Unless you are a pet owner, the chances are that you might not have heard of the Pet First Aid Awareness Month. Celebrated all through April, this occasion is dedicated to helping new pet parents and those who don’t have pets to understand the importance of pet first aid.
Emergency care is just as crucial for pets as they are for humans, and know the right techniques can help you save your pet while the vet arrives.
Educating yourself about the basic emergency procedures and keeping a pet first aid kit handy can keep your pooch safe from fatality even if you are miles away from a veterinary center.
This holds especially true if you and your pet are fond of hiking or happen to be camping in a remote area. Given that you know about pet first aid, your pet is in good hands.
First Aid for Pets: What Pet Owners Need to Know
Knowledge is key during emergencies, and understanding the situation at hand will empower pet owners to offer first aid in the right manner and at the right time.
We will divide the sequence into different categories to understand the process of pet first aid.
Common Pet Emergencies
Before you step on the pedal of first aid for pets, you need to understand the most common pet emergencies. Understanding these emergencies is the first step to resolving these sudden crises.
Here are the most common pet emergencies you need to keep an eye out for:
1. Choking and Breathing Difficulty
Some of the most common emergencies that often miss the pet owners’ notice are when their floofs have shallow breaths. On the other hand, choking is also a common situation that occurs, which may arise due to swallowing small toy parts or getting a bone or food item stuck in their throats.
2. Blood Spouts
Blood should never be taken lightly. It may be due to a physical injury or flow out of the eyes or ears. Blood in vomit and excreta is a sure shot sign of digestive issues and sometimes even more serious reasons. In case of blood, rush to your vet immediately.
3. Consuming Poison
Floor cleaners, detergents, and even certain fruits are poison for pets that they often consume if in their vicinity.
4. Fractures and Sprains
Pets are physical creatures, and it is quite common that they might sprain a muscle or suffer from broken bones once in a while. If you see your pet limping or unable to move at all, waste no time in making an appointment with the vet.
5. Mental Disorders
Like humans, pets too undergo psychological disorders but, unlike them, are unable to process them clearly. Pain, accidents, permanent injury, and loss of companions often lead to pets backing away in a shell or displaying anxiety or extreme aggressions. Vets can address these issues, but as pet owners, you need to keep in mind to keep track of their behaviors as this log will help vets and pet behavior analysts offer you a solution.
6. Saying No to Water
Pets, especially cats, need to stay hydrated to groom themselves constantly. If you notice that your pet hasn’t had their water in the past 24 hours, things are serious and need professional intervention.
7. Heat Stroke
Heatstroke affects pets, especially dogs which often leading to fatality. This is especially common among RVers who often leave their pets inside the vehicle without keeping the temperature in check. Heatstroke is indicated by your pet’s sluggish movements, excessive panting, bright red gums, thick saliva, and overall discomfort. In severe cases, it can also lead to organ failure and even death.
In a pet preparedness survey, only 21% of pet owners agreed to have taken a pet first aid course.
Packing the Pet First Aid Kit
Before you move forward with first aid for your pet, let us take a look at the essential items that make up a pet first aid kit. Keep these items together in your kit to enable accessibility and quick execution.
- Cotton swabs
- Antiseptic powder or spray
- Instant hot or cold packs
- Latex gloves
- Sterile bandages and gauze
- Adhesive tape to secure the said bandages
- Alcohol swabs
- Rabies vaccination certificate
- Muzzle or carrier or leash to settle the pet
- Rectal thermometer
- Water for heatstroke and dehydration
- Cotton pads
Common Pet First Aid Procedures
- Before treating your pet, the first and foremost thing is to secure him/her with a leash or a muzzle. This is not a question of their behavior but even the most docile of animals attack when in pain. You can ask your vet how to tie a muzzle for extra safety.
- Cover your pet with a blanket. This is very important as it helps them feel safe and warm.
- In case of wounds, clean the open skin thoroughly with water and dab it with antiseptic on a clean cotton pad until the blood starts to blot. Apply adequate pressure and check for clotting every three minutes.
- Always encourage them to drink water to prevent dehydration. Pets do not understand if they are hydrated or not, and when stressed due to injury or pain, the chances go down even further. Keep a bowl of water handy at all times.
- In case you think there might be a case of broken bones, it is best to put your pet on a flat surface like a plank of wood and secure the affected part with a towel or a blanket.
- While giving first aid to your pet, the sessions must always have a veterinary follow-up. Call your vet immediately for the proper treatment.
How to Give Your Pet CPR?
CPR is often given to unresponsive pets. The technique greatly improves the chances of survival and can be potentially life-saving.
Considerations Before Giving a CPR
Before stepping up for CPR, it is crucial to assess and evaluate the situation.
- Is your pet breathing? Put the back of your hand in front of their nose and check if they are exhaling. If not, then check the air passage for any blockages. One way to do this is to reach in and remove anything that might be lodged in their throats.
- Check for pulse. Place your hand along the inner thigh (hind leg) and try running it up until the joint. Press lightly there and check for the pulse.
- You can also check for the pulse at the region just above the metacarpal pad (the center pad on the paw) or the heart, which is located on the left side of their chest. Lay your pet on their side and bend their front leg till it touches the chest. This is where the heart is.
How to do CPR?
- Ensure that your pet requires CPR since performing one on a healthy body can lead to physical malfunctioning. If your pet pushes you away while CPR, chances are they might not need it!
- Position your pet for treatment. Lay them down on their right and keep their head and neck as straight as possible. Place yourself behind their back.
- Locate the top of the broadest rib cage NEAR the heart and not on it, and place your palms on that region, one on top of another.
- Begin compression. Keep your elbows straight and apply small quick compressions on 1/3rd of the chest width.
- Combine compressions with Artificial Respiration. Place your hand over the muzzle and seal their lips.
- Gently blow into their nostrils and watch for the fall rise of the chest. Do it in incremental proportions in case of no change. Do one artificial respiration for 15 chest compressions if alone. In case there are two people, one person can do compressions, and the other can do artificial respiration after five compressions.
- Abdominal squeeze: Place your hand on your pet’s lower abdomen and the right one on top and gently squeeze. This helps initiate blood circulation back to the heart. One abdominal squeeze after 15 compressions and one AR.
While CPR is an important lesson for pet owners, do not delay veterinary actions even by a second. The sooner your pet is under expert, the better chances they have at survival.
You can always talk to your vet about the basic pet first aid procedures, who can offer customized inputs based on your pet’s special requirements. You can also pick up leaflets and pet guides at clinics to educate yourself about basic pet care and health reformations as well.