Emergency First Aid Dogs
If your dog is injured or has an unexpected medical emergency, it's important to act quickly. Knowing how to act in different situations can be the difference between life and death.
- Always have a first aid kit ready.
- Act cautiously. If your pet has been injured, remember that frightened or hurt dogs can bite the people they know and love. Small dogs (who do not have fractured bones) can be wrapped snugly in an old towel.
- Slow down external bleeding with manual compression or a compression bandage around the limbs. Tourniquets are generally not advisable because they can inadvertently cut the circulation from the limb.
- Do not move your dog unnecessarily. Lift injured dogs with a board or blanket if they cannot walk.
- Keep your dog warm, particularly if unconscious, wet, or in shock from haemorrhage or other trauma.
- For dogs that are clearly not breathing, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) may help. Artificial breathing in small dogs may be accomplished with chest compressions; in larger animals, air can be blown through the nose while the dog's mouth is manually closed. Heart compressions may be effective while the dog is lying on his side. Remember that vigorous CPR can be dangerous if the dog is breathing or has a beating heart.
Specific medical conditions
Heatstroke or exhaustion: go straight to a vet hospital. In transit, mist your pet's body with cool water or wrap loosely in a wet towel.
Eye injuries: treat any eye injuries by moistening the exposed eyeball covering it gently and applying gentle compression, if needed, to stop bleeding. Eye injuries require immediate attention.
Diabetes: if your dog has been diagnosed with diabetes mellitus and has a hypoglycaemic crisis (but is not unconscious), continually place sugar water or honey on the tongue until you can get to a vet and measure the blood glucose level.
Seizure: in the event of any seizure, however brief, phone your vet, who will advise if you should bring in your dog and run any potential risks of travelling. Seizures lasting longer than a minute, or repeated brief seizures, are a medical emergency and require immediate attention.
If your dog is having a fit
- Keep your distance, as some dogs can bite if crowded and frightened and you may be just adding to their stress.
- Move any potentially harmful objects out of the way.
- Turn off all stimuli such as the radio, TV and lights - a quiet, calm and dark environment is best.
- Phone your vet for advice.
If your cat is injured or has an unexpected medical emergency, you need to be able to act quickly and effectively. Knowing how to act in different situations can make the difference between life and death.
Car accidents or serious falls
- Carefully remove your cat from further danger, as they may have broken bones and internal injuries.
- Make a 'stretcher' out of a rug or coat and gently slide your cat onto it, carefully supporting the whole body.
- Be careful not to twist the body. Hold the head just a little lower than the rest of the body to keep the blood flowing to the brain.
- Keep your cat warm until you reach the vet.
How to handle an injured cat
- Injured cats will be frightened and in pain, and may lash out.
- Approach your cat slowly and softly. If possible, wear gloves and keep your face well away.
- Hold your cat gently but firmly by the scruff of the neck for restraint, then place your hand under the hindquarters for support.
- Wrap the animal in a blanket or towel to prevent any struggling.
- Place your cat in a carrier and take him or her to the vet immediately. If possible, call your vet before you arrive.
To stop bleeding
- Firmly apply a cold compress over the wound to stem the blood flow. Do not use disinfectant.
- Contact your vet as quickly as possible for treatment
- Symptoms include drooling, severe vomiting, diarrhea, staggering, convulsions, and abnormal eye movements.
- Contact your vet and, if you know, tell them what substance your cat has ingested.
- Vitamin K injections are the antidote to the most common form of rat poison, but treatment must be given quickly.
- Do not induce vomiting unless your vet advises it.
- If your cat's coat has smears of paint or oil on it, soften with petroleum jelly or vegetable oil, bathe with warm soapy water or swarfega, and rinse well.
Scalds and burns
- Flush the burn with plenty of cold running water for several minutes.
- Never cover the burnt area.
- Consult your vet as quickly as possible.
- After rescuing, a conscious cat must be wrapped in a towel and kept warm.
- If your cat is unconscious, first check for a heartbeat, then other injuries. Hold your cat's head lower than it's chest to help drain water from the lungs.
- Lie the cat sideways, with the head lower than the chest. Clear any debris from the mouth and pull the tongue forwards.
- If this doesn't stimulate breathing, attempt artificial respiration by pressing very carefully down on the animal's chest with the flat of your hand using a short, sharp push. Allow the lungs to refill with fresh air, then repeat every five seconds until your cat starts to breathe.
- If there is no sign of life after 30 seconds, try mouth-to-nose respiration. Tilt back your cat's head, hold the mouth shut and blow short gentle breaths into both nostrils for three seconds to inflate the lungs. Be careful not to over inflate the lungs. Then pause for two seconds and repeat. Continue until your cat starts breathing
Insect bites and stings
- Remove an embedded bee sting with tweezers. Do not squeeze, as the sting will release more poison.
- Bee and ant stings are acid, so bathe the area with an alkali, such as sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) dissolved in cold water.
- Wasp stings are alkaline, so treat with diluted lemon juice or vinegar.
- A sting in the mouth or throat will swell rapidly and can result in asphyxiation, so rush your cat to the vet.
Problems with choking
- A sewing needle, or fish or poultry bone may lodge against the roof of your cat's mouth, or get stuck in the throat.
- Restrain your cat in a towel. Open their mouth, but be careful not to tilt the head back as the object may drop into the throat.
- If you can see the object, remove it with blunt-ended tweezers. Don't pull a visible thread, as it may be attached to an object in the stomach.
- If you can't find the object, contact your vet urgently.
- Before you touch an electrocuted cat, switch off the power and remove the plug from the socket, or you will also receive an electric shock.
- If your cat has chewed through an electrical wire, the mouth and tongue may be burned. Electrical burns can result in shock and cardiac arrest, so contact your vet urgently.
- Heatstroke, severe vomiting or diarrhea, kidney disease or diabetes can cause your cat to lose vital body fluids.
- Pinch the loose skin at the back of your cat's neck and lift it up. If it falls back slowly, your cat is dehydrated. Gums may also fell dry and tacky in the early stages.
- Contact your vet urgently as severe dehydration causes fits and can be fatal.