For the love of you pet: Be prepared for accidents

By John Beck

I take my dog almost everywhere 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? Thanks.

Well let us hope that this will never be the case. Though I know sometimes accidents happen when you least expect them. Pets are sometimes attacked by other animals, fall and get hurt, get hit by cars, etc. Being prepared in case of an emergency can help you get the necessary help your pet might need as quickly as possible and also keep everyone calm.

If your pet is hurt, the first thing to do is assess the injury. Try to get your pet to stay as calm as possible. Your pet will be feeding off you and your reactions, so try to appear calm even if you are far from it. 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 ASAP.

Transporting an injured pet properly is very important. Improper technique can sometimes result in further injury or complications, and risks a bite injury to you or your vet. Even if your dog has never even considered biting, when they are in pain or scared they might do that. 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. Try to make the pet comfortable by trying to keep them lying down and staying. 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. Some bigger dogs might travel better if you are able to place them on a large board or piece of plywood. Lying a blanket or towel over your pet will also help insulate them from shock and sometimes encourage them to stay lying down.

Pets bleed with injuries just like we do. 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 and you are concerned about infection, an over the counter antibiotic ointment can be applied with the bandage. Don't forget that some bleeding injuries cannot be seen by the naked eye. 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 to make sure your pet receives the proper treatment for his or her injuries. If you have a specific injury you would like to discuss or any other questions, please feel free to contact me or you local veterinarian.

Dr. John Beck has a veterinary practice at Hillcrest Animal Hospital in Victoria. Submit questions to Dr. Beck at drjohnbeck@hotmail.com.