First Aid For Pets
At first glance pet first aid might seem like something only known to veterinary medicine professionals, we here at Westonka Animal Hospital beg to differ. April is pet first aid month and what better way to start off our new blog than to do a post on caring for your pet until you can get them to their veterinarian! Having the ability to administer first aid to your pet can decrease the chances of them worsening their injury, potentially aid in faster healing and in some cases even be the difference between life and death.
It is important to note however that first aid IS NOT an alternative or substitute for veterinary care and we strongly recommend that you contact your veterinarian in the event your pet is ill or injured. We would also like to remind pet owners to ALWAYS be careful handling pets especially if they are hurt as even the gentlest pet can bite or scratch when in pain. Prevention is always going to be the best medicine and keeping potential toxins such as cleaning supplies and certain house plants out of your pet’s reach is a must. However, we do understand that accidents do happen and are making this post to help individuals prepare if something were to happen.
The first key item to have on hand is a printout with your primary veterinary clinic’s phone number clearly visible on it as well as any nearby emergency hospital numbers. This is incredibly important to have as you may need to call more than one location and searching for phone numbers while under stress can take time that leads to even greater stress. Having this information on hand will also help anyone who also cares for your dog if you go on vacation or are at work. It is also important to have current vaccine records included with these phone numbers in case the pet has to go to a care provider they have never been to before. Below are other items we recommend having in an at home first aid kit that can easily be picked up at your local pet store or farm supply.
- Hydrogen peroxide (a small bottle should do just fine)
- Extra leash and collar (in case the current one breaks or has to be cut off)
- Antibiotic ointment
- 2” non stick bandage (Vet Wrap)
- Gauze squares of varying sizes, Telfa non adherent pads
- Thermometer (temperatures have to be taken rectally on dogs and cats)
- Adhesive tape to secure bandage
Being able to take your pet’s vital signs is also a key part of pet first aid. While this may seem difficult it is very doable and there are many videos that owners can learn from. Vital signs to keep an eye on are respiratory rate, heart rate (pulse) and temperature. Below are the averages for different sized dogs and cats.
If you wish to learn how to take your pet’s vitals in person, the staff at Westonka Animal Hospital can also teach you during your pet’s exam or technician appointment as well. Not only does this skill help you in an emergency but it also allows you to have a better understanding of what is normal for your pet and recognize when something is abnormal.
There are many resources for learning the aspects of first aid for your pet ranging from articles and videos, to a class provided by the Red Cross. We have included links below so that they are easy to access. In May we will be at Trista Days providing first aid demonstrations for children as well as adults, we hope to see you there!
Here are two links we have used for quick access to first aid information.