Nobody wants to think of their pet needing emergency care, but it is always better to be prepared. In case of an emergency the best thing you can do for your pet is to get him/her to your veterinarian or an emergency clinic as quickly as possible, however there are situations where you can start the treatment process.
Some potential emergency situations might be:
· Animal fights
· Car accidents
· Cuts and other wounds
· Extremely cold weather (frostbite)
· Extremely hot weather (heat stroke)
· Insect bites/stings
· Loss of consciousness for any reason
· Physical injury
· Seizures – Especially ones that last for 15 minutes or more or ones that stop and start within minutes of each other.
· Snake bites
To prepare an Animal First Aid box the first step is choosing the box itself. You want to make sure it is transportable, durable, water proof, and non-locking unless you have very small children. A plastic tool box works well as a first aid box. Be sure to label your box “ANIMAL FIRST AID”, store it in plain view, and make sure all family members know where it is. You may want to make more than one so that you can keep one in the car as well.
Some information to include in your first aid box would include:
*Animal Poison Control – 1-800-492-2415 (there is a charge for using this number).
* Your veterinarian’s phone number including the emergency number if it is different from the office number.
*List of items you have in your first aid box.
* A copy of a good emergency book like Emergency First Aid for Your Dog by Tamara S. Shearer, D.V.M. published by Ohio Distinctive Publishing.
Items that should be included in your first aid box:
· 2 rolls of 3” gauze bandage
· 3 large garbage bags
· 12 gauze sponges – 3”X 3”
· Ace or Coban bandage
· Adhesive tape – 1”
· Alcohol (for cleaning instruments, not the pet)
· Antibiotic ointment (e.g. small tube of Neosporin)
· Benedryl capsules (25mg) or liquid (12.5mg per teaspoon)
· Dosage syringe or turkey-baster
· Eye Dropper
· Hydrogen Peroxide – 8 oz.
· Muzzle – preferably nylon
· Nail trimmers
· Paper towels
· Physoderm or Chlorhexidine scrub
· Rectal thermometer
· Saline solution 8oz. (As used for contact lenses)
· Telfa Pads (non-stick)
· Vodka (for antifreeze poisoning)
· Water soluble lubricating jelly (e.g. K-Y Jelly)
A few additional first aid items to keep on hand include a blanket to keep the pet warm and comfortable, a pet carrier to transport the pet safely, towels to restrain the pet, plywood board cut to the appropriate size for your pet and your car door to carry your pet safely in case of back injury or broken bones, and two 2-liter bottles with caps to use as hot water bottles for warmth or cold water for reducing body temperature in case of heat stroke.
Now that you have the First Aid box made, what do you do with it in an emergency? In the case of some common household emergencies, here is what you do…
Bee Stings and Insect Bites –
At the first sign of swelling, call your veterinarian to alert the staff that an emergency may be coming in. Start the appropriate does of Benedryl.
1-5 pounds – ½ teaspoon of liquid
6-13 pounds – 1 teaspoon of liquid
14-25 pounds - 1 capsule
26-50 pounds – 2 capusles
If your pet is known to be extremely allergic to insect bites or stings you should have a dose of epinephrine in you first aid box (your veterinarian can prescribe the appropriate dose).
Broken Bones –
If the back leg is broken, let the pet its own position of comfort and call your veterinarian.
If the front leg is broken, try to put a bulky bandage on to protect it from further damage.
If you think the back is broken, put your pet on a straight board and call your veterinarian IMMEDIATELY!
Is the pet breathing?
If NO, start CPR. Consult your first aid manual.
If YES, establish the cause.
*Look in the mouth for foreign objects or liquid.
*Use something to prop the mouth open to prevent accidental biting.
If the cause is liquid, hold the pet with the head lower than the chest to allow the liquid to drain out.
If the cause is a foreign object and it cannot be easily retrieved, LEAVE IT until you get to the veterinarian. (Trying too hard to retrieve the object may push it into the airway). Heimlich Manuever may be used on animals, however, be prepared by reading your First Aid Manual before this emergency occurs.
Cuts, Lacerations, Bites from Fighting –
If the wound is not bleeding profusely:
Clean the wound with saline and Physoderm. If Physoderm is not available use diluted peroxide sparingly.
If the wound IS bleeding profusely:
The most important thing to do is to stop the loss of blood. A pressure bandage or tourniquet is used here. Gauze pads, wash clothes, ans elastic bandages such as Coban or Ace bandages can be used as pressure bandages also. Remember, a tourniquet must be released every 5 to 10 minutes to avoid oxygen deprivation to the tissues. Always call your veterinarian to let them know you are on your way.
Heat Stroke (hyperthermia) –
Signs include: weakness, rapid panting, and dry hot skin.
· Take the pet’s temperature using rectal thermometer.
· Heat stroke temperature is usually 106 degrees and above. Normal temperature ranges between 100 – 102.5 degrees.
· Place pet in the shade, cool down with cloths or towels, place ice packs on head and neck but DO NOT ice your pet down.
· Call your veterinarian and transport your pet to their office as soon as possible.
Hypothermia (cold induced – weather or water) -
Signs include: depression, cold gums, shivering (occasionally the body is too cold to shiver)
· Get pet into sheltered area
· Put warm towels, clothing, blankets around the pet
· If the pet is small enough, place it in a tub of tepid (cooler than luke warm) water. Bring the water temperature up slowly. Supervise your pet and monitor its temperature with a rectal thermometer until temp returns to normal (100-102.5 degrees)
· Dry the pet and wrap it in blankets until it is dry
· Contact your veterinarian as soon as possible
Ingested Toxins –
· One tablespoon can kill a 60-pound dog.
· One hour later may be too late.
o Start giving vodka or the drink with the highest alcohol content you have in the house.
o Call your veterinarian and get there as quickly as is safe to drive.
Petroleum Distillates like Gasoline
· DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING
· Do give one or two tablespoons of vegetable oil, one cup of milk and bread, anything that will start soaking the substance up.
· Call your veterinarian and take the pet in ASAP
· Use peroxide to induce vomiting immediately
o Small pets – one teaspoon of peroxide & two teaspoons of water
o Medium to large pets – one tablespoon of peroxide & two tablespoons of water
These may be repeated every 15 minutes until vomiting occurs.
· Call your veterinarian and take the pet in for further protective treatment such as activated charcoal drench and Vitamin K therapy.
The main thing to remember in an emergency is to try to stay calm and focused on what needs to be done. Preparing yourself ahead of time will help you not to panic in a time of crisis. Although not all emergency situations are life-threatening, the sooner you can get your pet to a veterinarian, the better the outcome for them.