April is Pet First Aid Awareness Month. What Would You Do In An Emergency?

Do you know what to do if your dog starts choking on something stuck in her throat? Your cat gets badly bitten in a fight with another cat? Your dog stops breathing? When our pets are injured, or become suddenly ill, our own fear and panic can cause us to not give them the best emergency care we can provide. Avoid falling into a potentially deadly situation by preparing yourself with knowledge regarding animal trauma care, and equipping your home and your car with a portable pet first aid kit.

Basic Procedures

The American Veterinary Medical Association lists a fairly comprehensive directory of symptoms and signs of injury that your dog or cat may suffer on its Basic Procedures of Pet First Aid page. The page details what symptoms to watch for, how to handle a frightened and/or painful animal, how to treat emergencies before transporting to your veterinarian, and how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if the animal is not breathing or its heart has stopped beating.

You can print this page from your computer and keep someplace handy in case of an emergency.

Additionally, most local Red Cross Chapters have a Pet First Aid course where you can have hands on practice with injuries or trauma and become certified in Pet CPR. Contact your local chapter for information on the nearest class.

Pet First Aid Kit

We recommend that you make 2 First Aid kits – one for your home, and one to keep in your car because animal emergencies don’t just happen at home.

Each kit should contain the items listed below, as well as a sheet of paper with your veterinarian’s name and phone number, the phone number of the nearest animal emergency clinic, and the number for the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center — (888) 426-4435. Many people forget important names and phone numbers when the numbers are most needed and they’re under pressure. Keeping that list in your kits helps alleviate that possibility.

Your First Aid kits should be in a bag or tote large enough to carry the following items:

  • Tweezers
  • Scissors
  • Digital thermometer
  • Eye dropper, or large syringe minus the needle
  • Thin, sterile Latex® gloves
  • 1-in. first aid tape
  • Antiseptic cleansing wipes
  • 3-in-1 antibiotic ointment, such as Neosporin®
  • 4-in. X 4-in. gauze dressing pads
  • 9-in X 2-in. gauze dressing pads (or substitute non-stick sanitary napkins)
  • 2-in. X 2-in. gauze dressing pads
  • 2-in. gauze roll bandage
  • 2-in. stretchy wrap bandage (Vetrap®)
  • Saline eyewash
  • Hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting
  • Activated charcoal or milk of magnesia
  • Slip leash to use as a leash and/or muzzle (painful, frightened animals will bite)
  • Magazines or newspapers to be rolled up and used as splints
  • Old blankets, towels, or tee-shirts
  • Treats
  • Kibble
  • Water
  • Stretcher – not needed for the kit, but good to have handy (in an emergency, a door, board, blanket or floor mat may be used to stabilize/transport the animal)

Whether your pet is accidentally injured, or confronted by disasters such as a hurricane or a catastrophic house fire, you need to be aware of how to take care of your furry family member. Make a plan and determine ahead of time what you’re going to do if anything terrible and unexpected should happen.

Additionally, if you have a VIP pet sitter stay in your home while you’re away, make sure the sitter knows the location of your First Aid kit and the numbers for your veterinarian, the animal emergency center, and the Poison Hotline. All VIP pet sitters have some knowledge or basic training regarding pet first aid treatments. Please contact us to care for your very important 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 (AVMA).

Additional pet first aid links:

VeterinaryPartner.com: First Aid and Emergency Care

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