Understand how to handle pet emergencies

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By Lauren Alexander

 

In honor of National Pet First Aid Awareness Month, here are a few tips for assisting your pet should an injury occur along with how to recognize an emergency situation versus what is normal for your pet.

There are several steps you can take to assist and make your pet more comfortable and safe en route to the emergency facility. In some cases, you may actually be able to save your pet’s life by acting quickly and administering first aid correctly.

When approaching a sick or injured animal (even your own), always move slowly and cautiously. Animals in these situations can lash out when in pain or frightened. A muzzle may be necessary to avoid biting, but muzzling an animal who is vomiting, coughing or having difficulty breathing can be very dangerous. In a situation where an animal is exhibiting these signs, you must weigh the risk of human injury against the risk to that of the animal.

While any injury to your pet is frightening, there are certain situations that are absolute emergencies and must be treated immediately. They include: trauma (car accident, gunshot wound, fall from significant height), seizures (especially first incidence or lasting more than two minutes and recurring repeatedly), cuts and gashes causing internal organs to be exposed or fall out, excessive bleeding (spurting blood, prolonged bleeding), snake bites, hyperthermia/hypothermia, poisoning, shock, open wounds with visible bone/severe tissue damage, burns and   unconsciousness.

In order to recognize abnormal behavior, it is important to learn what is normal for your pet. Familiarize yourself with your pet’s habits – observe how your pet breathes, eats, drinks, walks, urinates and defecates. Becoming familiar with your pet’s everyday habits will make it easier to notice changes that could signal an underlying problem.

The best possible course of action you can take during situations such as these is to remain calm under pressure, and do not panic. Your pet will be more likely to relax if you can. Also, becoming certified in pet first aid and CPR is a great idea and can be a lifesaver in emergency situations. Classes are offered through the Red Cross, and information can be found on their website, www.redcross.org.

 

Lauren Alexander is the camp director and assistant marketing dog at Camp Bow Wow in Carmel.

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