How Do I Give My Pet First Aid?

Posted April 11, 2019 @ 11:29am | by Chelsea Wolf, DVM

It is very scary to see your beloved furry family member in distress or in a life-threatening situation. But in addition to seeking veterinary attention, there are some things you may be able to do to help! 

My pet is having difficulty breathing! What do I do? 
If it is a hot day, or your pet has become very hot, it is important to try and cool them down. Do NOT pour cold water over them. Instead, moisten their paw pads with cool water and seek veterinary care immediately. Never give any medications by mouth when a pet is having difficulty breathing. Do NOT perform chest compressions on a conscious pet.

What about brachycephalic dogs a.k.a. short-nosed breeds? We all know them, the Pugs, Pekingese, English Bulldogs, etc. These dogs have been bred for their smushed-face appearance over time; but that adorable face also makes these dogs prone to breathing issues. When they’re hot, they pant to cool off. Their soft elongated soft palate keeps air from getting to their trachea, however, and their tiny nostrils can’t breathe efficiently. Prevention is always worth a pound of cure – especially when it comes to brachycephalics. It’s best never to allow these guys to overheat.

Let’s talk bandages. Your pet cut him/herself and is bleeding. The nearest pet ER is hours away. Below are steps you can take to place a temporary bandage until you get to the vet. Do consider muzzling your pet before cleaning the wound. Often, pets bite out of fear and pain. Applying a muzzle can help protect you and your pet; however, it is important that it does not interfere with breathing.  

  1. Clean. Use mild soap and lots of water! Flush debris or dried blood. Pat dry prior to bandaging.
  2. Antibiotic ointment. Apply ointment (Neosporin, for example) on an absorbent pad (like a Telfa pad). 
  3. Apply a bandage. T-shirts, ace bandages, compression shirts, can all be used as bandages. The bandage should be taut, but not constrictive. It is just a temporary solution until you reach a vet.

Transporting an injured pet. If you are able to, place your pet in his/her crate. Minimal handling is important, as rough handling can cause further damage. Injured animals should not be allowed to walk or move into or out of the vehicle on their own, as internal bleeding may be increased with movement. Cover your pet with a blanket as this creates a warm environment and helps prevent heat loss.

What NOT to Do
•    Don’t pour water (or anything) into your pet's mouth. Animals in shock are weak and may inhale it into the lungs, causing a worse problem. 
•    Don’t give any medications (including aspirin, ibuprofen or other pain relievers) unless instructed to do so by a vet. 

DO
•    Save the nearest animal emergency hospital phone number and address in your phone. If you are able to call ahead, it helps to have the team ready for you when you come through the door. 
•    Plan ahead for the unexpected. Consider pet health insurance and determine if it is right for you and your pet. 

If you have an emergency with your pet while your family veterinarian is closed, Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota is open 24/7/365. 

 
 
 
 
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