attempt to splint them. This may only make the situation worse — plus, you don’t want to waste any time getting your pet to the veterinary clinic. Once inside the car, cover your pet with a blanket to help prevent shock. Even if your pet does not appear to be injured, it’s still critically important that you have a veterinarian examine him. Many pets suffer internal injuries that are not obvious, and they may be very serious if not given immediate professional attention.
If your pet is choking but he can still breathe, try to keep him calm — and get him to a veterinarian immediately. But if your pet’s gums or tongue are turning blue and he’s in obvious distress, place your hand over the top of his muzzle and lift it up to open the mouth (don’t cover or occlude the nostrils). For an object that is clearly visible, you can use needle-nosed pliers to remove it, but be careful not to force it farther down into the throat. Also, a pet in this situation may panic and bite, so be careful. If that doesn’t work, lay your dog on his side, and then place your hands at the very end of his rib cage. Push down and slightly forward, applying pressure in quick, firm strokes. If you are unable to dislodge the object, get to the veterinarian immediately.
If your pet has a seizure, try to move furniture and other objects out of the way to prevent further injury. Do not try to restrain your pet, and keep your hands away from your pet’s mouth — they will not swallow their tongues, but chances are that you will be bit. Since pets often lose bladder or fecal control during a seizure, you may want to place a towel under your pet. Talk to your pet in a calm and soothing manner while you time the seizure. Most episodes will last under five minutes. Regardless of how long the seizure lasts, your pet needs immediate veterinary attention.
Stings and Insect Bites
: Remove the stinger with tweezers or by scraping it with the edge of a credit card, then apply an ice pack to the site. Watch for any signs of an allergic reaction—hives and facial swelling are common. Some pets may go into anaphylactic shock; the most common symptoms are the sudden onset of diarrhea, vomiting, shock and seizures. If your pet is in shock, the animal’s gums will be very pale and the limbs will feel cold. If your pet shows any of these symptoms, seek immediate emergency care.
Hyperthermia (heat stroke):
Move your pet to a shaded or air-conditioned area and turn on a fan to circulate cool air. Wet the pet’s ear flaps and apply wet cloths (lukewarm, not cold!) to your pet’s neck, belly and groin. Get to the vet as soon as possible—heat stroke is often deadly and any delay in treatment can worsen your pet’s prognosis.
Hypothermia (falling in freezing water, left outside in freezing temperatures:
Move to a warm area and cover the pet with warm water bottles, blankets or towels. If using a heating pad, put several layers between your pet and the pad to avoid burns, and always set electric heat sources to low. Transport to medical care as soon as possible.
For heat burns, apply cool water compresses with a clean, sterile cloth. Do not apply ice, butter or any other ointment unless directed by your veterinarian (who you should call right away). If the injury is the result of a chemical burn, brush away as much of the substance as possible, wash the contaminated area with large amounts of warm (not hot) flowing water and get your pet to the vet.
Performing CPR on a pet:
WikiHow has a good article with diagrams and pictures on how to administer CPR to a dog at http://www.wikihow.com/Perform-CPR-on-a-Dog. To give mouth to mouth to a pet, Begin by sealing the dog’s lips. …Next, place your mouth over the dog’s nostrils and blow gently, watching for the chest to lift and expand. …Remove your mouth from the nose/muzzle between breaths to allow for air return. Administer one breath for every 15 compressions. Also follow the WikiHow on giving CPR