Article: Pet First Aid Awareness to Save Your Dog, Cat, Bird and other Pets
Emergency Awareness For Pet Parents and Families of all Species
With the warm months quickly approaching April is National Pet First Aid Awareness Month. Pets are likely to be outside playing with the rest of the family, so the risks of accidents increases. Even if you do keep them indoors the threats of storms, injuries from accidental falls and other medical situations are always a possibility.
Preparing in advance for any and all possible situations can save your pet's life, plain and simple. While you obviously can't know every medical emergency that might befall your pet, having the proper information and phone numbers at the ready can save precious seconds when you need it the most.
First and foremost, keep your regular vet's number on the fridge and in all your family member's cell phones, that's an easy task to complete. But do you know who your vet uses for after hours and weekend emergencies and where the emergency vet is located? Is that emergency clinic the closest in your neighborhood just in case you have an emergency that calls for a rush? Do you have those numbers posted right next to your regular vet's information? Post an easy to use map to both your vet and the emergency clinic for your baby sitter, pet sitter and family members to use in a flash next to the phone numbers. Just like humans, pet emergencies happen any time of the day and night, and usually when you least expect it.
Have the Right Information Ready
Having all the right emergency procedure information for your pet's care will also help save your pet's life during a crisis. While the internet can be a great resource for most information, searching for emergency medical information can be very frustrating, a little too time consuming, and you may not always get the exact medical information you would get from a veterinarian's published guide.
There are many wonderful books written by qualified professionals on the subject of pet's first aid to keep on hand for dogs, cats and even horses that you can reference during emergencies while you get your pets to the vet.
Knowing what to do in the few first minutes of a critical emergency can make all the difference in how your vet will ultimately treat your pet when you first arrive at the clinic, and for their long term care. It can even mean the difference between life or death when an injury involves bleeding, shock or heart attacks in pets. We highly recommend the Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook (Third Edition) and the Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook (Fourth Edition, which include complete care for your pets.
Toxic Plants, Insects, Animals and Substances
The next emergency to prepare in advance, what if your pet eats a dangerous plant, poisonous insect or small animal or some toxic substance that may be harmful to them? (See the quick list of bad plants, foods and substances)
Do you know the proper reaction for every toxic substance that applies to each species and breed of pet? If you do then you need to be working for the Pet Poison Control Hotline! Yes, there is a special hotline just for pets. Some areas of the country have free pet hotlines, however most areas charge a fee around $60 to the number you call from - cell or home land line. So by doing your research advance will save time, panic, grief and possibly sixty dollars! The above mentioned Veterinarian Handbooks can initially help you in toxic poisoning emergencies too, but you should probably still call your vet or the poison control hotline for additional support.
There are first aid classes offered by Humane Societies and other companies in many cities across the country that can help you learn the proper techniques for pet CPR, temporary splints, wrapping wounds, flushing eyes and many other rescue and life saving tips for your pets.
Please also keep in mind that after the emergency is over and everyone is home safe, Animal Healings offers comfort and healing for your pet family through animal communication and Reiki for animals.
Plants, foods and toxic substances especially harmful to pets:
The following is a quick reference guide for the most common house and garden plants, foods, and other substances that are known to be toxic and possibly fatal to pets. While it is possible to keep these items in your home with your pet family, it is highly recommended to keep items in locations that are unreachable by small children and/or your pets to ensure accidents don't happen. Many pets react differently to other substances, insects, and plants which may not be included on this list, the best policy is to not let them have access if your are unsure until consulting with your vet.
Items marked with an asterisk (*) are substances which are especially dangerous/possibly fatal. For more information, review our list of Toxic food and Plants for Pets
Foods which are toxic and poisonous to pets:
- Alcohol (all alcoholic beverages, ethanol, methanol, isopropyl)
- Apples seeds
- Broccoli (in large amounts)
- Cherry pits
- Chocolate (all types fatal)*
- Coffee grounds, beans & tea (caffeine)
- Hops (used in home brewing)
- Macadamia Nuts
- Mouldy/spoiled foods
- Pear seeds
- Plum seed/pit
- Potato (leaves & stem, peelings, and unripe green potatoes)
- Rhubarb leaves*
- Sugar Free foods with Xylitol (chewing gums, Sodas)
- Tomatoes (leaves & stem, and green tomatoes)
- Walnut hulls
- Yeast dough
Plants which are toxic and/or poisonous to pets:
- Amaryllis bulb*
- Apple seeds (contain cyanide)
- Autumn crocus (Colchicum Autumnale)*
- Avocado (leaves, seeds, stem, skin)* (fatal to birds)
- Azalea (entire rhododendron family)
- Bird of Paradise
- Bleeding heart*
- Bracken fern
- Buttercup (Ranunculus)
- Calla lily*
- Castor bean or castor oil plant* (fatal if chewed)
- Cherry pits (contain cyanide)
- Cherry Chinese sacred or heavenly bamboo*
- Chocolate Choke cherry, unripe berries*
- Chrysanthemum (a natural source of pyrethrins)
- Crocus bulb
- Croton (Codiaeum sp.)
