First Aid - What to do in a pet emergency

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First Aid - What to do in a pet emergency

Knowing what to do in an emergency with your pet could literally save their life. As summer approaches, our pets will often be out and about with us and may be more likely to get themselves into tricky situations where they may need first aid before we are able to get them to a vet. 

According to the Blue Cross, the most common emergencies are: heat stroke, bee stings, broken bones or eating toxic substances.

The animal charity offers owners some essential tips for avoiding tragedy in case the worst happens. Of course prevention is better than cure so always be mindful of where you are and what your pet is doing. Even the most well-behaved dog might get distracted and run across the road to get to a cat or a squirrel, so keep them on a lead when walking them alongside a road, even with slow-moving traffic.

Being forewarned is forearmed, so make sure you are aware of any potential dangers, such as toxins and how to treat them too. Senior Veterinary Surgeon, Blue Cross, Seb Prior agrees: 

“It is vital for pet owners to know what they should do to help their pet in an emergency – in some case it can mean life or death. Once owners give first aid they must also contact their vet for advice, act quickly and never give pets human medicine as it could be fatal.”

Fluffy cat pic  by C. Z. Shi on UnsplashFluffy cat pic by C. Z. Shi on Unsplash

Five Pet First Aid Tips

1. Heatstroke

As we reported on the blog a couple of weeks ago, heatstroke is a common problem for dogs, especially flat-faced breeds such as pugs. If you suspect your dog has heatstroke, put them somewhere cool with a draught, out of direct sunlight. Wet their coat with tepid or cool water (not cold water) and take them to the vet as soon as you can. You can offer them a small amount of water to drink but make sure you get them to a vet as quickly as possible as they will be able to assess them properly and decide the best course of treatment 

2. Cuts and bleeding

In most cases it is best to leave a cut undressed without bandages, but if it continues to bleed you may need to bandage it until it stops. Use something that won’t stick to the wound, with a layer of padding (eg. cotton wool) before bandaging it, making sure that the bandage is not too tight. Then get your pet to a vet as soon as possible.

3. Poisoning

Plants such as lilies and daffodils can be extremely toxic so it’s good to make a note of anything that could make your pet sick and keep everything you’re not sure about out of reach. Especially if they are the kind who likes to eat first, ask questions later.  Some common poisoning symptoms include staggering; vomiting; dribbling; collapsing; and difficulty in breathing. If this happens, call the vet immediately and take any packaging or pieces of what they have eaten with you. Don’t make your pet sick unless the vet tells you to. Rabbits are unable to vomit. We know of a rabbit that once ate a packet of silica gel (the small packets you get in shoe boxes etc) which is not something you expect a rabbit to do, so always be mindful of what your pet can get hold of and keep anything like this out of reach (the rabbit was OK).

Rabbit pic by Gavin Allanwood on UnsplashRabbit pic by Gavin Allanwood on Unsplash

4. Contaminated coat 

If your pet has rolled in something toxic that won’t come off, it’s time to put a lampshade cone on them (if you have one) to stop them from licking it. If you don't have a cone to hand, put them in an old t-shirt or something similar and take them to the vets. If you have a smaller animal such as a rabbit, wrap them in a towel to stop them from licking the affected area and possibly poisoning themselves. Never use turps or paint remover on your pet. Contact the vet and they will be able to clean it off with specialist treatment.

Pug pic by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash"Pug pic by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

5. Stings

Where possible, pull out the sting. Soothe the area with ice and contact your vet for advice. Watch your pet carefully because if the sting is in the mouth or throat, it may swell and interfere with their breathing. We have more info on how to treat stings in this post that we wrote last year.

With your help, your pet will soon be back to 'normal.' Pic by Melanie Andersen on UnsplashWith your help, your pet will soon be back to 'normal.' Pic by Melanie Andersen on Unsplash

What Three Words 

If you’re going to be hiking or walking with your pet in the countryside then it’s a good idea to get the What3Words app on your phone in case you need to call for help. It helps to pinpoint your location within 3 square metres and uses GPS which is really useful if you have an accident in an area with no mobile reception.

Vet sign pic by Matt Seymour on Unsplash Vet sign pic by Matt Seymour on Unsplash

Dog First Aid

The Blue Cross has some great resources on their website including this dog first aid leaflet (pdf) and some first aid video tips for dogs.

Cute puppy pic by Berkay Gumustekin on UnsplashCute puppy pic by Berkay Gumustekin on Unsplash

Got any pet first aid tips? Let us know in the comments section below

Main pic by Mike Burke on Unsplash

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