According to the American Animal Hospital Association, accidents are the leading cause of death among dogs and cats before their senior years, and 25 percent of pets could have survived if first aid was given before emergency care. Those with pets should consider taking a pet first aid class at a local animal shelter or watch instructional videos online. Dr. Jules Benson, vice president of Veterinary Services at Petplan, offers some tips for pet owners:
Set up a kit: Every pet household should have a pet first aid kit that includes basic medical supplies like gauze, hydrogen peroxide, a medicine dropper and bandages. Kits should have the pet's vaccination records and medical history, pet insurance information and a recent photo.
Get the numbers: Learn to check your pet's vital signs, including heart rate, breathing rate and body temperature. Take his vitals once a week or so, and jot down his normal numbers in a journal in your first aid kit. This information could come in handy as a baseline in case of emergency.
Spot the signs: Learn how to spot warning signs and how best to take action for:
Poisoning: If your pet is lethargic or experiencing vomiting or diarrhea, he or she may have eaten something toxic. Try to identify what your pet ate, and how much, and call your vet. Keep your first aid kit nearby in case you're directed to give your pet something to counteract the toxin. Do not induce vomiting unless directed, because some chemicals can cause more harm if they're brought back up. Get your pet to an emergency vet as soon as possible.
Seizures: Seizing pets might twitch and shake, foam at the mouth and/or vomit. Remain calm and clear away anything that could injure them, such as furniture. Do not try to hold your pet still, as he or she could inadvertently kick or scratch you. Try to track how long the seizure lasts, and keep your pet quiet once it has ended. Call your vet as soon as your pet is calm.
Bleeding: If you spot an open wound, don't worry about examining it. Instead, focus on using clean, dry cloths to apply direct pressure to stop the bleeding. Do not wrap it tightly, but loosely tape a bandage over it as you transport your pet to the vet. If the bleeding is from a severe injury, such as a fracture, support the injury gently and get your pet to the veterinarian.