- Crown of Thorns
- Delphinium, larkspur, monkshood*
- Dumb cane (Dieffenbachia)*
- Elderberry, unripe berries*
- Elephant Ear
- English ivy (All Hedera species of ivy)
- Fig (Ficus)
- Four-o'clocks (Mirabilis)
- Foxglove (Digitalis)*
- Hyacinth bulbs
- Holly berries
- Iris corms
- Jerusalem Cherry, Winter Cherry (Solanum pseudocarpum)
- Jimsonweed* (Datur stramonium, D. metaloides, D. arborea)
- Lily (bulbs of most species)
- Lily (Easter Lily, Tiger Lily)
- Lupine species
- Marijuana or hemp (Cannabis)
- Mistletoe berries*
- Morning Glory*
- Mostera, aka Split-Leaf Philodendron or Swiss Cheese Plant
- Mountain laurel
- Mushrooms & Toadstools (various)
- Narcissus, daffodil
- Nightshade (various species)
- Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans)
- Oak* (remove bark for use as a bird perch)
- Pear seeds
- Pencil cactus/plant* (Euphorbia sp.)
- Periwinkle (Vinca rosea)
- Peyote (Lophophora williamsii)
- Philodendron (all species)*
- Plum pit/seed
- Poinsettia (many hybrids, avoid them all)
- Poison Ivy
- Potato (leaves & stem, peelings, unripe green potatoes)
- Precatory Beans (Crabs Eye, Rosary Pea, Jequirity Bean)
- Rhubarb leaves*
- Rosary Pea (Arbus sp.) (can be fatal if chewed)
- Scheffelera (umbrella plant)*
- Shamrock (Oxalis sp.)*
- Skunk Cabbage
- Spurge (Euphorbia sp.)
- Tomatoes (leaves & stem, green tomatoes)
- Walnut hulls
- Water Arum
Other substances that are very harmful include (but are not limited to):
- Boric Acid (certain mixtures)
- Brake Fluids
- Carbon Monoxide Fumes
- Carburetor Fluid
- Cigarettes and other nicotine products and smoke
- Cleaning Fluids
- Crayons (dangerous for birds)
- Diet Pills
- Drain Cleaners
- Furniture Polish
- Hair Dyes (Temp & Perm)
- Laundry supplies & fabric softener
- Metal Polish
- Mineral Spirits
- Nail Polish / Nail Polish Remover
- Paint Remover
- Permanent Hair Solutions
- Photo Developer
- Rodent poison
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Rust (* birds)
- Shoe Polish
- Sleeping Pills
- Slug/Snail Bait
- Sugar Free foods (w/ Xylitol)
- Suntan Lotions
- Window Cleaners
- Wood preservatives and shellac
- Xylitol sweetener - diet drinks & chewing gums
If your pet if suffering from what appears to be a seizure, jump to our article on how to help pets with seizures.
What to Do If Your Pet Gets Hit By a Car or Other Major Injury
What do you do if your pet gets hit by a car or suffers some other major injury? Remain calm, don't panic, its essential to keep your pet calm and they look to you and your reactions to know how bad the situation really might be for them. Your pet might be in shock and already suffering from trauma related injuries. If possible, try to quickly assess what type of injuries may have occurred, and then call your vet (or 24 hour emergency vet clinic) and give them as much information as possible.
If your pet is bleeding profusely (apply a gauze bandage with gentle pressure over the wounded are where the blood is coming from. If injured seriously enough to need transport, try to gently pick them up and slide them onto a flat board, being very careful not to further injure them.. Be careful for your pet's reaction as they may try to bite you out of pain and or fear, a triggered reaction from the accident.
Get your pet to the emergency veterinary hospital or your regular vet very carefully (you might be tempted to speed but keep it safe) watch for bumps and pot holes as even tiny bumps can cause discomfort..
Don't feel bad if your pet is behaving strangely towards you. Your pet had just suffered a traumatic event, and their behavior may be a from the pain or a temporary reaction to the PTSD. We can help treat that if it doesn't resolve with vet treatment.
Pets Suffering Shock From an Accident
Many pets go into shock after being hit by a car or from other major accidents. If not treated properly and timely pets can pass very quickly from the symptoms of shock. Here are some of the symptoms of shock in pets that you need to look out for:
- Pale mucous membranes (inside of the gums, mouth, eyes, etc.)
- Quickly Developing Muscle Weakness
- Rapid Pulse Heart Rate — Dogs Normal Rate Cats Normal Rate
- Tangible loss of heat to the extremities, particularly the ears.
Remember if your pet gets hit by a car to make sure you look out for the possible signs of an injury or shock - even if there are no visible injuries. In most cases injuries will be visible and easy to tell, however even in a mild injury a dog can be injured internally - and needs to be closely watched. Any signs of shock get to the vet right away!
For days after the injury watch them closely for signs of bleeding:
- dark tarry stools,
- pale mucous membranes (gums) or
- fresh blood in her urine or stool.
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