“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” – Benjamin Franklin
April is Pet First Aid Awareness Month. Accidents and injuries happen – do you know what to do? Are you prepared to treat a wound or provide your pet with CPR? You may think you will just take your pet to the vet, but what if it is after-hours? Do you know the location of the closest emergency veterinarian?
There are plenty of resources available to help, but rather than wait for an emergency to find them, make it a priority this month to familiarize yourself with common emergencies and how to treat them. Take time this month to:
- Post your veterinarian’s contact information, as well as, directions to the nearest 24-hour emergency veterinarian in a spot where anyone in the family can find them. Also list the ASPCA’s Poison Control Center 24-hour Hotline – (888) 426-4435
- Pull together a first aid kit for specifically for your pet that will stay in a convenient spot for quick treatment. Having these supplies pulled together in advance will drastically improve the time it will take to treat an accident or injury.
- Download The American Red Cross Pet First Aid App on your phone and tablet. This useful app lists the 25 most common emergencies and provides step-by-step instructions on how to handle each of them.
- Local chapters of The American Red Cross offer classes on Pet First Aid and CPR.
- Make sure your pet is microchipped and the information on their tag is updated.
- Check the due dates on your pet’s vaccinations. Are they due for any boosters?
- Pet owners are also encouraged this month to prepare for a disaster and/or an evacuation.
- There are books available that you can have on hand that will walk you through an emergency situation, provide help in creating a disaster plan for your pet, and other common pet care questions and situations. Here are a few suggestions:
Information in this post is not recommended to take the place of a trained medical professional. Always refer to your veterinarian for advice and information. However, it is important to know signs of illness, distress, and injury.
- DEHYDRATION: To determine if your cat or dog is dehydrated, pull up on the skin between the shoulder blades. It should spring right back; if it stays tented this is a sign of dehydration.
- PET POISONING: Signs of pet poisoning include bleeding externally or internally, dilated pupils, drooling or foaming at the mouth, seizures or other abnormal mental state or behavior.
- SEIZURE: If your pet has a seizure, make sure it is in a safe place, but do not restrain the animal. Keep your hands away from its mouth as your pet may not know who you are during a seizure and could bite you.
- HEAT STROKE: Signs of heat stroke or heat exhaustion include collapse; body temperature of 104 degrees F or above; bloody diarrhea or vomiting; wobbliness; excessive panting or difficulty breathing; increase heart rate; mucous membranes very red; and increased salivation.
- BITES: Pets bitten by other animals need vet attention to prevent the wound (even if minor) from becoming infected and to check for internal wounds. Never break up a dogfight yourself because you could be bitten.
- BLEEDING: If your pet is bleeding, apply direct pressure using gauze over the bleeding site. If blood soaks through, apply more gauze (do not removed soaked gauze) until you can reach a veterinary hospital.