If you have a pet, you know how much they mean to you. They are part of your family and you want to keep them safe and healthy. But what if your pet gets injured or sick? Do you know what to do in an emergency?
Pet first aid is the immediate care you provide to your pet when they are hurt or ill until you can get them to a veterinarian. It can make a difference between life and death, recovery and disability, or comfort and pain for your pet.
In this blog post, we will cover some basic tips and skills for pet first aid that every pet owner should know.
What should you have in your pet first aid kit?
It is a good idea to have a pet first aid kit at home and in your car, so you are prepared for any situation. You can buy a ready-made kit or make your own with some common items. Here are some things you should have in your pet first aid kitAd1:
- Antiseptic spray or ointment
- Hydrogen peroxide for cleaning wounds
- Gauze, cotton balls, bandage material, adhesive tape
- A pair of tweezers and a pair of scissors
- A digital thermometer
- A muzzle or a soft cloth to prevent biting
- A leash or a carrier to restrain your pet
- A blanket or a towel to keep your pet warm
- Gloves to protect yourself from infection
- Your veterinarian’s phone number and address
- A copy of your pet’s medical records and medications
How do you perform CPR on your pet?
CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It is a lifesaving technique that can help restore breathing and blood circulation in your pet if they stop breathing or their heart stops beating. CPR should only be performed if your pet is unconscious and has no pulse2.
- Check for breathing and pulse. You can use your hand to feel for the chest movement or the heartbeat on the left side of the chest. You can also use a stethoscope if you have one.
- If there is no breathing or pulse, place your pet on their right side on a flat surface. Make sure their neck is straight and their mouth is closed.
- For dogs, place one hand over the rib cage where the elbow touches the chest. For cats and small dogs, place one hand over the heart. Compress the chest about one-third to one-half of its width at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute.
- After 30 compressions, give two rescue breaths by gently holding the mouth closed and blowing into the nose until you see the chest rise. Repeat the cycle of 30 compressions and two breaths until your pet starts breathing or has a pulse, or until you reach a veterinary clinic.
- If possible, have someone else call your veterinarian or drive you to the nearest emergency hospital while you perform CPR.
How do you treat common injuries and illnesses in your pet?
There are many situations where your pet may need first aid care. Some of them are:
- Cuts and wounds: Clean the wound with hydrogen peroxide or water and apply pressure with gauze or a clean cloth to stop bleeding. Cover the wound with a bandage and change it daily. Watch for signs of infection such as redness, swelling, pus, or pain3.
- Burns: Cool the burned area with cold water or ice for 10 minutes. Do not apply any ointments or creams. Cover the burn with a sterile dressing and seek veterinary attention as soon as possible3.
- Fractures: Immobilize the injured limb with a splint made of cardboard, wood, or metal. Wrap it with bandages or tape to secure it. Do not try to realign the bone or push it back into place. Keep your pet calm and comfortable until you reach a veterinarian3.
- Poisoning: If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 immediately. Do not induce vomiting unless instructed by a professional. Bring the container or label of the substance with you if possible4.
- Choking: If your pet is choking on something, try to remove it with your fingers or tweezers if you can see it in their mouth. Be careful not to push it further down their throat or get bitten. If you cannot remove it, perform the Heimlich maneuver by placing your hands behind the last rib and pushing up and forward with quick thrusts. If your pet is unconscious, perform CPR as described above4.
- Heatstroke: If your pet is overheated, move them to a cool place and offer them water. Apply cold towels or ice packs to their head, neck, and chest. Monitor their temperature with a thermometer and stop cooling them when it reaches 103°F. Seek veterinary attention as soon as possible4.
How do you prevent accidents and emergencies with your pet?
The best way to keep your pet safe and healthy is to prevent accidents and emergencies from happening in the first place. Here are some tips to prevent common hazards for your pet4:
- Keep your pet up to date on their vaccinations and parasite prevention.
- Spay or neuter your pet to reduce the risk of reproductive diseases and unwanted pregnancies.
- Microchip and tag your pet with your contact information in case they get lost or stolen.
- Keep your pet on a leash or in a carrier when outside or in unfamiliar places.
- Avoid feeding your pet human foods that can be toxic or harmful, such as chocolate, grapes, onions, garlic, xylitol, alcohol, etc.
- Store medications, household cleaners, antifreeze, pesticides, and other chemicals out of reach of your pet.
- Provide your pet with adequate water, food, shelter, exercise, and socialization.
- Train your pet to obey basic commands and avoid aggressive or fearful behaviors.
- Regularly check your pet for signs of illness or injury and visit your veterinarian for routine check-ups.
Pet first aid is an essential skill for every pet owner. It can help you save your pet’s life in an emergency or reduce their pain and suffering until you can get them to a veterinarian. By having a pet first aid kit, knowing how to perform CPR, treating common injuries and illnesses, and preventing accidents and emergencies, you can be prepared for any situation that may arise with your pet.
We hope this blog post has been helpful and informative for you. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. And remember, if your pet is in serious trouble, always call your veterinarian or an emergency clinic right away.
Thank you for reading and stay safe!