Performing first aid can be confronting in any situation. However, having basic knowledge of what to do can sometimes be the difference between life and death.
Like any living being, our furry friends may experience health problems or a medical emergency in their lifetime. As pet owners, it is our responsibility to have the resources and skillset to assist us in responding to these issues appropriately.
If your pet is injured or falls ill, the leading Australian vets recommend pet owners follow the ABC rule for how you should respond to the situation.
A-B-C is an acronym for:
Airways: Is anything blocking the animal’s airway?
Breathing: Is the animal breathing normally?
Circulation: Can you feel a pulse or the heart beating?
In any given situation, if you find yourself answering ‘no’ to any of the questions above then you need to contact your veterinarian immediately.
CPR is something every pet owner should be familiar with. If your pet stops breathing, CPR is the best chance you have at saving their life. Before you begin CPR make sure your pet is lying on their right side so that their heart is facing up.
Step 1: Establish an open airway by opening your pet’s mouth and pulling their tongue forward. Look inside their mouth and make sure there is no foreign matter, if you can see something clearly, use your finger to get it out.
Step 2: Look, listen, and feel for any signs of breathing. If there are no signs of life, give 4-5 rescue breaths right away. On a large dog you can do this by holding their snout closed and sealing you mouth around the dog’s nose. On a smaller dog and cat your mouth will naturally seal around the animal’s mouth and nose at the same time. Begin to breathe in and out.
Step 3: Check for a heartbeat or pulse before you begin chest compressions.
Step 4: If you identify that there is still no heartbeat or pulse begin chest compressions. It is recommended that you begin with 15 rapid compressions on the chest, check for any sign of a pulse. You can continue CPR for up to 20 minutes, it is best to try and get to the emergency veterinarian’s office as soon as possible for professional assistance.
Pet owners should also keep a first aid kit, specifically designed for pets, in your home so that you have the supplies you may require in dire situations.
Within your pet’s first aid kit, you should consider including the following items:
- Medical records for your pet and emergency numbers
If your pet is experiencing a medical emergency, the last thing you will want to be doing is searching your house for their medical records as well as the number for the emergency veterinarian. Keeping all of this documentation in one safe spot will leave you confident that you know exactly where these documents are should you require them.
- Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide can be used to clean small wounds. In addition, it can be used to induce vomiting if your pet has ingested something toxic. However, it is important to note that you should always consult a poison control professional or your veterinarian before inducing vomiting.
- Antibiotic ointment
Keeping antibiotic ointment in your pet’s first aid kit will allow you to clean minor cuts and scratches. This will help prevent infection, relieve pain, and acts as a barrier to bacteria and germs.
- Gauze, scissors, tape, rubber gloves
These items are essential components of any first aid kit. Gauze can control bleeding; tape can hold gauze in place and scissors will help cut the gauze. Finally, rubber gloves are an integral item in any medical emergency as they protect you from blood and other bodily fluids,
It is important that you have the knowledge and resources to help protect your pet during these dire moments. The time spent preparing for the worst will surely take away certain anxiety and stress you may feel should these situations actually happen.