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How to Administer First Aid to your Pet in Case of an Emergency

Humans are not the only ones susceptible to emergencies. Our pets can be just as susceptible to needing to be assisted in an emergency, which can range from injuries, allergic attacks, poisonings, or other medical episodes. Much like with humans, dogs are bound to hurt themselves or need medical assistance quickly. Getting them to the vet cannot happen that quickly, so pet owners need to be prepared to help.

First Aid Kit For Pets

Whether you are out with your dog or playing around the house, it's good to have a first aid kit available for your pet. Some of the contents of the dog-friendly first aid kit will be similar to those things a human would have in theirs, but some are a little more geared toward canine needs. The following are some essentials to include:

  • Cotton swabs (or balls)
  • Tongue depressors
  • Splints
  • Latex gloves
  • Sanitizing wipes
  • Flashlight
  • Gauze pad and bandages
  • Styptic liquid (for minor cut seals)
  • Scissors or a razor (blunt-tipped)
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Rectal thermometer
  • Hydrocortisone cream (3%)
  • Bottle of water
  • Collapsible plastic bowl(s)
  • Lubricating Jelly
  • Muzzle, leash, or blanket
  • Baster or rubber bulb syringe
  • Copies of vaccinations and medical records

First Aid Best Practices

In the case of your dog sustaining a wound or a bone break, there are some precautions to take. An animal in pain is bound to lash out, so before administering first aid, it is important to restrain and likely muzzle even the most docile pets. The dog may not have any intent to harm and owners may know them as sweet and loving dogs, but when pain is introduced into the equation, playing it safe is best.

If working alone, you will need to slowly and gently attempt to leash the dog to a sturdy fixed object. Then slowly pull the dog toward the object and pull not hard enough to choke, but sufficiently enough to immobilize his head in order to place the muzzle on.

It's also advised to keep the pet warm, calm, and quiet. This starts with approaching the dog calmly and speaking with a soothing and reassuring tone. If a dog is visibly distraught, growling, or has eyes opened wide, it perceives additional pain from anything or anyone that approaches it, so approach slowly and do not attempt to pet it.

You can use a blanket to cover them or have an assistant gently rub them, making the dog feel cared for and secure. If the dog has a cut or an abrasion, use a thick, clean gauze pad to cover any wounds and keep the pressure on that wound firmly. Do so for at least 3 to 4 minutes, then check to make sure the abrasion is showing signs of clotting.

If you suspect that your dog has a broken bone, come up with a method to transport him from one location to another. Depending on the dog’s size you may be able to carry him around, but most likely a flat surface such as a board or a blanket could work best.

Administering CPR

If the animal is having a medical episode and loses consciousness, you may need to act quickly to administer CPR. If the animal is not moving, there is little risk of them lashing out or biting, so you can proceed to remove any objects that may be obstructing their passage. If nothing is present, extend the animal’s head and administer a few artificial respirations. When acting with a small dog, your mouth can fit over their nose and mouth. Pump a few breaths into them, and watch for the animal’s chest rising. When a dog is larger, close its jaw and breathe into its nose

This should be followed by chest compressions administered to the dog. A larger dog should be laid on his back, with the chest compressions performed much as they would be on a human. Dogs with funnel chests may need to be laid on their side to administer compressions to their ribcage. The compression rate depends on how big the animal is. For smaller dogs (10 pounds or less) the compression rate should be at about 120 compression rates per minute. Those with the weight falling between 11 and 60 pounds should receive 80 to 100 compressions per minute, while bigger dogs need to have 60 per minute.

As with human CPR, it is important to alternate breaths with compressions within about a 30 to 2 ratio. Continue to perform at this rate until the animal begins to be responsive and resumes breathing on its own.

Other Types of Emergencies

Wounds and breaks are most common, but animals can have other medical emergencies.

  • Seizures: If the animal begins to have a seizure episode, gently keep them removed from any furniture items. Seizures usually take 2 to 3 minutes to stop. Once the episode completes, keep your pet quiet, warm, and steady while you contact the vet.
  • Burns: Whether the burn is chemical or just a severe standard variety, it is important to muzzle the hurt animal first to keep them from lashing out. Then apply large quantities of water to chemical burns, and ice water compresses to the afflicted areas of standard burns.
  • Choking: An animal that is choking will be panicking, and is, therefore, more likely to bite. Carefully approach the pet, and pressing its mouth open try to remove the object with pliers or tweezers, but be careful not to push it further down.

Follow Up With A Vet

No matter what you do in administering first aid unless the injury is extremely minor, always remember to follow up with your vet after. In cases of severe injury or medical conditions, try to get in to see the vet as soon as possible to assure that your beloved pet recovers as quickly and fully.