At FCVC we understand that most people do not want to think about the words pet and emergency in the same sentence. Unfortunately, emergencies do happen when we least expect them and often when the veterinary clinic is not open. There are a number of good resources to help you prepare in advance to giving first aid for pets. This one is from our friends at the AVMA:
Emergencies and First Aid for Pets
What would you do if:
- …your dog ate the bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips that was left out on the kitchen counter?
- …your cat had a seizure right in front of you?
- …your dog fell down the stairs and started limping?
- …your cat was overheating on a hot summer day?
To avoid the feelings of panic that may accompany these situations, we recommend the following steps to better prepare you for a pet medical emergency. The following links summarize the basics you need for giving first aid care to your pet.
Always remember that any first aid administered to your pet should be followed by immediate veterinary care. First aid care is not a substitute for veterinary care, but it may save your pet’s life until it receives veterinary treatment.
First Aid for Pets Brochure
Our handy checklist tells you all the supplies you should have on hand for pet first aid. Print out a copy to use for shopping, and keep a copy on your refrigerator or next to the first aid kit for your family, for quick reference in emergencies.
Basic Tips on How to Handle an Injured Pet
Knowing how to comfort an injured pet can help minimize your pet’s anxiety and also protect you and your family from injury.
If your pet is injured, it could be in pain and is also most likely scared and confused. You need to be careful to avoid getting hurt, bitten or scratched.
- Never assume that even the gentlest pet will not bite or scratch if injured. Pain and fear can make animals unpredictable or even dangerous.
- Don’t attempt to hug an injured pet, and always keep your face away from its mouth. Although this may be your first impulse to comfort your pet, it might only scare the animal more or cause them pain.
- Perform any examination slowly and gently. Stop if your animal becomes more agitated.
- Call your veterinarian or an emergency veterinary clinic before you move your pet so they can be ready for you when you arrive.
- If necessary and if your pet is not vomiting, place a muzzle on the pet to reduce the chances you’ll be bitten.
- Dogs may be muzzled with towels, stockings or gauze rolls.
- Cats and other small animals may be wrapped in a towel to restrain them, but make sure your pet is not wrapped in the towel too tightly and its nose is uncovered so it can breathe.
NEVER muzzle your pet if it is vomiting.
- If possible, try to stabilize injuries before moving an injured animal by splinting or bandaging them.
- While transporting your injured pet, keep it confined in a small area to reduce the risk of additional injury. Pet carriers work well, or you can use a box or other container (but make sure your pet has enough air). For larger dogs, you can use a board, toboggan/sled, door, throw rug, blanket or something similar to act as a stretcher.
- You should always keep your pet’s medical records in a safe, easily accessible place. Bring these with you when you take your dog for emergency treatment.
View our AVMA First Aid for Pet Brochure, with more first aid tips
Click to see more about; Basic pet first aid procedures
Read our simple instructions for providing emergency first aid if your pet is suffering from poisoning, seizures, broken bones, bleeding, burns, shock, heatstroke, choking or other urgent medical problems. Print out a copy to keep with your pet emergency kit.
Click to see more about: First aid when traveling with your pet
A few simple steps can better prepare you to help your pet in first aid situations while you are traveling. Remember: pet medical emergencies don’t just happen at home.
Click to see more about; Pets and disasters and the AVMA Saving the Whole Family Brochure
Whether confronted by natural disasters such as hurricanes, or unexpected catastrophes such as a house fire, you need to be prepared to take care of your animals. A pre-determined disaster plan will help you remain calm and think clearly.
Additional first aid for pets links
- American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)/Healthy Pet: Pet First Aid
- The University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine: Basic First Aid for Your Pet
- American Red Cross: First Aid for Pets
- VeterinaryPartner.com: First Aid and Emergency Care
As a member of the AVMA, FCVC is happy to promote this information, so that when an emergency occurs you won’t panic – you will know what needs to be done. Get familiar with them and fill in the blanks on the checklist. We hope you never need them, but if that time comes – you will be prepared.
Attribution – AVMA.org
Photos – mike-burke-63930-unsplash, jeroen-wehkamp-795671-unsplash, channey-528973-unsplash