April is ‘Pet First Aid Month’, and knowing what to do in an emergency really can make all the difference. As part of the ‘Canine Brain Box’ our subscribers get monthly health care tips from Veterinary Nurse Meg Richards (@megthervn). In today’s blog we’ve put together some of Meg’s top tips so you can feel calm and confident in dealing with an emergency.
How to respond in an emergency situation
- Don’t panic - if your pet is injured, it is much more helpful to them if you can try and stay calm
- Call your Vet - explain what has happened with as much detail as possible and let them know that you’re on your way. If it is an evening or weekend, be aware that you may have to travel to your practice’s local out-of-hours Vet.
- Don’t try to deal with serious injuries yourself - this could put you and your pet in danger.
- Don’t give your pet anything to eat or drink unless your Vet tells you to.
Be prepared for emergencies - it could save your pet's life!
- Keep your Vet’s name, address and telephone number stored in your mobile phone, your landline, and kept in an address book or safe place around the home.
- Keep a pen and paper handy to take down any important instructions from your Vet.
- Keep a pet first aid kit at home and with you when you’re travelling.
Dealing with common accidents and injuries
Haemorrhage and wounds
Haemorrhage and wounds are emergency scenarios requiring Veterinary treatment, especially if there is excessive bleeding, however on your way to the surgery there are some first aid techniques that you can use to help your pet.
- Try and minimise stress for your pet in order to attempt to keep their blood pressure within normal limits
- You can try to slow or stop the bleed by applying a light pressure dressing can help to stop the bleed until you can reach your Vet
- This pressure dressing should not be too tight or restrictive so as to not damage the tissues, but apply enough pressure to stem the bleeding.
- You can use a reusable pad and cover with Vet wrap for each layer
- Keep your pet warm, wrapped in blankets or towels
- Once the dressing is in place, apply direct pressure for 5 minutes with your hand
- If blood seeps through the first dressing, you can apply one other on top.
- If blood seeps through the second dressing, remove both and apply a fresh one.
- Take all dressings to the surgery with you so the Veterinary Surgeon can ascertain how much blood has been lost.
There are many reasons your dog may collapse. If your dog has collapsed:
- Talk to them in a calm, quiet voice
- Reassure them, they may be scared
- Make sure they’re in a cool, safe place
If your dog has collapsed you should contact your vet immediately. If you’re unsure whether your dog is breathing, while on the phone to your vet you can check the following:
- Pull the tongue forward
- Check there is nothing in the throat
- If there is something blocking the airway and it is possible, remove it. Take care not to get bitten.
- Look and listen to your pet. Are they breathing? Can you see their chest rising and falling or feel their breath coming from their nostrils?
- If they’re not breathing, immediately check for a heartbeat.
- Place your hand or ear over the chest, where the elbow meets the ribcage. Can you feel or hear a heartbeat?
Insect Bites & Stings
While it can be difficult to prevent bites and stings, we can be monitoring and catching symptoms early and checking our pets following a walk. Common areas for stings and bites are the nose and muzzle, paws and chest.
Insect stings can be distressing for both dog and owner, causing swelling and discomfort, allergic reactions, and in severe cases cause anaphylactic shock. They commonly occur on limbs and mouths. Where a sting results in swelling of the mouth, neck or nose, this can obstruct breathing.
If your pet has been stung, try to remain calm. Bring your pet inside and call your veterinary surgeon who will advise you further and likely request to examine your pet.
If your dog will tolerate it, you can place an ice pack, wrapped in a tea towel, on the sting for a few minutes whilst on the phone to your vet. If you don’t have access to an icepack, applying saline solution to a reusable pad and applying this to the area will soothe it.
To neutralise a sting you can apply a small amount of the following, on a cotton pad, to bee or wasp stings.
- Bee Stings - apply bicarbonate of soda to the area
- Wasp Stings - apply vinegar to the area