We all dread the thought that our pet may become injured or suddenly sick, but in reality it's something which a lot of owners will have to deal with at some stage.When faced with an emergency situation, it can be easy to lose your head. Keeping calm and not succumbing to panic is very important, and if you have a plan to follow if an injury or illness befalls your pet, you will find it much easier to think clearly.Here are some guidelines on how to prepare for a pet related accident or emergency, and some basic pet first aid advice for the most common emergency situations.
Symptoms of poisoning in your dog or cat in the early stages can include acute vomiting and nausea, excessive salivation and diarrhoea, as well as a generally unsettled and unhappy manner. As the poisoning progresses, this can lead to coughing up blood, a racing heart, collapse and fitting.If you know or suspect your pet has been poisoned, the first thing to do is remove the source of the poisoning. Contact your vet straight away and explain the situation. Keep both the substance which you suspect the animal has ingested, and any packaging which it came in, and take these with you to the vet. Do not induce vomiting, or give milk or water to your pet, nor do anything else without the vet's direction.
An animal's heart can stop beating suddenly after an injury or accident or even as a result of shock.Should this occur, it's vital to perform heart massage and artificial respiration right away, and have someone contact a veterinary surgeon for immediate advice.To perform heart massage, place the heel of your hand just behind the pet's elbow on the left of the chest. Place your other hand on top and press down firmly but not hard. The amount of pressure you use and how firmly you perform cardiac massage will vary greatly depending on the pet- cats ad small dogs will require a much lighter pressure than large and deep chested dogs. For smaller pets, you may need to perform cardiac massage with the tips of your fingers rather than the heel of your hand.To deliver rescue breaths to your pet, lay the animal on its side, with the neck stretched out as much as possible. Pull the tongue forwards and check for any obstructions. Hold the animal's mouth closed, and breathe into their nostrils for around two to three seconds. You should see the lungs inflate when you do this- if the lungs do not inflate, check that air is not escaping through the mouth, and that the head is positioned correctly.If your pet does not have a heartbeat, deliver six chest compressions (around one per second) and then one rescue breath. Repeat the procedure until the animal begins to breathe unaided or until you are advised by the vet to stop.If your pet still has a heartbeat but has stopped breathing, perform a series of rescue breaths lasting for two to three seconds each until the pet begins to breathe unaided or you are advised to stop.
If your pet has acquired a bite, puncture or cut that's worse than just a surface graze, this requires veterinary attention and may need stitching. The first thing you should do in this situation is aim to stop the bleeding, or at least reduce it as much as possible. Elevate the area to above the level of the heart (if possible) and apply firm pressure over the wound with clean dressings such as you'd find in a first aid kit. It is important also to try and keep the wound clean and free of infection, but not as important as it is to minimise blood loss in the initial stages. As soon as the animal is safe to move, take them to the vet. Remember that your pet may be suffering from the onset of shock as well as the injury, so try to keep them calm, talk to them in a reassuring voice, and minimise any further stress.
If your animal comes in with a broken or dislocated limb, there is little you can do for them at home. You should take them to the vet as soon as possible. An animal will not place any weight on a broken or dislocated leg, nor attempt to walk on it. A broken or dislocated limb will be extremely painful; you should avoid touching it, both to avoid further distress to the animal and also for your own safety- injured animals can lash out. Try to minimise movement, keeping a cat restrained in a carrier and a dog secured on a lead until you arrive at the vets.