Knowing how to identify a potential emergency and what to do in an actual emergency situation can help you stay calmer and provide help to your pet until you can reach a veterinary hospital.
The American Red Cross offers some common emergency tips:
To determine if your cat or dog is dehydrated: pull up on the skin between the shoulder blades. It should spring right back; if it stays tented this is a sign of dehydration.
Signs of pet poisoning: these include bleeding externally or internally, dilated pupils, drooling or foaming at the mouth, seizures or other abnormal mental state or behavior.
If your pet has a seizure: make sure it is in a safe place, but do not restrain the animal. Keep your hands away from its mouth as your pet may not know who you are during a seizure and could bite you.
Signs of heat stroke or heat exhaustion: these include collapse; body temperature of 104 degrees F or above; bloody diarrhea or vomiting; wobbliness; excessive panting or difficulty breathing; increase heart rate; mucous membranes very red; and increased salivation.
Your pet has been bitten by another animal: Seek vet attention to prevent the wound (even if minor) from becoming infected and to check for internal wounds. Never try to break up a dogfight yourself because you could be bitten.
If your pet is bleeding: apply direct pressure using gauze over the bleeding site. If blood soaks through, apply more gauze (do not removed soaked gauze) until you can reach a veterinary hospital.
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.