Pet First Aid: What to Know
By: Faith P.
Pet First Aid: What to Know: As a pet owner, you would want to keep your pet safe, but you never know what could happen. It would be best if you learned basic first aid for your pet. There are apparent differences in doing first aid on a person compared to your pet, so here are some basic things you should know.
*Disclaimer: We recommend that pet owners take a recognized Pet First aid course. This is for information purposes only and should not replace formal training
First Aid Kit
You should have a first aid kit for emergencies. Many things could be found in your first aid kit that you can use for your pet; there are things, however, that you should put in a first aid kit specifically for your pet.
- Blanket, muzzle, carrier or leash to secure your pet
- Copy of rabies vaccination
- Copy of medical records
These will be helpful if you go into a new vet clinic for emergency care. Everything else that should be in your pet first aid kit are the same things you would put in your first aid kit.
To begin, muzzle your pet. Even the friendliest pets could bite when they are hurt; it’s best to be careful. You can ask your veterinarian how to tie a muzzle using gauze. The only time you should not muzzle your pet is if they are vomiting. When your pet is injured, it is the best idea to keep them warm and as comfortable as possible. Please don’t try to hug your injured pet, and be sure to keep your face away from its mouth. This may scare them more or cause more pain. Check for injuries slowly and gently. Stop immediately if your pet becomes more upset.
Before you move or do anything to your pet, call a nearby veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic, so they can be prepared for you when you arrive.
If you find any open injuries, press a clean, thick gauze pad over them and keep putting pressure until the blood starts clotting. You should hold the pressure for at least three minutes before checking for clotting. If there is severe bleeding on their legs, you can use a tourniquet; it can be elastic or made of gauze. The tourniquet should place it between the injury and their body; every 15-20 minutes after loosen it for about 20 seconds. Try to get to a vet immediately.
Broken or Fractured Bones
If you have reason to believe that your pet has broken a bone, you should find a flat surface that you can use to help transport them. It would also be good to secure your pet to that surface with a blanket or towel. When you secure your pet, make sure that there is no pressure placed on the fractured or broken bone and chest.
When your pet is exposed to a toxic product, check the product label for instructions. If the label tells you to wash your hands with soap and water if exposed, you should wash your pet’s skin with soap and water. Please do not get the water in their nose, mouth or eyes. Call a veterinarian immediately. Suppose you know your pet ate something that could be harmful and has symptoms like seizures, going unconscious, or having difficulty breathing. In that case, you should immediately call either your vet, an emergency vet clinic or the Animal Poison Control Centre.
In the case of a chemical burn, you should first have your pet muzzled for your safety. You then should quickly flush the burned area with a lot of cool water. If it is a severe burn, put a muzzle on your pet, then apply compressed ice water to the burned area.
It may make you start panicking, but if your pet is not breathing, you must stay calm. If there is someone else around, get them to call your vet while you start helping your pet. First, you should check if your pet is unconscious, then you should open their airway by gently taking their tongue and pull it out of their mouth until it’s flat. Once you have done that, check to see if there is any object in their throat blocking their airway. You can then perform rescue breathing. To do this, close your pet’s mouth with your hand and breathe with your mouth directly into their nose until you see their chest expand. Continue doing this once every 4 or 5 seconds.
Don’t begin chest compressions until you’ve started rescue breathing. Once you’ve done that, lay your pet down on a stable surface on their right side. The heart will be in the lower half of their chest, behind the elbow of their front left leg. Put one hand under their chest for support while placing your other hand over their heart. Press down; press with more force for larger animals and with less force for smaller animals. This mainly applies to dogs.
For cats and other small pets, put your hand around their chest so your thumb is on the left side of the chest and your fingers are on the right side, then do compressions by squeezing your thumb and fingers.
Do 80-120 compressions per minute for larger animals and 100-150 compressions per minute for smaller ones. Don’t do rescue breathing and chest compressions at the same time. Alternate. Keep doing it until you can hear a heartbeat and regular breathing, or you have arrived at the vet.
You should never forget that your pet should go to immediate veterinary care after doing the basic first aid. First aid care does not substitute veterinary care. However, it could save your pet’s life until it can reach a veterinarian.