Let’s say your dog breaks its bone while playing, or your cat gets injured in a street fight. In such instances, having some idea about animal first aid can prove to be very useful.
What is pet first aid?
First aid is usually the first, immediate form of treatment or help you can provide your pet who may be going through a major or minor injury/illness. Although it is not an alternative for professional treatment, it can help you rescue your pet until a vet can take the situation in their own hands.
Stages of First Aid
- Recognizing signs and symptoms right away
- Assessing the situation calmly
- Applying first aid treatment according to the injury
- Asking for professional veterinary assistance
Why should owners know about first aid?
Knowledge about first-aid can help minimize the chances of a situation worsening. Furthermore, it can help us practice preventative care regarding pets so accidents leading to injury do not happen in the first place. First aid is also vital in emergencies, when vets are not available right away.
Following are a few situations that require first aid and how you should do it:
- Limb Injuries: Fractures, Joint dislocation, Ligament injury
If your pet has a broken limb or ligament, you should take care that it does not run away as this will lead to more injuries. Instead, it should be resting more.
You can apply first aid by:
- Using household items like rubber tubes, tape, cloth or bubble wrap as bandages around the fractured area which will secure the bones until a vet appointment is possible.
- Applying ice packs for 15mins every couple of hours can also help reduce swelling.
- Oral Problems: Vomiting, Poisoning
These are problems related to the mouth. Taking care of the diet and what the dog ingests is crucial here.
If the cat or dog is vomiting,
- Do not overfeed them or give them too much variety of foods – a bland diet will help. If vomiting continues, withhold food for 12-24hrs and give water and fluids instead.
- Take a sample of their saliva to the vet who can test it and find the real issue.
In case of poisoning,
- Do not touch their mouth as this can poison you too
- If their skin has chemical odor, wash it mildly with soap
- Induce vomiting by giving them 1 tbs of hydrogen peroxide in their food
- Excretory Problems: Bloody faeces and urine
To avoid excretory complications, paying attention to the litter box and littering habits of pets is important.
If the you see these problems,
- See whether the faeces is loose or solid – you should know how to describe it to your vet
- Take a sample of the faeces to the vet who can test it and find the real issue
(Related: Learn more about bloody faeces here.)
External bleeding is caused due to street fights, injuries or contact with sharp objects.
If an area on the body, legs or claws is bleeding,
- Wash the area with water
- Wrap the area with gauze or an absorbent towel
- Apply slight pressure to stop bleeding. You can also use ice
If the ears are bleeding,
- Do not pour water in them as this is very dangerous. Instead, wipe the blood with a damp towel
- Bandage the ears
- Other physical injuries: Burns, Cuts and wounds
- Immerse the body part in water or use ice to cool
- Do not apply sticky bandages
- If you need to take the pet to the vet, use plastic surfaces or boxes to transport them instead of soft bedding
- Make sure your dog or cat does not get too cold – wrap them in a blanket if necessary.
In case of cuts or wounds,
- Clip/trim the area around the wound or cut
- Use hydrogen peroxide moistened gauze 3 to 4 times a day to clean and reduce the risk of reinfection
- Use antibiotic ointment on the affected area
Reduce the risk of this beforehand by not taking your dog for a walk on an extremely hot day.
However, if heatstroke occurs,
- Lower body temperature urgently by going to a cooler or shaded area or in front of a fan.
- Pour cool water on the dog. Avoid extremely cold water.
- Make use of wet towels
- Shocks and Seizures
A dog or cat going through a seizure can be scary, but remaining calm can help save their life.
For first aid during a seizure,
- Do not place any object or fingers in the pets mouth
- Minimize noise and keep the surrounding light low
- Wrap them in a blanket for protection
- Pull the pet away from furniture to avoid any more injury
- Take note of the time the seizure lasted
- Contact your vet immediately
- Breathing difficulty or Choking
This usually occurs because the cat or dog has ingested an object. In other cases, it can be an indicator to a serious health problem.
For first aid you should,
- Restrain the dog or cat so that it does not bite while panicking
- Use a pair of large tweezers to retrieve any object stuck in the mouth, do not use fingers
- Place hands on the sides of the pet’s ribcage and push. Try striking the ribcage lightly a few times to push air out of the lungs
- For larger dogs, lift back legs and tilt their body. For smaller dogs/cats, hold them upside down and shake slightly.
- Alternatively, try thrusting the abdomen with your fist
If situations worsen during an emergency, feel free to contact us on the PetsWorld website.