Be prepared because accidents do happen
Q: I take my dog almost everywhere that I go. I'm always concerned that she will get hurt or attacked by another animal while we are at the park or out walking. Could you please give me some first aid tips in case I ever find myself in this situation?
A: Sometimes, accidents happen when you least expect them. Being prepared in case of an emergency can help you get the necessary help your pet will need as quickly as possible.
Try to keep your pet as calm as possible. Calling your regular veterinary clinic or emergency clinic is one of the first things you can do. If you need to take your pet in, you need to arrange that as quickly as possible. Transporting an injured pet properly is very important as improper technique may result in further injury. Wrapping a leash or small rope a couple of times around the muzzle and tying it or holding it behind the head will protect everyone from getting bit. Keeping your pet on her side will assist your pet in easy respiration. Small dogs/cats can be transported best in a travel crate or kennel. If you don't have one, a laundry basket is also ideal. Bigger dogs might travel better if you are able to place them on a large board or piece of plywood.
If your pet has a cut, some blood should be expected. To stop bleeding, gently press a clean cloth, feminine sanitary napkin or gauze over the bleeding area for 3-5 minutes. This time will allow the blood to clot in the wound. If the blood seeps through the first layer of compress, apply a second without removing the first. If the blood is coming from a limb, a tourniquet can be applied to get the bleeding to stop. A shoe string tied tightly around the pets leg often works very well. Once the bleeding is under control, placing a small bandage or wrap around the wound, until the pet can be seen by a veterinarian, is OK. If the wound is small, an over the counter antibiotic ointment can be applied with the bandage. Some signs of internal bleeding are pale gums, cool extremities, coughing up blood or nose bleeds.
In any emergency situation, make sure you contact your veterinarian as soon as possible so your pet receives treatment for his or her injuries.
Dr. John Beck has a veterinary practice at Hillcrest Animal Hospital in Victoria. Submit questions to Dr. Beck at firstname.lastname@example.org.