April is National First Aid for Pets Awareness Month. First aid skills are important not only for helping humans who may be in having a health emergency, but also for pets. Would you know what to do in case of an emergency with your pet?
1. Have a list of emergency numbers posted near your home phone as well as listed in your cell phone – include your regular veterinarian, the poison control center, plus the nearest 24-hour emergency vet clinic (handy for after hours). If your pet is microchipped (and it should be) be sure to record the number as well.
National Animal Poison Control Center: 888.426.4435
Pet Poison Helpline: 800.213.6680
Note: A call to a Poison Control Center may incur a fee, however, it could save your pet’s life in case of accidental or deliberate poisoning.
2. Put together a Pet First Aid Kit. Every home should have a First Aid Kit, and that includes one for pets. Basic kits are available online and through some veterinary offices, but with a little guidance from your vet, you can easily put together your own. Since emergencies are not always health related, it’s smart to also include vital phone numbers, pertinent health records, plus any pet-specific information like a current photo, feeding instructions and copies of your pet’s registration and microchip numbers.
3. Get the app! The American Red Cross offers a free Pet First Aid app for smartphones. Owners have access to step-by-step instructions, videos and images for more than 25 common first aid emergencies. In the interest of being prepared, it might be a good idea to download the one for people, too! Text “GETPET” to 90999.
Visit the Apple App store (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pet-first-aid-by-american/id780415389?mt=8) Or Google Play Store (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.cube.arc.pfa).
4. Take a class! Artificial Respiration and Pet CPR are two vital first aid skills every pet parent should have. YouTube has a wealth of video training, and The American Red Cross and many other organizations offer training and certification classes for Pet CPR. Simply search for “Pet CPR classes” plus your city to find a range of resources, online and off.
5. Know when to seek emergency veterinary treatment for your pet.
The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) emergency list:
- Severe bleeding or bleeding that doesn’t stop within 5 minutes
- Choking, difficulty breathing or nonstop coughing and gagging
- Bleeding from nose, mouth, rectum, coughing up blood, or blood in urine
- Inability to urinate or pass feces (stool), or obvious pain associated with urinating or passing stool
- Injuries to your pet’s eye(s)
- You suspect or know your pet has eaten something poisonous (such as antifreeze, xylitol, chocolate, rodent poison, etc.)
- Seizures and/or staggering
- Fractured bones, severe lameness or inability to move leg(s)
- Obvious signs of pain or extreme anxiety=
- Heat stress or heatstroke
- Severe vomiting or diarrhea – more than 2 episodes in a 24-hour period, or either of these combined with obvious illness or any of the other problems listed here
- Refusal to drink for 24 hours or more