by Dr. Jean Hofve, DVM
Life is full of surprises…some of them very unwelcome. Any pet can be injured or become seriously ill, even at home, but especially outdoors, whether in a yard, dog park, or out walking or hiking.
It’s always best to be prepared to deal with such emergencies. Put your veterinarian’s or emergency clinic’s number in your cell phone or wallet, so that if their services are needed, you can call ahead so they’ll be ready. Keep a
pet first-aid kit in the house and/or car, and review the accompanying manual so you’ll have a head start on what to do in case of emergency.
One addition we recommend to any first aid kit is
Rescue Remedy. This flower essence formula can be used for an immediate calming effect in any stressful situation, or when your pet needs help overcoming a variety of emotional or behavioral problems [I.e., fear of loud noises, separation anxiety, excessive barking or hissing, and more] .
Homeopathic remedies are fast acting and effective, so having a few on hand can be useful, and sometimes even life-saving.
Here are some types you may want to consider:
Here are some practical tips that every pet owner should be aware
of for emergency situations you may encounter:
Poisoning. Most products that are dangerous for people are
also harmful to pets. However, things like chocolate, macadamia
nuts, raisins, and drugs like acetaminophen and ibuprofen are also
toxic to pets. Never give a human medication to your pet without
specific instructions from your vet. If you know or suspect that
your pet has eaten something toxic, contact your veterinarian,
emergency clinic, or Animal Poison Control Center hotline
(888-426-4435, available 24/7) immediately (there is a fee for the
consultation). Do not induce vomiting unless instructed to do so. If
your pet has already vomited, collect any remnants of the item or
substance in a baggie and take it with you to the vet.
If your pet’s skin or eyes have come into contact with a toxic
substance (such as cleaning products), wash it off with plenty of
water and mild soap if needed. Do not get soap into the eyes. If the
eyes are affected, flush with a steady, gentle stream of cold water.
Seizures. When your pet has a seizure, you can help them most
by remaining calm. Don’t try to restrain your pet, never put your
hands near your pet’s mouth during a seizure, but do move them away
from furniture or other objects they may hit or hurt themselves on.
If possible, time the length of the seizure and observe your pet
carefully so you’re able to give your veterinarian as clear, and
accurate, account of the event as possible. Contact your
Fractures or sprains. These injuries can be extremely
painful, and can cause any pet to bite. For safety, muzzle your pet
with a leash or a gauze strip. If possible, splint the leg to
stabilize it for transport. Move the animal onto a flat surface that
can serve as a stretcher or a blanket or rug that can be used as a
sling. See veterinary care immediately.
Bleeding. If the pet is stressed, use a muzzle. For minor
bleeding, such as a toenail, a styptic pencil can be used. For more
serious wounds, cover the area with a gauze pad, clean cloth, or
even folded newspaper (which is relatively sterile), and use direct
pressure (firm, but not excessive—which can inhibit clotting) with
your hands to stop the bleeding. Keep pressure on for 3 minutes, or
until the blood clots is strong enough to stop the bleeding.
Choking. If your pet has difficulty breathing, is pawing at
the mouth, or makes choking sounds when breathing or coughing, it
may be choking. Look into the pet's mouth to see if a foreign object
is visible. If you see an object, you can gently try to remove it
with pliers or tweezers, or slip a spoon behind it and pop it out;
but be careful--it is very easy to push the object further down the
throat, which could make the problem worse. Don't waste time fussing
with it; get your pet to a veterinarian immediately.
If the pet can’t breathe or collapses, you can do a sort of modified
Heimlich maneuver. Lay the animal on its side, place your hands on
the rib cage, and apply firm quick pressure, or strike the ribs
firmly with the palm of your hand a few times. The idea is to push a
burst of air out of the lungs to eject the object out from behind.
Repeating until the object is dislodged or you arrive at the
Emergency treatment and first aid for pets should never be used as a
substitute for veterinary care, but it may save your pet's life on
the way to your veterinarian and/or emergency veterinary facility.
Remember, a sick or injured pet may be in pain, scared, and
confused, which can make it unpredictable. Even the calmest,
gentlest pet may bite or scratch if injured. Handle the animal with
a light touch and appropriate caution, and keep your hands and face
away from its mouth.
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guest authors, and/or veterinarians concerning animal health issues and animal care