In our previous post we outlined what you should have in your first pet first aid kit.  But what if there is an actual emergency?  If your dog is injured, stops breathing or is bleeding profusely, would you know what actions and steps to take?

The American Veterinary Medical Association lists thirteen (13) emergencies that should receive immediate medical attention.

  1. Severe bleeding that takes longer than 5 minutes to clot
  2. Choking or difficulty breathing
  3. Bleeding from any orifices (nose, mouth, rectum, coughing up blood, or blood in urine)
  4. Straining to urinate or defecate
  5. Eye injuries
  6. Ingesting toxins and poisons (antifreeze, xylitol, chocolate, rodent poison, etc.)
  7. Seizures
  8. Lameness and/or inability to move legs
  9. Extreme anxiety and/or pain
  10. Heatstroke
  11. Severe vomiting or diarrhea (2 episodes in a 24-hour period, or either of these combined with obvious illness or any of the other problems listed here)
  12. Unable to drink or eat for more than 24 hours
  13. Unconsciousness

“The most important thing to remember in a pet emergency situation is to stay as calm as possible (your pet will feed off of your emotions), and to keep yourself and your pet safe.” – Pet Plan

Bleeding

No one likes seeing red (well maybe some horror movie fanatics and medical students) and usually with copious amounts of blood, we tend to panic.  Instinctively we will want to find the source of the bleed and examine it, but this should be left to the professionals.  Too much bleeding can be life threatening and so the first order of business should be trying to stop it (within 5 minutes).

Grab out the gauze/towels from your pet first aid kit and apply direct pressure.  Do this for at least three (3) minutes before checking to see if the bleeding has stopped.  You can then take some adhesive tape to hold the bandage in place, while you are transporting your dog to the vet.

Heatstroke

Last summer was brutal.  In fact our veterinarians had seen an influx of animals who were being treated for heat related issues.  Keeping your pet cool (especially for those with longer coats), and hydrated is extremely important.  Another important thing to remember is to NEVER leave your pet in a car on a hot day, as the temperature in a car can rise to dangerous levels relatively quickly.

If you find that your pet is suffering from heat exhaustion you’ll want to first move them into a shaded area out of the sun.  Then without covering their eyes and nose, take a cold wet towel and place it on their neck and head.  After a few minutes squeeze the towel, wet it again and start the process over while you get your dog to a vet.

Sometimes towels aren’t available and if you have a hose nearby you can run water over your dogs body to keep him cool.

Seizures

Watching your beloved dog have a seizure is one of the scariest things that you could ever witness.  Most people panic and breakdown in tears.  Others try to step in and control the episode.

First and foremost you must remain calm and second, DO NOT try to stop it or comfort your pet.  Yes, it’s difficult to watch, but many times your dog won’t know what’s happening and could end up hurting not only themselves but you as well.

You will want to make sure that your pet is in a safe space and clear out anything that is in the way or that could harm them while the episode is taking place.  Seizures typically last 2-3 minutes and you will want to time it for the veterinarian.  While it maybe a lot to ask, if you can get out a camera or your cell phone to record the seizure that will help with your vets diagnosis.

When the seizure has finished call your veterinarian right away and then they will be able to assist you on what to do next.  If you are inclined to do so, you can also take their vitals (temperature, heart rate and breathes per minute) and provide that to your vet.

Poison

Dogs are curious creatures and that’s what makes them so adorable, but it’s also what makes them prone to ingesting dangerous toxins and objects.

In the event of a poisoning, it’s important that you identify what exactly your dog ate.  Then you’ll need to call either your veterinarian or The Poison Control Hotline (there might be a fee associated with this call).  Be sure you have your pet first aid kit nearby, you could be asked to give your dog something to help induce vomiting.

It’s important that you understand that inducing vomiting is not always the answer.  In fact, there are times when you should not induce vomiting:

  • If he is already throwing up (more vomiting could make things worse)
  • If he is unconscious or extremely weak (vomiting could cause vomit to go into it’s lungs)
  • If he has swallowed bleach, drain cleaner or a petroleum product (these products burn when going down and if coming back up they will also burn)
  • If he has swallowed a sharp object (vomiting could cause the instrument to puncture their esophagus)
  • If he has swallowed a toxin over 2 hours ago (after this length of time the substance has entered their small intestine and vomiting will not help to bring it back up)

*If your pet has swallowed anti-freeze, it might be absolutely necessary to induce vomiting.

Not Breathing

Many of us have been to a C.P.R. class, and some of us are event certified.  But not too many individuals are properly trained, let alone shown how to perform C.P.R on pets.

There are a variety of reasons that your pet could stop breathing, but what should be your top priority is to get them breathing again.  Within minutes your pet could die without oxygen flowing to the brain.  If you are unable to get to a veterinarian or emergency clinic fast enough (which most won’t be able to), you’ll need to perform resuscitation on your dog.

  • Check his mouth and throat for any foreign objects blocking the airway
  • Carefully tilt his head back and hold his mouth closed
  • Begin breathing into his nose until you see his chest expand
  • Once his chest expands continue breathing into his nose every 4-5 second

Chest should be done as well.  The ratio is the same as humans 30:2, until your pet can breathe on his own.  For more information on the latest guidelines on pet C.P.R. you can go here.

“First aid care is not a substitute for veterinary care, but it may save your pet’s life until it receives veterinary treatment.” – AVMA

While this isn’t a comprehensive list of what to do in all emergencies, it will give you a head start.  Our canine friends put all their trust in us and the least we can do is educate ourselves on how to better care for them if they are in dire need of help.

Do you have any other tips or suggestions to help pets in the event of an emergency?  Comment below and share with us.

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