First Aid for Pets
Every year, hundreds of pets are involved in road accidents, suffer from heatstroke or swallow poisonous substances. Written by our resident Vet Nurse, Emma, this advice about First Aid for Pets and what to do in an emergency could save your pet’s life.
Apply pressure to minimise blood loss. Use any material you can find if sterile pads and bandaging materials are not available. If you can see blood pumping from the wound, extra pressure is required. Wounds should be cleaned with saline or antiseptic solution.
Broken bones are incredibly painful – pain and distress might make it difficult to handle your pet so take great care not to get bitten. Urgent veterinary attention is always take great care to keep the animal and the fracture site as still as possible when moving it from one place to another.
It can be difficult to assess why an animal is struggling to breathe and dramatic signs can occur very quickly in many emergency situations. Urgent veterinary attentions is always required but in the meantime; check the colour of the animal’s gums– this should be nice and pink but if it is pale white or blue, then oxygen is urgently required. Check inside the animal’s mouth for an obstruction if it is safe to do so. Keep the animal as calm as possible by stroking it, talking softly and moving it gently. Allow it to get into a comfortable position on its own – often the best position is lying on its front with elbows positioned away from the body and neck outstretched.
Throwing sticks for dogs always risks them running onto them, causing impalement or trauma. Unless absolutely necessary, do not try and remove the embedded stick, this should be done by a veterinary professional. Keep the animal calm and warm to try and avoid shock.
Burns & Scalds
Do not attempt to cover or apply anything to the burned area. Take care in moving the animal safely and as painlessly as possible. Even if the animal appears normal, make sure it receives veterinary attention as a precaution as delayed reactions to the skin can occur.
Do not give the animal anything to eat or drink and do not try to induce vomiting. Keep a close eye on any abnormal signs that you notice in your pet so that you can give an accurate history when the vet asks. When you take the animal to the surgery, make sure you also take the packaging or remainder of the poison ingested, if known.
‘Fits’ or seizures can be very distressing both to the animal and to the owner. Most pass by within several seconds or a few minutes. Keep the animal as calm as possible. Turn lights and loud noises such as the television off. Ensure the environment is safe and that the animal cannot hurt itself.
This can occur quickly and without warning in warm temperatures, usually when animals are left in cars exposed to the sun, or if dogs get too excited and active during exercise. Cooling the animal down is vital – use cool water/wet towels/fans/air conditioning or anything you can find, and always seek shade, but ensure the animal does not chill. Concentrate on wetting the skin on the belly and inside the legs first.
Insect Bites & Stings
Most bites and stings are locally irritant and painful but will usually settle within a few hours, however some animals may have allergic reactions. Particular care is required if an animal is bitten on the face, neck or in the mouth, especially if it starts to swell, due to the risk of choking. It is important to monitor the animal for signs of breathing problems and distress – keep him/her as calm as possible until you get to the surgery.