First Aid for Your Pet

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While the health and happiness of pets is a top priority for most pet owners, many lack knowledge about proper animal first aid. That’s why April has been designated as Pet First Aid Awareness Month, so that responsible pet owners can take a moment to learn or refresh their skills around first aid for their fuzzy best friends.

The best first step in first aid is prevention. We’ve written posts about plants that are toxic to pets, decoration dangers for animals, common household items that can be harmful to cats and dogs and how chocolate can be hazardous to your pet’s health. By being aware of what surrounds your pet, you can prevent incidents from occurring and be better prepared to react should an accident take place.

But in the event something does happen, are you prepared to act quickly to help your furry counterparts? Let’s look at some of the most common issues and how you can treat them:

  • Open Wounds Your personal safety is important, and as we all know, wounds can be painful. Your normally sweet-natured pet may bite if stressed and in pain, so use a soft nylon muzzle or have a second person cover your pet’s head with a towel to control movement and prevent an accidental bite. If your pet has an open wound, assuming it’s minor, follow these steps:
    • Remove any debris, clean the area with plain water and then disinfect with betadine (preferred) or diluted hydrogen peroxide.
    • Treat the wound with an antibiotic ointment.
    • Place a non-adhesive absorbent pad over the area and secure with a stretch gauze. Be careful not to wrap the gauze too tightly as this can disrupt circulation.
    • Contact Total Veterinary Care as soon as possible to have the wound treated.
  • Heat Issues Should your pet show signs of being overheated, here are the steps to help them cool down quickly and safely:
    • Using cool (not cold) water, sponge your pet.
    • If your pet will not condone sponging, use wet towels and focus on the pet’s head, neck and the “armpits” of their legs.
    • As your pet cools, make sure you have bowl of cool water ready for them to drink (you may need to assist them with a bottle at first).
    • Contact Total Veterinary Care as soon as possible. Heat stroke can be deadly if not treated quickly.
  • Ticks These creepy crawlies can attach themselves to your pets quickly. Here’s how to safely remove a tick from your pet:
    • First, check for ticks, paying careful attention to the inside of ears, the groin area and the feet. If your pet has long hair, try using a dryer on the warm or cool setting to move the hair around easily.
    • Wear gloves to help prevent exposing yourself to any of the many tick-borne diseases.
    • Using tweezers, securely grab the tick as close to the skin as you can and slowly and steadily pull straight up until the tick releases. This make take 60 seconds or more. Dispose of the tick by flushing it down the toilet. If you’re concerned about disease, find a way to securely save the tick to take for testing at your vet.
    • Clean the bite area with soap and water, betadine or diluted hydrogen peroxide.

In addition, we suggest downloading the Red Cross’ Pet First Aid app on your mobile phone. It provides many other suggestions for treating your pets. You can download it easily by texting “GETPET” to 90999. You can also take cat and dog first aid training online through the Red Cross, so that you are ready to go should your pet need assistance. We also plan to hold occasional pet first aid training at our hospitals, so look for more information to be posted on those soon.

These are just a few of the ways you can aid your pet at home. We highly recommend having a pet first aid kit on-hand at home, so that you are stocked with pet-safe materials to use if your pet is injured or sick. For more information about what keep in your pet first aid kit, visit this link:  ASPCA First Aid Kit. For more severe injuries or illnesses, it’s always best to immediately visit or contact your veterinarian.

Bonnie Ruszczyk

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