First Aid For Your Pet
Aug 01, 2016 11:41AM
by Karin I. Derfuss, DVM, CVA
Emergencies are always scary, but there are some basic techniques that can save you and your pet a trip to the emergency room, or start treatment before you head out to your veterinarian. Quick action can save your pet’s life!
Insect Bites & Stings
Diphenhydramine (Benadryl®) is an important tool against emergent allergic reactions. A dose of 1 mg per pound of body weight for your dog or cat can quickly help to reduce the severity of an allergic reaction. The typical adult tablet or caplet is 25 mg. Liquid products can be more variable, but always read the ingredient panel to check the strength of the product you are using. This can be repeated every 6 – 8 hours. Also, cold water compresses or an oatmeal bath can also be very useful for topical treatment.
Ingesting a Foreign Object or Inappropriate Food
It takes the stomach approximately 4 – 5 hours to empty after eating. If you know when your pet ate an inappropriate item, and you are within this time frame, you can most likely induce vomiting to remove the item or food.
It is very important to feed your dog whatever he or she will eat – canned food, bread, cooked leftovers – whatever is appealing to fill the stomach.
Then administer Hydrogen Peroxide approximately 1 tablespoon at a time, either with a dosing syringe, or with a spoon, directly into the mouth. Wait a few minutes to see if vomiting occurs. If not, repeat the hydrogen peroxide. This can be repeated 3 – 4 times, but usually does not take that long. Be prepared for your pet to vomit, and make sure to look through the contents for the item you are looking for – medications, toys, whatever it may be, and call your veterinarian for further guidance.
Any bleeding wound will benefit from direct pressure. If you have a rag, shirt, gauze – anything to add pressure to and cover the wound can make the difference between life & death. Minor bleeding should subside, but if it does not, this is an absolute emergency that will require veterinary care. If there is any sort of an object sticking out of the wound, it is best NOT to remove it. Sometimes the object is helping to prevent bleeding!
Heatstroke or Overheating
Hot weather can be very dangerous. We must remember that temperature readings are measured in the shade, and climb very quickly in the sun. If your pet is in respiratory distress, does not seem to know who you are or cannot get up, you ABSOLUTELY MUST seek veterinary help immediately. The tongue and gums should be pink, NOT bright red, purple or blue. As you are heading out the door, or if the situation is not this dire, start the following: 1) apply cold compresses or wet towels to the body immediately (NO ICE BATHS, please!), 2) apply rubbing alcohol to the foot pads and ear flaps, and 3) offer cool water which you may drip onto the gums and tongue, but never pour into the mouth. A dog’s or cat’s normal body temperature is 99 - 102°. If you are brave enough to get a rectal temperature, this can help in determining if your pet is in emergent danger.
Prepare a small emergency kit to take with you when you travel! An emergency can happen anywhere.
Dr. Karin Derfuss graduated from Cook College (Rutgers University) before attending Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine. She is IVAS certified in veterinary acupuncture and continues her integrative studies through IVAS, CIVT and the Chi Institute.
Dr. Derfuss practices at the Branchburg Animal Hospital, 1167 Route 28, Branchburg. 908-707-0045. BranchburgAnimalHospital.com. Facebook: BranchburgAnimalHospital.