Wizard Of Paws

Why every pet owner should know first aid basics

A well-stocked first aid kit for the pet can make all the difference in effectively managing emergencies till professional help can be sought

Dr Nameeta Nadkarni
First Published19 May 2024
If your pet has experienced a fall and is unable to get up, minimise their movement.
If your pet has experienced a fall and is unable to get up, minimise their movement.(iStockphoto)

During an emergency for your pet, it’s wise to promptly contact your veterinarian and make your way to the nearest clinic. Nevertheless, knowing the fundamentals of first aid is important for a pet parent to provide crucial assistance while professional help is en route.

It is essential to keep a first aid kit at home, which includes your veterinarian’s contact details as well as essentials such as a thermometer, bandages, cotton, adhesive tapes, gauze and gloves, apart from antiseptic solutions such as Betadine and antibiotic ointments for wound care. Don’t forget to include pet-specific anti-allergy medication. You can consider including hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting in the pet if necessary, and a muzzle suitable for your dog to prevent biting in stressful situations. Being prepared with a well-stocked first aid kit can make all the difference in effectively managing emergencies.

Also read: The digital downside of pet parenting

One of the most common emergencies is an increase in the pet’s body temperature. Dogs and cats typically have a normal body temperature range of 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature exceeds 103 degrees Fahrenheit, it may indicate a fever. To determine if your pet has a fever, gently introduce the thermometer into your pet’s rectum for an accurate reading. A high-grade fever, above 104.5 degrees Fahrenheit, requires immediate attention.

Use a wet towel to help lower their body temperature. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if it’s appropriate to administer paracetamol to your dog. However, it’s crucial to note that paracetamol is toxic to cats and can be fatal.

For minor cuts and bruises, disinfect the wound with diluted Betadine solution. If there is bleeding, apply firm pressure to the area to stop it. Styptic powders can be applied to help with clotting and stop bleeding. After cleaning and applying pressure, bandage the wound to reduce further bleeding and protect it while you take your pet to the veterinarian. For nosebleeds, hold an ice pack on the snout to help constrict blood vessels until you can seek professional care.

In the case of dog bite wounds, immediately clean the area with Betadine. Dog bites can cause injuries that extend deeper than what is visible on the surface. So, even if the wound appears minor, visit a veterinarian to assess for any internal injuries.

Allergies can manifest in various ways in pets such as severe itching, redness of the skin or in more severe cases, facial swelling. If you notice facial swelling in your pet, immediately consult a veterinary as this can progress to difficulty in breathing, which is life-threatening.

Seizures or fainting episodes in pets also require immediate veterinary attention. During a seizure, it’s essential to minimise all stimuli around your pet. Avoid constantly touching, speaking loudly or shouting as this can exacerbate the situation. Allow the seizure to pass naturally. Once the seizure has ended, carefully move your pet and transport them to the veterinary clinic.

If your pet has experienced a fall and is unable to get up, minimise their movement. Use a blanket to gently lift and support them to help prevent further injury during transportation to a clinic. Fractures can be extremely painful and may cause the pet to lash out or bite. Consider using a muzzle.

The ingestion of foreign objects and toxic substances is a common concern for pet owners. While hydrogen peroxide can be used to induce vomiting in some cases of ingestion, it’s crucial to proceed with caution. In cats, hydrogen peroxide can be particularly irritating to the oesophagus and is not recommended. Additionally, in dogs that have ingested caustic substances like batteries, inducing vomiting may not be the best course of action. Similarly, when a pet has ingested a sharp object, inducing vomiting can pose a risk of further injury. Therefore, it’s essential to use hydrogen peroxide only after consulting a veterinarian.

Nameeta Nadkarni is a veterinary soft tissue surgeon and pet blogger from Mumbai.

Also read: The mean streets are no happy home for stray dogs

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