April is Pet First Aid Awareness Month, and that means it’s the perfect time for owners to brush up on basic first aid knowledge to keep their pets happy and healthy.
In honor of the month, here are three tips to help you take care of your pet in an emergency. Because at the end of the day, you’d rather have your best friend than pet sympathy cards.
1. Prevention is the Best Medicine
The best medicine is prevention. After all, if your pet is safe and healthy, you won’t need to worry about so many trips to the vet.
While you can’t predict accidents, you can reduce the risk of them. As much as possible, keep human foods, plants, and medicines away from your pets.
Items that could pose a health risk for dogs include:
- Grapes and raisins
- Onions and garlic
- Dairy products
- Human medications
Contact your veterinarian to discuss your questions and concerns.
Items that could pose a health risk for cats include:
- Human medications (vitamins, pain relievers, cold medicine, antidepressants, diet pills, etc.)
- Caffeine (coffee, tea, soda)
- Grapes and raisins
- Garlic and onions
Cats can also be poisoned by certain household plants, such as lilies, chrysanthemums, hyacinths, mistletoe, poinsettia, tulips, azaleas, and aloe. Azaleas, daffodils, tulips, and oleander are also poisonous to dogs. When you plant your garden, choose your plants with care—no plant is worth a loss of dog card. Contact your veterinarian to discuss your questions and concerns.
You should also try to keep your pets out of potentially harmful situations. Dogs should be on a leash when they’re not in a fenced yard so that they don’t run into the road or other dogs, and cats should be kept indoors to avoid confrontations with neighborhood dogs.
2. Know Your Basic First Aid Procedures
That said, prevention won’t stop every emergency, so pet owners should know what to do if their pet does get hurt.
If your pet has been poisoned, call the Animal Poison Control Center hotline immediately. Be ready to tell your pet’s species, breed, age, and symptoms, as well as the length of exposure and the poison in question.
If your pet is injured, muzzle them first. If they have a fracture, lay them on a firm, flat surface to transport to the veterinarian. You can try to splint the injury yourself, but a badly done splint can do more harm than good, so it’s best to leave dressing and splinting to the vet.
If your pet is bleeding, use clean, thick gauze to gently apply pressure to the wound until blood begins to clot. Hold pressure for a minimum of three minutes before checking. Then, wrap the wound and take your pet to the vet immediately.
3. Comforting an Injured Pet
When your pet is injured, your first instinct is to comfort them the way you would a human—by holding them close and reassuring them.
Unfortunately, this won’t do much to reassure your pet. If anything, this will make matters worse.
When your pet is injured, they’re in pain and afraid. And that means even the sweetest, gentlest dog or cat in the world will get anxious and defensive when someone gets in their space. They may try to lash out to protect themselves.
Keep your face away from your pet’s mouth, and put a muzzle on if you have to (but only if it won’t hurt your pet further, and if they’re not vomiting). When you examine them, make sure to do so slowly and gently. If they become more agitated, stop immediately. You don’t want them to hurt themselves further.
If your pet asks for cuddling, then give it to them, but be careful not to jostle them. Otherwise, your best bet to comfort your pet is to talk to them.
Preparation Keeps Your Pet Happy and Healthy
By preparing for possible emergencies before they can occur, you can help keep your pet safe from the worst-case scenario.
But if a loved one lost a beloved dog or cat, make sure to send them dog sympathy cards or a loss of pet card to show that you’re thinking of them. You can’t protect your pet from every possible event, but you can be there for your loved ones in their time of grief.
And when you purchase a card, your donation helps further the work of the Christian Veterinary Mission so that animals all over the world can be safe, happy, and healthy.
Disclaimer: this post is not intended to encourage treatment or diagnosis of any animal medical condition. For medical advice, contact your veterinarian