Pet First Aid Tips

Pets may become prone to accidents and injuries just like you, their human companions. While your family veterinarian should always examine your pet following any injury to make sure it didn’t sustain any permanent damage, here is some advice from the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association on how to help stabilize your pet until you can get to a veterinary hospital.

Bite Wounds
Injured animals are often afraid and may act out of character, biting even their trusted human companions. Approach your pet cautiously, and consider restraining him by tying a strip of fabric around your pet’s muzzle. Clean the wound with water and wrap to keep clean. Apply pressure to wounds that haven’t yet stopped bleeding. Call your veterinarian as bite wounds can become infected if not cleaned and treated professionally.

Flush burn with cold water. Apply an ice pack wrapped in a light cloth. Call your veterinarian.

Withhold food for 24 hours. Water may be consumed if there is no vomiting. Contact your veterinarian for further instructions.

Withhold food for 24 hours. Substitute ice cubes in place of water. Contact your veterinarian for further instructions, and immediately if your pet vomits blood.

Try to determine what your pet may have eaten and how much of it. Do not induce vomiting on your own. In some cases, vomiting the poisonous substance can cause more damage. Call your veterinarian immediately or the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435. There is a $65 per case charge.

Heat stroke
Wet your pet with cool but not cold water, and use a fan in the area to help evaporate and make the cooling more efficient. Call your veterinarian immediately.

Apply firm, direct pressure over the area until the bleeding stops. Human Band-Aids generally do not work on animals. Avoid bandages that restrict circulation. Call your veterinarian immediately.

If your pet can bark or cry, he is getting air into his windpipe, and a hacking noise means a cough. If your pet is struggling to breathe and can make no noise, open the mouth, pull the tongue forward, check your pet’s mouth for a foreign object and try to remove it to clear the airway, being careful not to push it farther down the throat. Place the animal on its side and strike the side of the rib cage firmly with the palm of your hand three or four times. Repeat this procedure until the object is dislodged or you arrive at the veterinarian’s office. If your pet swallowed something that got caught in his esophagus but not his windpipe, he can breathe and make noise but he may have trouble swallowing and he will drool. In all these scenarios, call your veterinarian, who will determine what else needs to be done.

Pet Stops Breathing
Make sure your pet isn’t choking due to a foreign object blocking its airway. If the animal is still not breathing, place it on a firm surface with its left side up. Place your ear to the chest and listen for a heartbeat. To locate the heartbeat, gently bend your pet’s elbow just until it touches the ribs. If you find a heartbeat but no breathing, close the animal’s mouth and breathe into his nose until you see his chest rise. You need to do this about 20 times a minute. If there is no heartbeat, you can also add chest compression. If the animal is less than 15 pounds, lay him on his side and press on his chest wall until you depress it by 1/3, then let up. Place one hand below the heart to support the chest. Place other hand over the heart and compress gently. Cats and tiny pets receive heart massage by compressing the chest with the thumb and forefingers of one hand. If the animal is larger, place him on his back and do the chest compressions as you would on a person. Alternate heart massage with breathing. You need to perform 80-100 compressions per minute. Transporting your pet to a veterinary hospital as soon as possible is essential.

Cutting Pet’s Nails Too Short
A normal pet will clot his blood within 5 minutes if a nail is cut short, and will not lose enough blood to be medically significant. You can hold a cloth firmly on the cut surface to avoid a mess until he clots. If you regularly trim your pet’s nails at home, keep a jar of Qwik Stop at home. It is a powder that you apply to the cut nail that helps the blood to clot faster.

Insect bites/stings
If your pet develops hives or can’t breathe due to facial swelling, call your veterinarian. Depending on the severity, he may need to see the animal or may recommend an antihistamine.

Eye Injuries
If your pet damages his eye and there is bleeding but no foreign object visible to you, hold a cold moist cloth over the eye with some pressure. If there is a foreign object be careful not to push it farther into the eye. If your pet is suddenly squinting and tearing, he may have a corneal ulcer.

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