“One of the best ways to begin educating yourself and your family about how to handle a pet health emergency is to take a pet first aid class,” says Dr. Jules Benson, VP of Veterinary Services at Petplan. “Courses are offered through the American Red Cross and many local animal shelters, but you can also find information and instructional videos online to help you learn the basics. Knowing a few simple techniques, as well as which common human medications or foods are toxic, can be a huge help when every second counts.”
In addition to signing up for a pet first aid class, there are a few simple things pet parents can do at home to ensure they are prepared in an emergency.
The Whole Kit and Kaboodle
Every household with pets should have a pet first aid kit that includes basic medical supplies like gauze, hydrogen peroxide, a medicine dropper and bandages. Besides supplies, stock your kit with essentials like your pet’s vaccination records and medical history, pet insurance information and a recent photo. For a full list of what to include, check out Petplan’s “Pet 911” post on the Vets for Pets blog.
Spot the Signs
For some of the most common pet health conundrums, learn how to spot warning signs and how best to take action:
- Poisoning: If your pet is lethargic or experiencing vomiting or diarrhea, she may have eaten something toxic. Try to identify what your pet ate, and how much and call your vet. Keep your first aid kit nearby in case you’re directed to give your pet something to counteract the toxin. Do not induce vomiting unless directed – some chemicals can cause more harm if they're brought back up. Get your pet to an emergency vet as soon as possible.
- Seizures: Seizing pets might twitch and shake, foam at the mouth and/or vomit. Try to remain calm and clear away anything that could injure them, such as furniture. Do not try to hold your pet still, as they could inadvertently kick or scratch you. Try to track how long the seizure lasts, and keep your pet quiet once it’s ended. Call your vet as soon as your pet is calm.
- Bleeding: If you spot an open wound, don’t worry about examining it – focus on using clean, dry cloths to apply direct pressure to stop the bleeding. Do not wrap it tightly, but loosely tape a bandage over it as you transport your pet to the vet. If the bleeding is from a severe injury, such as a fracture, support the injury gently and get your pet to the veterinarian.
To learn more about protecting pets in emergencies and every day, visit http://www.GoPetplan.com.