A medical emergency among the worst nightmares for any pet owner. Even minor injuries can be stressful, especially if they happen far from available medical care or during non-business hours.
Though an owner can’t always prevent every ailment in their four legged friend, they can prepare to handle these situations.
Dr. Igor Yankin, a clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, advises pet owners on what supplies and knowledge they should have to administer basic first aid to their pet in an emergency.
Yankin first advises that pet owners take a basic first aid course geared toward their animal. These courses can be found online or can be taken in-person at certain locations. Your veterinarian may be able to help you find a class that is the best option for you and your animal.
Financial preparation is also important in case of a pet emergency. In addition to an emergency examination fee, owners may also need to finance diagnostic tests and treatments. If your pet must stay the night at a medical facility, prices inflate further.
Yankin said pet owners can purchase health insurance for their pet to ensure that they are able to receive the care they need.
“It is well-known that veterinary care can be cost-prohibitive for owners, and during emergencies, the financial constraints can sometimes affect whether an owner is able to have their pet treated,” he said.
It is also imperative that pet owners have emergency contact information on-hand, so the proper medical authorities can be contacted promptly. Yankin advises owners to have readily available the phone number, clinic name, and address of their primary veterinarian, as well as the contact information of a local veterinary emergency clinic. Owners should also have contact information for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-44350).
Yankin said pet owners should also keep a pet first-aid kit readily available, containing the following items:
• Absorbent gauze pads, adhesive tape, cotton balls;
• Fresh, 3 percent hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting in dogs (always check with veterinarian or animal poison control expert before giving to your pet, as this solution cannot be used in cats)
• Ice pack
• Disposable gloves
• Scissors with blunt end
• Oral syringe or turkey baster
• Liquid dishwashing detergent (for bathing)
• Small flashlight
• Alcohol wipes
• Styptic powder
• Saline eye solution
• Artificial tear gel
Owners should check in on their first-aid kit every few months to ensure nothing has expired or needs to be replenished.
As the year draws to a close, pet owners should be particularly cognizant about their pet’s environment and double-check that they are prepared for possible incidents.
“The holiday season is the busiest time for emergency veterinarians,” Yankin said. “Pets gain easy access to table scraps that can be poisonous for them (e.g. chocolate, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts), foreign objects that can create bowel blockage if swallowed (e.g. bones, toys, Christmas tree ornaments, etc.), and human drugs that were brought by house guests.”
Yankin said that owners who have any concern about their pet’s health should call their local veterinarian or emergency clinic. From there, a veterinary technician or veterinarian can help determine whether or not the pet should be brought in for examination.
“In general, pets with difficulty breathing, seizures, unresponsive state, acute weakness, fainting, wounds, intractable vomiting and diarrhea, or severe pain should be evaluated by a veterinarian as soon as possible,” Yankin said. “This list is not exhaustive, and I recommend to call a veterinarian if you have any doubts.”
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the web at vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.