First Aid

What do you do if something happens to your pet, before you can get to the vet? Sometimes there are situations that call for immediate attention in order to get your pet to the vet. Here's a helpful list of things to have on hand in case of emergency, and a few tips on what to do in the most common emergency situations.

Remember: First Aid is NOT a substitute for veterinary care! These are things you can do until you get to the veterinary clinic.

Keep on your fridge important numbers:

Visiting Vet: 330-665-5915 (after hours, follow instructions on the message)
Animal Emergency Clinic (Dr. Gaffney works here): 216-362-6000
Metropolitan Animal Hospital: 330-666-2976
Akron Veterinary Emergency Clinic: 330-665-4996
Animal Poison Control Center: 888-426-4435 (888-4ANI-HELP)

First Aid Kit for Your Pet: rolled gauze, non-stick bandages or strips of cloth, adhesive tape for bandages (NOT band-aids), milk of magnesia, hydrogen peroxide, digital thermometer (the "fever" and fast type) muzzle, leash, stretcher- a board or mat will do

Handling a Sick and Injured Animal: *Even the most docile pet may bite when injured, due to pain or disorientation. Keep yourself safe! Be sure you and the pet are in a safe area (such as in a hit by car emergency). *Practice making a do-it-yourself muzzle: use rolled gauze, a necktie, an extra leash or rope to safely keep your pet from biting you. Make a loop in the rope, and make as if to tie a knot. Loop this around the nose, and bring the ends to the back of the head, and tie behind the ears. This should keep the pet from being able to open the mouth. NEVER do this if the pet is vomiting. *If you do not know the animal, be aware that there is always a risk of rabies. Stay safe, do not get bitten! If you are bitten by an animal, call your physician immediately.

Bleeding: *Use clean gauze or a towel over the wound and keep firm pressure for several minutes to help clotting. Hold pressure for 3 to 5 minutes (time yourself!) before checking if the bleeding has stopped. *Leg wounds: apply a pressure bandage to the wound, but be sure it is not so tight that the circulation is cut off to the toes. *ANY bleeding can be life threatening, so please- call us or the nearest emergency clinic! *Bleeding from the nose, mouth, rectum or in urine: transport to the vet immediately.

Burns: *Chemical burns: flush the area immediately with lots of water, then have the pet seen as soon as possible. *Heat/ fire burns: apply ice water compresses to the burn. Never put an ice cube directly on the skin; wrap in a moist paper towel or washcloth.

Choking: *CAUTION! A pet that is choking is more likely to bite, in panic. *If your pet is able to breathe, do nothing except transport to the nearest clinic. *Look into your pet's mouth (don't get bitten!). If you can see the object, you may try and remove it with pliers or tweezers; be careful not to push it further down! It is best to get the pet to a vet immediately. *If the pet collapses: try and push the object out by sharply pushing air out of the lungs to dislodge it. To do this: place hands on both sides of the rib cage and give quick, firm pressure. Or lay the pet on its side, and strike the rib cage with the palm- firmly- 3 to 4 times.

Fractures: *Do your best to keep the pet still and supported while you transport the animal to the vet. *DO NOT try and set the leg, or splint it! This can cause more damage. *Put the pet on a stretcher of some sort, and try to keep the pet calm and still- a towel or blanket wrapped around the pet may help.

Heatstroke: *NEVER LEAVE A PET IN A CAR ON WARM DAYS!!! Even on a day that doesn't seem as hot, the temperature can rise quickly in a car. *If you cannot get to the vet immediately: move the pet to the shade. *Wrap a cool/ cold wet towel around the head and neck, but leave the nose and mouth free to breathe. Resoak the towel every few minutes so that it stays cool, and reapply. *Hose the animal off or place in a cool bath. Be careful to check the pet's temperature, rectally with the thermometer, to be sure you do not over cool the pet. *Even if you cool the pet off, the veterinarian needs to see the animal to be sure it is stable- dehydration can be very dangerous in a small animal.

Not Breathing: * Don't panic! You cannot help your pet or your family if you panic. *Is the pet conscious? *Open the pet's mouth, pull the tongue out and forward until flat. Look down the throat with a flashlight and see if something is blocking the airway. (see: Choking) *Rescue breathing: close the pet's mouth, and hold your hand around the muzzle. Breathe directly into the pet's nose and watch the chest to see it rise. Once it rises, continue the breathing 4-5 seconds.

Poison/ Toxins: *If you know exactly what your pet got into, bring the box with you to your vet. *If you cannot get to your vet immediately, call the animal poison control hotline (888-4ANI-HELP) for advice on what to do. They will need the following: species (canine/ feline etc); breed; age; sex; weight; symptoms/ product. *Although you can sometimes help the pet by inducing vomiting, it is safer to have the pet at the vet's office as there can be complications.

Seizures: *Try and keep the pet away from any objects that can hurt it. *DO NOT restrain the animal, keep yourself safe! *Time the seizure, make note of how the animal behaved, and transport to the vet as soon as it is safe to do so.

Shock: *What it looks like: weak pulse, listless/dull, glazed eyes, shallow breathing, nervous, collapsed *Keep the animal calm, warm and restrained; transport immediately to a veterinarian. *If the pet is unconscious, keep the head level with the rest of the body.

Article adapted from the AVMA first aid article at www.avma.org/firstaid/procedures.asp.