Thom Somes, the “Pet Safety Guy,” noted the top five situations on the Pet Sitters International (PSI) website.
“Knowing the skills and techniques of pet first aid can mean the difference between life and death, temporary and permanent disability, and expensive veterinarian bills and reasonable home care,” Somes wrote. “According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), one out of four pets could be saved if just one basic pet first-aid skill or technique was applied prior to receiving veterinary care.”
To be better prepared for emergencies, you should keep a well-stocked pet first-aid kit in your home. It’s also a good idea to attend a pet first-aid class, which may be offered by your local adult school, pet store or Red Cross chapter.
1. Open Wounds
These injuries include cuts, bites, abrasions and lacerations.
“First-aid actions include muzzling, restraint, controlling bleeding and treating for shock,” Somes wrote. “Depending on the severity of the injury, the pet may need veterinary care, including stitches and medication to treat possible infection. X-rays could be warranted if any sudden blunt trauma was involved.”
“Dogs are at greater risk of choking than cats,” Somes noted. “Cats don’t usually choke because they are such finicky eaters.” The most common objects dogs choke on are handballs, tennis balls, chew toys and rawhides.
“The pet industry is bigger than the human toy industry, but less regulated,” he wrote. “Therefore, it is important to choose a toy that can stand up to the strong jaws and sharp teeth of our pets.”
If your dog is coughing or gagging, Somes recommends contacting your local animal emergency hospital and monitoring your dog to see if manages to force out the object.
If your dog is unable to cough or gag, or you can hear a whistling sound (called stridor) coming from his throat, you need to perform a type of Heimlich maneuver for pets. Somes recommends chest thrusts to force the object out, “much like a bellows for a fireplace.”
More information: HOW TO Stop Your Dog From Choking
3. Heat Stroke
Dogs can suffer heat stroke if they are left in a car without proper ventilation. Hot weather and an inadequate water supply can also be factors. Short-nosed breeds such as Pugs, Boxers and Bulldogs are more prone to heat issues.
“Signs of heat stroke include uncontrollable panting, foaming at the mouth, rapid heart rate, vomiting, lethargy, the tongue initially bright red and a capillary refill rate longer than two seconds,” Somes wrote. “Actions for survival include restraining and muzzling, bathing or hosing down with cool water, treating for shock, monitoring the temperature, contacting a veterinarian and transporting the pet to the nearest pet emergency hospital.”
More information: HOW TO Keep Your Dog Safe in the Heat
4. Allergic Reaction to an Insect Bite or Sting
Dogs can be bitten or stung by ants, bees, hornets, wasps and spiders, often while sniffing out their colonies or holes in the ground where they reside.
Since you may not witness the actual bite or sting, Somes noted that if your dog is constantly licking and scratching, you should check for “localized swelling, redness and pain at the injury site.”
Before this ever happens, Somes recommends that you ask your vet about the proper dosage of antihistamine should your dog have an allergic reaction to an insect bite. You should write that dosage on the antihistamine box and keep it in your pet first aid kit.
“To administer, just poke a hole in the gel cap and squeeze it into the pet’s mouth,” Somes wrote.
In addition to giving your dog an antihistamine, Somes recommends keeping him calm and immobilized so the toxin doesn’t spread farther in his body.
5. Snake Bite
“Snake bites are very dirty wounds,” Somes wrote. “Regardless of whether the bite is poisonous or non-poisonous, the pet needs wound care and antibiotic treatment.”
Symptoms that your dog was bitten by a snake include “one or two puncture wounds, pain, swelling and bruising,” according to Somes. “If the snake is poisonous, then immediate actions for survival include restraint, muzzling, treatment for shock and transportation to the nearest animal hospital that has antivenin.”
If there are snakes where you live, Somes recommends asking your vet about treatments with antivenin.
More information: HOW TO Treat Your Dog After a Snake Bite
PHOTO: Thirteen of Clubs