Emergency First Aid for your Pet

Emergency First Aid for your Pet

Dog and cat together on white background. Wide angle picture.

GENERAL TIPS

  • Always have a list of emergency numbers available. When calling for veterinary assistance, describe what has happened, give your name, telephone number, the animals name, breed, age, and do not hang up until the other party is off the line, in case they wish to clarify information
  • Never give human medications or leftover pet prescriptions to your animal without first consulting your veterinarian. Many human drugs are dangerous to pets (for example, Tylenol is extremely toxic to cats)
  • Animals in pain can react dangerously. Don’t get bitten; an easy muzzle can be made by looping a piece of gauze around an animal’s snout, and tying the ends at the back of the head.
  • When transporting an animal to a veterinary facility, covering the animal with a blanket will provide warmth (which aids in the prevention of shock), and decrease stimuli. Unconscious animals may vomit, which can be swallowed into the windpipe. To avoid this, transport your animals with the head elevated. Placing the animal on a blanket can aid in moving them.

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Resuscitation

If an animal is unconscious, ensure it has an open airway by straightening the tongue in the mouth and extending the head and neck. Assess the breathing, and provide mouth-to-nose ventilation if necessary.  Check the animal’s pulse, and start animal CPR (chest compressions) if required. If an animal is choking, slap the animal’s chest wall several times with its head down.  If the animal becomes unconscious, push upward on the abdomen and sweep inside the mouth to retrieve the foreign object. Continue to provide mouth-to-nose breathing until the animal starts breathing on it’s own.

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Controlling Severe Bleeding

Apply direct pressure by hand over the entire bleeding area. A pad of cloth or gauze held between the hand and wound helps control the bleeding and allows it to clot. If blood soaks through the pad, don’t remove the pad but add additional layers of cloth/gauze, and continue to apply direct pressure.  Bind the compress in place with tape or Vetrap. Elevate the wound above the level of the heart if the wound is on a leg. Do not remove objects that are stuck deep into a wound.

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First Aid for Minor Wounds

Wash your hands before starting to help your pet.  Use warm tap water, diluted peroxide or saline in a gentle stream for cleaning the wound. A syringe can be used to direct the flow of liquid. Superficial dirt particles, hair, and other debris should be gently flushed out. Do not try to probe or remove debris from deep wounds as you may dislodge a clot, and cause severe bleeding. Blot the wound dry with a sterile gauze pad and cover with the sterile bandage or dressing.
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Poisoning

If the animal is conscious and not seizuring, and the substance was recently ingested and is not a petroleum product, cleansing solution, or strong acid or base then you can induce vomiting.  Place 1 teaspoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide for every 10 pounds of the animal’s body weight (1-5 mls/kg) in the animals mouth. Save a sample of the vomit for the veterinarian.
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Skunk Spray

Rinse the eyes with lots of lukewarm water immediately. If a commercial product can be purchased at a local pet store or veterinary clinic, administer according to package directions before other treatments. If the commercial product is unavailable, a home remedy of one part toothpaste to four parts water can be applied, taking care to avoid the eyes. Rinse after 20 minutes.
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Insect Bites

If a stinger can be seen, pull it out and cover the area with cool compresses.  Animals can have severe allergic reactions like humans, so take the animal to a vet immediately if increased respiratory rate or effort is seen.
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Burns

For thermal or electrical burns, immediately apply cool water compresses to the site of injury and transport to the vet ASAP.
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Eye Wounds

A protruding eye should be kept moist with a sterile saline soaked sterile gauze dressing, and transported to the vet.  Penetrating foreign objects should not be removed.  If a substance was sprayed into the eyes, rinse thoroughly with sterile saline.
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Fractures

Never try to push a protruding bone back into position.  Open fractures should be covered with sterile saline soaked wet dressing applied over the opening and bone, and the limb immobilized.  A rough splint can be made with a section of newspaper and secured with any type of tape.  Discontinue if the animal objects violently; just try to transport as gently and quickly as possible.
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Heat Stroke

Record the animal’s temperature with a rectal thermometer.  Cool the animal off by wetting the fur with cool water, or by laying wet towels over it.  Seek veterinary attention immediately.
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Normal Vital Values

Heart Rate (per min):  Cats: 130-220
                                          Small dog: 110-180
                                          Medium dog: 80-120
                                          Large dog: 70-100
Respirations (per min):  20-40
Rectal temperature: 37.5-39.5 C (99.5-103 F)
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