2017-04-21 / On Second Thought

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After reading about pet sitters, I am interested in knowing about first aid supplies I should have on hand for the caretaker and what pet first aid tips I should know and share.
Compiled by Warren Hughes

Just like their owners, pets need their own first aid kits, and Petplan Insurance provides some excellent advice on what you need for them.

In a recent publication, Petplan says you should have two first aid kits, one for home and one for your car. Each should include gauze, vet wrap, Vaseline, clean cloth, tweezers, an ice pack, and a digital thermometer.

If your pet is injured, be careful in handling them, because even the most docile ones may become aggressive when frightened. A restraint may be needed.

Petplan also provides tips for those emergency situations. Keep this information readily available. For minor wounds, Petplan advises: swab the cut with Vaseline, then trim any hair around it; cleanse the wound with soap and water; dry the wound and cover with a non-stick pad; bandage with gauze and vet wrap.

For major wounds or bleeding, apply direct pressure to the wound with the clean cloth; elevate the bleeding area above your pet’s heart (you can use a pillow to prop up a limb); use a tourniquet only as a last resort to save a pet’s life; get to a vet as quickly as possible.

For stings and insect bites: remove the stinger with tweezers or by scraping it with the edge of a credit card; apply an ice pack to the site; watch for an allergic reaction (hives and facial swelling are common) as some pets may go into anaphylactic shock, requiring immediate emergency care. A half of an adult antihistamine tablet like Benadryl can be given before getting to a veterinarian.

For hyperthermia (heat stroke) move to a shaded or air-conditioned area and turn on a fan to circulate cool air; take your pet’s rectal temperature for a baseline reading (normal is 101.5-102.5 degrees); wet the pet’s ear flaps and apply wet cloths (lukewarm, not cold) to your pet’s neck, belly, and groin; and get to the vet as soon as possible.

For hypothermia: move to a warm area and cover the pet with warm water bottles, blankets, or towels (heating pads can burn your pet, so put several layers between your pet and an electric heat source, and always set electric heat sources to low). And as in other threatening conditions, get veterinary care as soon as possible.

If your pet is bleeding, use the clean cloths, towels and/or gauze (depending on the severity of the bleeding) in your emergency kit to apply direct pressure, and adhesive tape to hold the temporary bandage in place while you get to the vet. Don’t tape too tightly to avoid cutting off circulation. Just try to control the bleeding. Your vet will be able to sedate/anesthetize your pet and explore the damage in a controlled and clean environment with the proper instruments to handle whatever situation they find.

If your pet has gotten into a toxic substance, grab the packaging from the product and call your veterinarian or the Poison Control Hotline at 888-426-4435 (there may be a charge for this phone call, but it’s worth the information). They will be able to guide you on the best course of action. Make sure you have your first aid kit nearby: you may be directed to give your pet something to counteract the toxin.

Finally, if a pet is having a seizure, handle the pet with care as a seizing animals can unintentionally hurt you. Try to make sure your pet is in a safe place by clearing anything that could injure him if he hits it, and try to track how long the seizure lasts.

Call your vet or an emergency vet for advice on the next steps. And remember, prevention is the best approach of all. Keep the first aid kit up to date. Make sure your pet’s vaccine and medication lists are current, and take that information to the veterinarian.

We want to add to the community’s storehouse of knowledge, whether it is a neighborhood matter, a larger issue or a simple curiosity. We’ll do the footwork for you. Submit your questions to mimim@thecolumbiastar.com or pams@thecolumbiastar.com.

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