You’re playing in the park together when Rover chokes on a ball. Do you know what to do? This April, animal welfare organizations are asking pet owners to think ahead when it comes to medical emergencies and disasters so they can act quickly to help their pets. You never know when a crisis might arise, and if you’re prepared with pet first aid skills, you might just prevent a tragedy.
Pets can injure themselves by choking, consuming household toxins, getting hit by cars, and in any number of other ways. Just like with humans, very fast action in an emergency can increase the chances of successful long-term treatment, which means you need to be ready with training and a first aid kit tailored to your pet and common emergencies. Luckily, there are lots of resources for you to prepare for animal emergencies.
Pet first aid classes. Veterinary clinics and animal welfare organizations often offer classes so pet parents can learn about what to do in emergencies, covering topics like helping choking animals, inducing vomiting in dogs who’ve ingested something they shouldn’t have, and using activated charcoal to counteract poisons. If a class isn’t available, interested pet owners could gather together to request one. Fees for classes and materials vary; you may want to consider helping organize a free or low-fee class for low-income pet owners.
Pet first aid kit. In an emergency, you want supplies ready at hand. Gauze, bandaging tape, antibacterial ointment, styptic pencils for snapped claws, antibacterial wipes, clean cloths and a thermometer are good things to have available. Does your pet have special medical conditions like allergies or diabetes? Keep supplies in your first aid kit!
Stick a waterproof label on the lid of your first aid kit with emergency phone numbers, including phone numbers for animal poison control hotlines (the ASPCA runs a fee-supported hotline at (888) 426-4435) and emergency veterinarians. Make sure you have a pet carrier readily available, along with leashes and other restraints for mobile pets.
Emergency kit. Sometimes your pet doesn’t need first aid, but you need to be prepared for the worst. If you receive evacuation orders or need to flee your house because of a fire, flooding, or other threats, do you have supplies ready for you and your pet? Make sure to keep copies of important documents including veterinary records, along with a supply of food, medications, toys and bedding. Think ahead so you’re ready to go in an instant, and make sure you have lists of pet-friendly shelters (applications for your phone can also help you locate local shelters and determine if they take pets).
Help your pet find her way home. While not strictly first aid related, Pet First Aid Month is a good time to remind you that you should make sure your pet has the best chance possible of making it home if she gets lost. That means your pet should have a collar and tags along with a microchip; and make sure you maintain a recent, well-lit picture of your pet in case the worst happens. Crisp, clear photographs can be extremely helpful when you’re asking neighbors, veterinarians and animal shelters if they’ve seen your furry, feathered or scaled friend.
Photo credit: Army Medicine