Learn First Aid Care for Your Pet

By isak, May 14, 2009

by Lynda Shrager – Albany Times Union /AJC.com

Owners should be prepared for variety of emergencies

Thankfully, I walked into the kitchen in time to stop my dog from finishing a plate of chocolate-covered matzo recently. (Bailey, our goldendoodle, claimed she was trying to keep the dietary restrictions of Passover.) April was Pet First Aid Awareness Month — would you have known what to do?

Start by learning what types of emergencies your pet is likely to encounter. For example, dogs are more prone to ingesting dangerous things, but cats have more injuries from fights.

The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends pet owners have a first aid kit including gauze, nonstick bandages, towels or strips of cloth to control bleeding and adhesive tape (not human tape like Band-Aids) for securing wraps. They also suggest milk of magnesia or activated charcoal to absorb poison and hydrogen peroxide (3 percent) to induce vomiting.

Add a digital rectal thermometer, an eyedropper to give oral treatments and a muzzle. If you don’t have an actual muzzle, nylon stockings, towels or gauze rolls may be used. Your kit also will need species-specific items so, again, know what may be important for your type of pet.

Poisoning and exposure to toxins such as cleaning products, antifreeze and rodent poisons require immediate action. Call your vet or the ASPCA animal poison control center (888-426-4435) and be prepared to tell them the species, breed, age, sex and — very important — weight. If possible, have the ingested product in front of you and try to determine how much was consumed. Some common dangerous foods include chocolate, coffee grounds, grapes, raisins and avocados.

When handling even the gentlest injured pet, it is recommended you muzzle it — as long as it isn’t vomiting. This will prevent a scared pet that might be in pain from biting you.

If your pet is bleeding, place a gauze pad over the wound and apply pressure. Hold it for at least 3 minutes rather than checking it every few seconds so that it will clot more effectively. If bleeding is severe on the legs, you can use a gauze tourniquet between the wound and the body, loosening for 20 seconds every 15 to 20 minutes.

In every emergency, you need to call your vet, who will tell you how to stabilize your pet in preparation for transport to the office.

Have a plan

Organize ahead of time so you can be prepared for an emergency:

Create a card with vet and poison-control numbers and place it in an accessible spot in your house and keep a copy in the car.

Create an evacuation kit for your pet in case of natural disasters.

Go to www.aspca.org and type “poison control” in the search box for everything you need to know about poisoning.

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