Before an emergency occurs it is a good idea to know how your veterinarian handles emergencies and where you need to go if you have one. Some veterinarians have a 24-hour hotline and someone on call to handle your emergency. Others use a special emergency hospital for after hour’s problems.
While it is important that you know what to do in case of an emergency, you should never rely on an online source as a substitute for veterinary treatment or use it to treat a pet emergency or seriously ill. In an emergency, first aid is only that: FIRST aid. First Aid should only used to stabilize the pet before you transport it to a veterinarian. Knowing what to do can help save your pet’s life. Below you will find some common injuries you may have to face. But remember, you should always seek veterinary care following first-aid.
Bite Wounds Approach carefully to avoid getting bitten yourself. If you do not have a muzzle, you can use a strip of cloth, rope, necktie, or nylon stocking. Wrap it around the nose, under the chin and tie behind the ears or to the dog’s collar. Be careful handling weak or injured pets. Normally docile pets will bite when they are in pain.
Allow the pet to pant after handling by loosening the muzzle slightly. Next: check for wounds and remove any contamination or debris. If debris is inside the wound, and depending on the location of that wound, clean it with large amounts of clean water. Cover the open wound with gauze or clean cloth to keep it clean. Apply pressure to profusely bleeding wounds. Do not use a tourniquet. Bite wounds usually become infected. Your veterinarian will advise you about any ongoing treatment that is needed.
Apply firm, direct pressure over the bleeding area until the bleeding stops. Hold the pressure for at least 10 straight minutes (continually releasing the pressure to check the wound will hamper clotting). Avoid wrapping these kinds of wounds with a bandage that can cut off circulation. Transport your pet to the veterinarian immediately.
Check to see if your pet is choking on a foreign object. If an object is lodged in the mouth or throat and you cant remove it. If you can not remove it easily, you can use a few sharp blows to the shoulder-blade area or perform the Heimlich Maneuver to clear the airway.
CPR can also be done if an animal is not breathing. Place it on a firm surface with its left side up. Check for a heartbeat by listening at the area where the elbow touches the chest. If you hear a heartbeat but no breathing, close the animal’s mouth and breathe directly into its nose until the chest expands. Repeat 12 to 15 times per minute.You can also use the plastic bottle top as a mask. Place it firmly over the dog’s snout and blow through the open hole in the top of the bottle.
If there is no pulse, apply heart massage at the same time. The heart is located in the lower half of the chest, behind the elbow of the front left leg. Place one hand below the heart to support the chest. Place the other hand over the heart and compress gently. Apply heart massage 80-120 times per minute for larger animals and 100-150 per minute for smaller ones. Alternate heart massage with breathing.
Please note: Even in the hands of well-trained veterinary health professionals, the success of resuscitation is very low overall. Get to your veterinarian immediately.
(Chemical, electrical, or heat burns) Flush the burn immediately with large amounts of cool, running water. Wrap an ice pack in a light towel and apply it for 15-20 minutes. Do not apply the ice pack directly on the skin. If it is from a dry chemical, brush it off first. Water can activate some dry chemicals. Get your pet to the veterinarian immediately.
If your dog has difficulty breathing, excessively paws at the mouth, has blue lips and tongue it is choking. Protect yourself and the pet. The pet will likely be frantic and is likely to bite out of panic. If the pet can still partially breathe, it’s best to calm it down and get to a veterinarian as quickly as possible.
Look into the mouth to see if a foreign object is visible. If you can, clear the airway by removing the object with pliers or tweezers. Be careful not to push it farther down the throat. If it is lodged too deep or if the pet collapses, then place your hands on both sides of the animal’s rib cage and apply firm, quick pressure. Or place the animal on its side and strike the side of the rib cage firmly with the palm of your hand three or four times. Repeat this procedure until the object is dislodged or you arrive at the veterinarian’s office.
Withhold food for 12-24 hours. Allow water only. Sometimes pets that appear to be straining are sore from diarrhea rather than from constipation. Your veterinarian will be able to tell the difference. Home remedies can just make things worse. Call your veterinarian.
Muzzle the pet and look for bleeding. If bleeding is present, try to control it without causing more injury. Watch for signs of shock. Cover your pet with a coat or blanket to keep it warm. DO NOT TRY TO SET THE FRACTURE. Support the injured part as best you can. Transport the pet to the veterinarian immediately
Rapid or labored breathing, vomiting, high body temperature and collapse are all signs of heatstroke. Place the pet in a tub of cool water or run a garden hose over the pet. Cool, wet towel are also a good way to drop body temperatures. Do not over-cool the animal. See your veterinarian immediately.
Symptoms include vomiting, convulsions, diarrhea, heavy salivation, weakness, or pain. Record what the pet ingested and how much. Immediately call your veterinarian or poison control center. Do not induce vomiting.
In case of toxins or chemicals on the skin from oils, paints, insecticides and other contact irritants, request directions on if and how to wash the toxin off.
Seizures often include loss of bladder control or uncontrolled stool, violent muscle twitching, or loss of consciousness. Move the pet to a safe area away from any objects that can cause harm during the seizure. Use blankets or pillows for padding and protection. Seizures will usually only last for a few minutes. Afterwards, keep the animal calm and quiet. Call your veterinarian immediately.
Symptoms include irregular breathing and/or dilated pupils. Shock usually occurs as a result of a serious injury. Keep the animal gently restrained, quiet, and warm, with the lower body elevated. See your veterinarian immediately.
Withhold food for 12-24 hours. Give the pet ice cubes for two hours after vomiting stops. Then slowly increase the amount of water and foods given over a 24-hour period. Contact you veterinarian for further instruction. If your pet can’t walk A door, board, blanket, or floor mat can be used as a stretcher to transport injured or weak animals. If your pet’s emergency is not covered here, please call your veterinarian immediately.
NOTE: First aid is not a substitute for veterinary care, but it may be able to save your pet’s life until you can get it to your veterinary treatment center. Any time you have to administer first aid to your pet, you need to follow it up with an immediate veterinary visit.