April is Pet First Aid Awareness Month and a time to check in with yourself and get honest about whether you’re prepared should an emergency event take place. It’s okay if the answer is no, but it also means this is the perfect time to learn and take the steps you can take to keep your furry friend safe. It’s important to understand that accidents can happen at any time, and being prepared could be lifesaving for your pet.
First and foremost, it’s essential to know what constitutes a pet emergency that requires immediate care. Some common examples include:
- Choking: Signs of an object lodged in the pet’s airway may include pawing at the mouth, coughing, gagging, or difficulty breathing.
- Difficulty breathing: Difficulty breathing can be caused by several things, including an allergic reaction, asthma, or a foreign object in the airway. Signs of difficulty breathing may include rapid or labored breathing, wheezing, or gasping for air.
- Poisoning: Pets can accidentally ingest poisonous substances like household cleaners, medications, or toxic plants. Signs of poisoning may include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, seizures, or difficulty breathing.
- Seizures: Seizures can occur for various reasons, including epilepsy, head injuries, or toxic exposure. Signs of seizures may include convulsions, loss of consciousness, muscle spasms, or drooling.
- Severe bleeding: Severe bleeding is caused by trauma or injury and can be life-threatening if not treated promptly. Signs of severe bleeding may include rapid or shallow breathing, pale gums, or blood loss from a wound.
One of the most important things you can do to prepare for a pet emergency is to create a First Aid Kit.
It should include the following:
- Non-stick bandages
- 3% Hydrogen Peroxide (vomit-inducing)
- Disposable gloves
- Antiseptic wipes for wound care
- Milk of Magnesia
- Digital thermometer
- Blunt-edge scissors
- Sterile eye solution
- Phone number, clinic name, address of your veterinarian, and local veterinary emergency clinics.
- Your pet’s medical records, as well as any medications they might be taking
- (Bonus: treats!)
A readily available first aid kit can save precious time in an emergency.
Another important aspect of pet first aid is knowing how to perform CPR. While this may seem daunting, there are many resources available that can teach you how to perform CPR on your pet. You can take a class, watch a video, or read a guide online. Being able to perform CPR can make all the difference in a life-threatening scenario.
Creating a Safe Environment
Creating a safe environment for pets is an essential part of pet emergency preparedness. Here are a few actions you can take now:
- Store hazardous substances out of reach: Keep household cleaners, pesticides, and other toxic substances out of reach of pets. Make sure they are stored in locked cabinets or high shelves where pets can’t access them.
- Keep electrical cords and wires inaccessible: Pets may chew on electrical cables and wires, which can lead to electrocution or burns. Secure cords and wires to walls or hide them behind furniture.
- Secure gates, windows, and balcony doors: Cats and dogs may be curious and try to jump out of windows or balcony doors. Make sure to secure windows with screens or keep them closed. Balcony doors should be secured with locks or latches to prevent pets from getting outside.
- Avoid plants that are toxic to pets: Some common household plants are toxic to pets, including lilies, aloe vera, snake plants, and ivy. Make sure to research which plants are safe for pets and avoid those that are toxic.
- Keep small objects stored away: Small things, such as toys, coins, or buttons, can be choking hazards for pets. Keep these objects out of reach and supervise your pet when playing with small toys.
Know When to Seek Professional Help
Last but certainly not least, knowing when to seek professional help is essential. While you may be able to handle some emergencies on your own, others require the expertise of a veterinarian. If you’re ever unsure of what to do, don’t hesitate to contact a professional or an emergency veterinary clinic.
Remember, your pet’s health and safety are in your hands (no pressure!), so taking the time to educate yourself and preparing an emergency plan are the best things you can do for your pup.