You don’t have to be a medical practitioner or have some medical background in order to learn first aid for pets. Simple efforts such as watching a YouTube video or reading this article could already arm you with knowledge on what to do in untoward situations.
Accidents and injuries are an inevitable part of our lives, and unfortunately, our pets are also not immune to them.
We may brush it off and say it would never happen to us, but it is better to be safe than to be sorry.
It is better to be equipped with life-saving knowledge than to leave it all into the hands of a veterinarian. A few minutes of first aid could mean the difference between life and death for your pet.
Household cleaners, chemicals, and human medicines are the top poisons for your pets.
Normally, your dog wouldn’t eat something poisonous because even the slightest chemical scent throws them off.
However, there are household products that come in flavored scents that could entice our pets, medicines that look and taste like candy, as well as odorless and colorless chemicals that look as innocent as water.
If your pet is poisoned, the first thing to do is to call poison control.
Next, you need to administer first aid while waiting. Time is precious and
you need to do as much as you can while you are waiting for medical people to arrive.
In this case, you can have your pet swallow raw egg whites as soon as possible. Egg whites may dilute the poison ingested and may delay the poison’s effect.
A small pet needs 1-2 egg whites, while a bigger pet may need 3-4 egg whites.
Most pets would chew and eat anything that piques their interest. There is a medical condition called Pica that compels them to eat inedible things which are far from being foods.
Even without Pica, animals are naturally curious and would test anything by putting it in their mouths.
If you see that your pet is struggling to breathe, making choking and coughing sounds, or is trying to paw their mouth, you have to act quickly.
First, check his mouth to see if the foreign object can be removed carefully by using tweezers. If the object isn’t visible or is too far down your pet’s throat, don’t attempt to remove it as you may risk pushing it further back into his throat.
Instead, do a Heimlich maneuver by placing both hands on either side of his rib cage and applying a firm and swift pressure.
You can also lay him down on his side and thrust his rib cage using your palm three times. Repeat this maneuver until the object is pushed out of his
Isolate your pets from objects that might hurt him, especially sharp or hard objects.
Do not keep him down or attempt to control his movements. Record the duration of the seizure, although typical seizures last for 3 minutes.
After the seizure, make sure that your pet is well-rested, warm, and as comfortable as possible and take him to a veterinarian.
Wrap the wound with a clean cloth or gauze. Apply ample pressure over the source of bleeding to minimize blood loss and to aid in blood clotting.
Keep the pressure on for about 4-5 minutes before letting go to check the wound.
If your pet is bleeding profusely on the legs, create a tourniquet using a cloth and apply pressure on top of the wound. Relax the tourniquet for 15-
20 seconds every 15-20 minutes.
Make sure to rush your pet to the nearest veterinarian because severe bleeding can be fatal.
If your pet is suffering from nose bleeding, put an ice pack over his nose bridge but make sure he is able to breathe properly.
For chemical burns, cleanse the affected area by putting it under running water.
For serious burns, apply an ice pack over the burnt area. Consult the vet for topical ointments that would help expedite healing and medicines that would manage pain.
Never leave your pet unattended inside the car regardless of the weather, even if you are going out for just a few minutes.
The weather is unpredictable and can change rapidly, and the temperature inside the car rises quickly. It only takes a few minutes for your pet to yield to heatstroke.
In case this happens, take note of the following:
- The first step should be to drive him to a veterinarian. If this is not immediately possible, take your pet to a cooler area and out of direct sunlight.
- Don’t force water into his mouth and throat because it could get into his lungs.
- Give him a bowl of water to drink and let him drink on his own.
- Help him slowly adjust to his normal body temperature by placing a cool towel around his back, head and neck area.
- Make sure not to cover his nose and eyes and make him as comfortable as possible.
- Keep the towel wet and cool by submerging it into a basin of water and wringing it out, then applying it back to his body.
- Keep doing this until his temperature goes back to normal.
- You can also gently pour cool (but not ice cold) running water over his body.
- Monitor his body temperature until you can take him to the vet. Do not submerge his head in the water.
Don’t panic. Stay calm, and focus on what you need to do.
Have a friend call a vet or emergency services while you give first aid to your pet.
Check for vital signs. Check your pet’s airway by gently pulling his tongue forward until you can see his throat. If you see any object that’s blocking his airway, follow the first aid for choking.
If you were able to remove the foreign object, give him rescue breathing by closing his mouth, then by breathing air directly to his nose.
You are doing it right if you can see his chest expand. Continue rescue breathing every 5 seconds to make sure that oxygen is getting into his lungs.
First of all, make sure that his airways his clear and you are able to perform rescue breathing. (See instructions for not breathing)
Lay your pet on a flat surface on his right side. Place your hands on top of each other, over the widest part of your pet’s rib cage.
In this position, you will be giving chest compressions or CPR.
For smaller pets, wrap your hands around his rib cage and place your fingers on one side of his chest and your thumb on the opposite side.
Begin compressions by pushing down on his rib cage with firm, swift compressions. Make sure to compress only up to 1/3 of the width of his chest.
Continue giving rescue breathing and CPR by giving one breath every 15 compressions.
Gently squeeze down his abdomen using your hands (one hand on top of another) to aid in blood circulation to the heart. There should be one abdominal push for every set of 15 compressions and one rescue breath.
Continue the whole CPR process until your pet starts to breathe and has regained a stable pulse.
If there are still no vital signs after 20 minutes, discontinue CPR as it is very unlikely to revive your pet at this point.
Please keep in mind that first aid is not meant as a substitute for immediate veterinary care. Its purpose is to give your dog a better fighting chance until rescue arrives or until he is taken to the nearest veterinary clinic.
First aid knowledge is often overlooked by pet owners until such time they have experienced it first hand or have personally witnessed an emergency situation.
Arming yourself with this knowledge would give you peace of mind and relief that you are ready for such a scenario and you are capable of helping others who would find themselves and their pets in similar situations.