Seeing a beloved pet injured or ill is one of the most difficult moments for any pet owner. 24 hour animal hospital services are saving lives all over the country. Unfortunately, people cannot call 911 and have a paramedic at the door in a matter of moments to stabilize their animals during their ride to the clinic. The owners must take the initiative to do this themselves. Here are some fast and simple ways any dog owner can help to increase the odds of recovery for their pet.
Assemble a First Aid Kit
A small kit will not cost much to assemble and can be stored wherever first aid supplies are kept. Include gauze pads and bandages, sterilizing wipes, a sterile saline solution for cleaning wounds and several pairs of disposable gloves. Also have on hand a rectal thermometer, ice pack and scissors for trimming bandages. A muzzle should also be included, because even a friendly dog may try to bite when it is in pain and scared. Enclose a record of their health history in a sealed plastic bag so it will be available for the clinic, and write the phone number of the nearest emergency clinic on the papers or the bag.
Call Ahead to the Clinic
Call the clinic to let them know what is happening, and how long it will be before you arrive. This will allow them the time to prepare. In instances like poisonings or allergic reactions, it will also make it possible to get some additional advice about immediate treatment that can be provided at home.
Administering First Aid
Poisoning: In the instance of a poisoning, follow the instructions on the label first before calling the clinic. Bring the bottle to the clinic, along with any samples of vomit that may be available.
Controlling Bleeding: Elevate the area if possible, and apply pressure with a clean gauze pad over the wound. After 2-3 minutes, check to see if the flow has slowed. If it has, bandage the area and get them to help. If not, continue to apply pressure while seeking assistance. If a limb is bleeding uncontrollably, a tourniquet should be applied.
Choking or not Breathing: Quickly inspect the throat to see if anything is visible. Use a finger to sweep into the mouth (be cautious, because the dog may bite) to feel for any foreign objects. If possible, the owner should attempt the following while being driven to the clinic by someone else. If the pet is unconscious, lay them on their side and push quickly on the rib cage to attempt to clear the throat. Pull the tongue forward to see if an item is visible in the throat. If they are not breathing, close their mouth and blow air directly into their nose.
Burns: Chemical burns should be flushed thoroughly with a sterile saline fluid immediately to remove any of the chemical that may remain. Once flushed, do the same as you would for any other burn--apply an ice pack to the injured area and get them to help.
Do not go Alone
Try to have a family member, neighbor or friend come along on a trip to the clinic. It will be impossible to monitor a pet and concentrate on the road as well. All animals should be crated unless their injury is too severe to make it safe for them to be put into the crate.
It is very easy for people to become overwhelmed when they see their pet in pain, but being prepared is the best way to be confident in these types of moments. Purchase a first aid book and study it thoroughly to understand how to apply tourniquets, perform pet CPR and other helpful tips. Afterwards, keep the book on hand with the first aid kit.