Are you prepared to take care of your pet in case of illness or an emergency? Do you know how to detect if your pet is sick? First aid is the first step in an emergency, to save lives, prevent further injury and ease the pain and discomfort of your pet until a veterinarian can be contacted. In an emergency, first aid training and skills can mean the difference between life and death for your pet.
Remember: Preventative medicine is an extremely important component for the health and well being of your pet.
Always consider the following to prevent illness and injury to your pet:
regular visits to your veterinarian
spaying and neutering
parasite awareness and control
skin, teeth and gum care
All of the following pet first aid treatments and situations should be followed by a visit to your veterinarian:
Removing foreign objects: Foreign objects such as porcupine quills can often be removed without sedation. Grasp the quill with a pair of needle nose pliers and pull straight out. Wipe the wound with antiseptic. If the quill breaks off, make a note where it is for the veterinarian to remove. Fishhooks, however, can be more difficult to remove. If the barbs are buried do not pull backwards. Instead, push the hook forward until the barbs of the hook are exposed through the skin, cut off the shank and remove the fishhook. Clean the wound with antiseptic.
Shock: Weakness, unsteadiness, weak but rapid pulse, glassy stare, dilated pupils, and cool skin are some of the signs that your pet has gone into shock.
Artificial Respiration: Rescue breathing should only be performed on an animal that has stopped breathing but still has a heart beat. The animal is in respiratory arrest and must be transported to a veterinarian. First, pull the animal’s tongue forward and clear the airway. Then close and hold the animal’s mouth tightly, placing your mouth over the animal’s nose. Blow into the animal’s nose until its chest rises and remove your mouth to allow air to escape. Repeat the breaths 10 times, one breath every three seconds, before stopping to reassess the animal’s breathing. Continue artificial respiration during transportation to the veterinarian.
Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR): CPR is not given to any pet that is still breathing or has a heart beat. DO NOT practice CPR on your pet.
Seizures: Protect the animal from hurting itself by removing any objects that could be knocked over. DO NOT put your hand or anything else in the animal’s mouth. DO NOT try to restrain or hold the animal. Time the length of the seizure and call your veterinarian.
Bleeding: Wrap the wound firmly with a sterile bandage. If the bleeding soaks through, apply a second bandage over the first. DO NOT remove the first dressing. If an object is sticking out of a wound, DO NOT remove it. Secure the object by placing a gauze or cloth ring around the base of the object and tie it in place.
Pet Burns: (Minor burns from boiling water or fire (thermal burns) or chemical burns from lye or acid products): Apply cold water or compresses and submerge affected area in cold water if possible. DO NOT apply ointment, oils or butter. Infection is a concern with all burns, so see your vet as soon as possible. DO NOT underestimate the seriousness of any burn: Even a burn on as little as 15 per cent of the body can be life threatening.
Marney Skinner is a Certified Pet First Aid Instructor and Certified Master Groomer. She is also the owner/operator of Creative Critters Pet Grooming Salon in Mission, BC.
Reprinted with permission from The Pet Directory – British Columbia Edition.