According to the American Animal Hospital Association, 25 percent more pets would survive a medical emergency if first aid was used on just one pet on its way to the veterinarian's office. In light of Pet First Aid Awareness Month in April, Dr. Jules Benson, vice president of Veterinary Services at Petplan Pet Insurance, shares these tips:
Know your stuff: There are many resources for pet parents to learn pet first aid, including the American Red Cross, which offers classes in many local chapters. Just type in your zip code on www.redcross.org to find class listings. You can also ask your veterinarian about local resources or classes being offered in your area.
Compile a kit: In addition to learning first aid, Petplan recommends that pet parents keep a simple, easy-to-carry first aid kit handy, complete with the most useful items for most pet emergencies. It should include: gauze for wrapping wounds; nonstick bandages and bandage tape; scissors; saline flush; antibiotic ointment; towels or strips of clean cloth; milk of magnesia, hydrogen peroxide, a digital thermometer and tweezers.
Keep it close: When an accident occurs, you want to be able to grab the kit and go. Store it out of reach of prying paws, but be sure it's not buried in the basement either. Consider two kits — one for home and one to keep in the car — in case an accident happens on the road.
Personalize it: Print out your pets' vaccination and medical history to include in the kit, as well as contact numbers for your vet and the closest emergency after-hours vet clinic.
Accidents are not only harmful for pets, but can also hurt the family budget. According to 2011 Petplan claims data, the national average cost of veterinary care for a pet who was hit by a car was $1,450 per incident, with costs reaching as high as $11,700 in one case.