First aid for pets is not really the topmost priority of most pet parents—Reality check: Pets are surrounded by hazards every day. And these hazards can oftentimes end up as fatal accidents or life-threatening circumstances. But does it always have to end terribly? Fortunately, no, as there is what we call pet first aid.
And on the month of April, every year, is the National Pet First Aid Awareness Month, which raises pet first aid awareness to all pet parents to help them know what to do and take action immediately when their pets are caught between a life and death situation.
Saving a Life in an Emergency
April has been considered by the American Red Cross to be the National Pet First Aid Awareness Month. This month aims for strong awareness on educating pet owners about pet first aid and that it will not only save their pets’ lives whenever there’s an emergency but will also make them more responsible parents. As a matter of fact, being equipped even with the basics of pet first aid will help any pet parent spot the less obvious signs of health issues in their cats or dogs.
Basic Pet First Aid Must-Know
- Ready those emergency contacts. Emergency contact numbers of your veterinarian and of animal poison control in your area must always come in handy. You can save these numbers in your phone or have it written and then placed on your door or on your fridge’s door or basically anywhere that gives you easy access in case of a pet emergency.
- Prevent accidents. One thing that is way better than first aid is prevention. When it comes to pets, prevention is the best medicine. While you can’t always be around to stop any accidents from occurring, it is your responsibility as pet parents to at least minimize the hazards and dangers surrounding your pets.
- One thing you can do is to identify all household products (including food items) and belongings of your pet that could cause injuries, choking, poisoning and keep these all away and out of your pet’s reach. For dogs, make sure those freshly baked chocolate chip cookies are way out of reach!
- Consider getting training. Taking a pet first aid emergency class is one of the greatest ways you can actually handle a pet emergency better. Make sure the class you will enroll in is certified by your vet or by the American Red Cross. In these classes, you will be able to learn and practice pet CPR, checking your pet’s vitals (respiratory rate, pulse rate, etc.), cleaning bandaging a wound, and a lot more. You’ll also be trained to look for signs in your pet and whether a call to the emergency room is necessary or not.
- Come up with a first aid kit. First aid kits are always handy. You can put together a DIY kit for your pet or purchase one that has already been put up together. Your pet’s first aid kit must contain bandages or strips of clean non-stick cloths, scissors, digital thermometer, compresses, surgical gloves, sterile saline wash, clean water, medicines (like an antihistamine that can temporarily be used for allergic reactions and styptic powder that stops bleeding in minor cuts), dog diapers, belly bands, pee pads, and chews.
- Act immediately. If your pet encounters an emergency, don’t let the adrenaline rush get the best of you. Act fast but remain calm. Panicking will only bring more harm than good to your pet’s situation. If your pet has choked on something, try to remove any lodged item and perform CPR. If your pet has bleeding, you may need to compress the wounded area. Assess your pet’s vitals, conditions, and cause of the accident then call your vet immediately for further instructions and if it needs immediate medical care, inform him you’re on his way.
OTC MEDICATIONS TO HAVE ON HAND:
- Probiotic, such as Purina Fortiflora, or Nutramax’s Proviable: typically used for a minimum of a 7-10 day course at the early signs of soft stool.
- Eye Cleaners, such as Cliny eye cleaner though eye issues typically warrant prompt examination Cliny pet eye wash cleaner for Dogs & Cats - Natural Gentle Eye Infection Treatment.
A new formula developed by veterinarians allows us to gently clean dogs and cats eyes and take good care of them. It is a universal product which made with natural ingredients.
- Dewormers: Worms are nasty parasites that can cause chronic gastrointestinal problems. This is why it is important to deworm your dog regularly. Try our Beloved Pets Deworme
- Flea and Tick Protection
Pepcid AC (famotidine) and/or Prilosec (omeprazole: both are antacids, though have different mechanisms of action and onset of action. May be advised if patient is experiencing mild gastrointestinal upset, but any significant vomiting or other GI signs should warrant prompt examination.
Dramamine (meclizine): used for motion sickness relief in dogs.
MEDICATIONS THAT SHOULD NOT BE ADMINISTERED WITHOUT VETERINARY RECOMMENDATION:
Aspirin: aspirin has been shown to cause gastrointestinal bleeding and ulceration much more commonly than other pain relievers in dogs; additionally, if a patient has received aspirin it limits the pain relief options we have (which are also typically much more effective as well) for a “washout period” of 5-7 days.
Pepto-Bismol: this contains an ingredient that is broken down into aspirin when metabolized, so is not recommended.
Ibuprofen or other OTC non-steroidal anti-inflammatories: there are more effective NSAIDs for our patients and if they have received one of these prior it may limit our options for more effective pain management.
Lomotil or other anti-diarrheal medications: these often work by slowing down the movement of the intestines, which can lead to issues with constipation.
When an Emergency Occurs
Here are some things you can do to help keep your safe dog in case of an emergency:
- Secure the accident area and remove any physical threats (a chewed electrical wire, aggressive animals, harmful substances, glass splinters, etc).
- Keep calm all the time.
- Compress any bleeding, minor or major cuts.
- Check his vital signs (pulse rate, breathing, etc.).
- Start CPR if the pet shows breathing issues.
- Call emergency numbers.
- Perform more first aid as directed by your vet.
- Check if your pet has broken or injured bones before moving him.
- Drive your pet to the nearest vet clinic as soon as possible