I don’t know about you but if something happens to a person – whether it be a friend, family member or stranger on the street – if I see a medical emergency I know I can help by dialing 911. While I do know human first aid and CPR, I feel comfortable knowing that if my adrenaline is pumping the EMT’s are on their way. With my pets – despite being trained in all aspects of pet first aid and CPR – I don’t have the luxury of waiting for an ambulance team to show up – and neither do you.
Despite our best practices and intentions, accidents can and will happen. Its being prepared that makes all the difference – often the difference between life and death, stress and calm, and pain and comfort.
If any medical emergency occurs with your pet, you are going to the vet, but what you do before can matter most.
Knowing some pet first aid skills and especially pet CPR – we’ll cover this later – will be the best tools in your toolbox for stabilizing your pet for a safe ride to the vet. I wanted to share with you five of the most common emergency situations — and the best course of action you can take for your cat or dog. This is a five-part series, so to kick it off here is number one:
- Issue: Cuts, Punctures or Bites
Obvious major wounds and injuries require immediate veterinary care, but there are some important things you can do to limit the damage during transport and prior to arrival at the veterinary hospital. If your pet is bleeding profusely, cover the area with sterile gauze or as clean and absorbent of material that you can find. Then apply direct pressure until a clot forms or the blood flow decreases. Do not remove pressure while checking to see if the bleed is still occurring as you could dislodge a clot that was forming. Release a finger or two to look at the material you are using for blood that has soaked through. If there is an object penetrating the pet – such as a stick – do not attempt to remove it, instead wrap it to immobilize it and help reducing bleeding.
If the wound is minor like a scrape, cut or puncture; remove any debris and clean the area with sterile saline solution. Do not use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, which can damage the tissue and cause pain as they are caustic. Minor cuts and scrapes usually can avoid a trip to the ER vet but keep a close eye over the next 24-48 hrs for any signs of infections. Puncture wounds are difficult to find, should never be covered and are best treated by a veterinarian as bacteria from the puncturing object has most certainly been injected into the pet.
More often than not a cut, puncture or bite is best treated with first aid. Some sever wounds need surgery to put in drains which is what happened to the pup in the first picture posted above. In both situations where the dogs pictured were injured, their recovery was made better by applying first aid to help prevent infection and most importantly – finding the wounds! Some people will miss wounds on their pets because fur can easily hide them, especially on a cat. One of the best things you can do daily, is pet your pet. The next best thing is finding the issues and knowing how to treat them best – and that is where learning pet first aid and CPR comes into play.
So go play with your cuddle companion right now and when your playing, be sure to give them a good once over and check for any wounds. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s topic, we’ll cover poisoning; you don’t want to miss it!