April is National Pet First-Aid Awareness Month and the perfect time to talk about your knowledge on common pet injuries. Think about it, if you or your human child get a cut, scrape, or have a general skin issue you probably have a pretty good idea about next steps and proper care. What about if you or someone you know happens to ingest something you shouldn’t? The average person can take the steps necessary to get through the scary stuff, but what if that happens to your furry friend?
Thanks to The American Red Cross, April is devoted to educating and preparing pet owners in the case of any number of common emergencies. This means getting you, your home, and your care ready!
Photo Credit: American Red Cross
What education and training do I need?
Whether you are the proud owner of a dog, cat, rabbit or something more exotic there are some basic things that will make an unexpected event a bit easier to handle. The best way to increase your knowledge and preparedness is to take a class specific to pet first aid. The American Red Cross launched an online program that is less than an hour and covers:
- How to determine a pet’s normal vital signs so you can spot abnormalities
- A Step-by-step guide for what to do in the event of a choking pet, if CPR is needed and how to conduct, how to treat a wound, and steps to take during a pet having a seizure
- Important preventative care and health tips
Don’t think a class is right for you, let’s talk some basics.
Wounds: this is the most common concern that pet owners will encounter. Similar to a cut or scrape you might get, your dog and cat can be treated at home if it is not too severe.
Determine if the injury is a puncture, scrape, or laceration. Deep punctures or lacerations will frequently need sutures and antibiotics from your vet. If that is the case wrapping the area and calling your vet is the best option.
If you have a minor wound, clean the area with clean warm water, making sure to watch for debris stuck in the wound and be sure to remove it. Be sure to clean the surrounding fur as it usually collects dirt etc.
Apply a topical ointment to inhibit infection. While we use popular triple-antibiotic creams, they are not ideal for our pets, but can be used in a pinch. Pet specific sprays and creams are best just in case they decide to lick the area.
Time to wrap-up. The same gauze you might use is just fine for Fido, however the outer wrap is important too. Most pups especially will want to lick and chew the area, so a water resistant sport wrap is ideal, and if they still persist…. It is time for a cone!
Most importantly be sure to check the would daily and keep it clean and dry. Just like with us, be aware of signs of infection, fever and change in personality… they mean it is time to call the vet.
Choking: this is especially common with young pups and there is a simple guide to doggie Heimleich.
What should I have on-hand… just in-case?
We have all gone looking for a band-aid and not been able to find one, we don’t want that to be the case if something happens to our pets. The best idea is to put together a pet specific emergency kit for your house and if you travel, something for your car. Most everything can be found at your favorite local pet store.
Home Emergency Kit should Include:
First-Aide: Rolls of gauze, self-adhering bandages (don’t stick to their fur), pet safe antiseptic cleaner, pet safe antibiotic ointment, waterproof sport wrap, scissors, nail trimmers.
Treats: It is always a good idea to keep high-value treats on hand, especially when your pets are scared.
Emergency extras: This kit is a great place to also keep items in the case of a natural disaster. This includes sealed food for each pet for at least 3 days, a water bowl, bottled water, a blanket or towel and a copy of your pets’ medical info.
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