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Pet First Aid Basics

Everyone that cares about their pet hates to see them sick or hurting. But, even worse than your pet being hurt is you not knowing what to do about it. What would you do if your pet fell down the stairs and started limping? What would you do if your pet got into your cleaning supplies and chewed into several bottles? All of these scenarios are very possible but yet many pet owners aren’t prepared with a pet first aid kit and a plan. Keep reading for some valuable tips to help you prepare for the common first aid most pets need.

Create your first aid kit

Having a complete pet first aid kit is the first step to being prepared for your pet’s injuries and illnesses. Without a good kit, you will be rushing around trying to find things while your pet is suffering. Here are the basics, though you may need more, or less, depending on your particular pet:

  • Medical records
  • Regular vet phone number
  • Emergency vet phone number
  • Animal Poison Control hot line: 888-426-4435
  • Gauze, non-stick bandages, towels and strips of cloth to control bleeding
  • Tape to secure bandages (don’t use band-aids on pets)
  • Milk of magnesia to absorb poison
  • Digital fever thermometer (since regular ones don’t go high enough for pets
  • Eye dropper (or large syringe without needle)
  • Muzzle
  • Leash
  • Stretcher

Administering first aid to your pet

Virtually every pet owner will face a situation at some time where their pet is hurt or sick. How you handle it will determine a lot for the health of your pet and your own safety as well. When the moment comes, keep these things in mind.

  • Any animal in pain is unpredictable. Even if you have had your pet for many years, do not trust them to not bite or scratch because if they are in pain they will do abnormal things.
  • Do not try to hug your pet. Even though that may be your first instinct, it may hurt them and cause them to bite or become more agitated. Keep your face out of biting range at all times.
  • When you are examining your pet, keep it slow and gentle. Stop if you notice that they are in pain or start to get upset when you touch a certain area.
  • Make sure your vet knows you are coming and will have a place ready for you. You don’t want to rush to the vet only to have to wait in the waiting room or in your car with a sick or injured pet.
  • If your pet is not vomiting, it is a good idea to put a muzzle on them to decrease the chance of you and anyone else being bitten.
  • You can wrap cats and small dogs in a towel to restrain them if a muzzle isn’t appropriate.
  • NEVER muzzle your pet if it is vomiting and ALWAYS make sure your pet can breathe.
  • If your pet has a broken bone, try to stabilize the injury by splinting or bandaging before you move them.
  • Keep your injured pet confined while you travel to prevent further injury. Put them in a pet crate or a makeshift stretcher out of a sled or board.

If your pet has been poisoned

Follow the instructions on the bottle of any toxic product (like cleaning supplies) if your pet has gotten the product in their eyes or on their skin. Often, the instructions say to rinse thoroughly with water or wash with soap and water which is what you should do for your pet immediately.

If your pet has consumed something toxic, you need to call the Animal Poison Control Center hot line immediately. If you don’t know what they consumed, but they are having seizures, going unconscious or struggling to breathe, you should still call your vet or the poison hot line since it is likely that they have swallowed something they shouldn’t have.

You should have this information available:

  • Breed, sex, age, weight and species
  • Symptoms
  • What they consumed
  • How much they consumed
  • How long ago they consumed it
  • Have the package to show ingredients

Find any material that your pet vomited or chewed up and seal it in a plastic bag. You need to take it with you when you go to the vet so they can have a better idea of what they ingested.

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Remember that first aid is not a substitute for veterinary care. First aid can save your pet’s life or decrease the chances of more injuries but it should always be followed up by a check up by a veterinarian. If you think your pet may have been poisoned or broken a leg, always follow through and get them thoroughly checked even if they seem to be better after some first aid. Contact Longview Animal Hospital with any questions you may have about your pet’s health or injuries.