April is Pet First Aid Awareness Month. You probably think about first aid & emergency & disaster preparedness for your family, but do you think about it for your pets?
Let’s talk about a first aid kit for your pets. These will be basic items to help you out as you are working to transport your pet to the vet.
- Your Veterinarian’s Contact Information - Emergency Veterinarian’s Contact Information
- Pet Poison Control Number - Muzzle to fit each of your pets
- Thermometer - Vaseline/KY Jelly (to lubricate thermometer)
- Plastic Gloves - Towel/Blanket
- Gauze Roll & Gauze Pads - Scissors
- Tweezers - Hydrogen Peroxide
- Medical Tape - e-collar
- Extra Leash - Eye Saline Solution (no cleansers/additives)
Many items are self-explanatory, but you may wonder why some of these items are necessary. Here are two very important things to remember:
1) First aid is meant to sustain the patient until you can bring him to the veterinarian for necessary medical attention. It is NOT a substitute to avoid going to the vet!
2) Any animal, no matter how well it knows you or how friendly, CAN AND WILL BITE when scared or in pain. Use caution when attempting to help a hurt animal. This is why items such as towel, muzzle and leash are listed above.
When attempting to help an injured or ill animal, approach with caution. If the animal growls, snaps, or lunges, leave it be and call Animal Control. If you can, approach slowly and calmly. A leash designed like a choker or training collar is good for slipping of an animal’s head. Don’t worry about snapping a leash to a collar.
Towels or blankets are good tools for catching animals. By placing a towel over an animal, especially the head, you are placing the animal in the dark and it often will calm the animal, at least for a moment. Depending on the size of the animal, you may be able to cover it with a towel or blanket and scoop it up to transport to a carrier or vehicle. A towel slung under the belly is also good to help support a large dog with an injured rear limb.
All injured animals should be muzzled. This is for YOUR protection! Any warm-blooded mammal could carry rabies yet look perfectly normal. Also, animals’ mouths have a lot of bacteria that could cause a major infection if you are bitten. Muzzles also help calm some animals, which can be a bonus when the animal is ill or injured.
If you don’t have a muzzle, use a thin, nylon leash, a roll of qauze, or a long tube sock or strip of material to carefully and gently tie the animal’s mouth shut, then tie the ends around behind the ears. Be careful not to tie it so tight that the animal can’t breathe.
Hydrogen Peroxide is not just for cleaning wounds. If you pet ingests something it shouldn’t, Poison Control or your veterinarian may tell you to give hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting. Do NOT make your pet vomit unless instructed to do so! Some items do more damage when the pet is made to vomit.
If your pet gets something in its eye, you may be instructed to rinse the eye with saline. You can pick this up at the grocery or pharmacy. Make sure it is Eye Irrigating Solution or Ophthalmic Saline Solution (no cleansers, additives, etc).
Animals have their temperature taken rectally. You can purchase a digital rectal thermometer at most grocery stores or pharmacies. Coat the probe with a small amount of vaseline or KY jelly prior to insertion. Dogs and Cats have a normal body temperature of 100.5-102.5F.
You can also take your dog or cat’s pulse and respiration rate. Normal pulse or heart rate for dogs is 70-120 beats per minute (at rest). Cats have a higher resting heart rate at 140-200 beats per minute. To take your pet’s pulse, you may feel the chest just behind the elbow, or on dogs you can also feel the inside of a back leg near where it attaches to the body.
Normal respiration rates for dogs and cats average 15-30 breaths per minute. You can watch your pet’s chest rise and fall as it breathes to get the respiration rate.
For more information on first aid for your pet, check out the following websites:
American Veterinary Medical Association: https://www.avma.org/public/EmergencyCare/Pages/First-Aid-Tips-for-Pet-Owners.aspx
You may also check out the Red Cross Store for a pet first aid kit and first aid books for dogs and cats.
Check back later this week for information on emergency & disaster preparedness!
Suburban Animal Clinic is located in
Suburban Animal Clinic is located in