In honor of Pet First Aid Awareness Month, we have a few tips to help you and your pet have a safe and healthy spring.
Know the signs
Heavy and excessive panting, a bright red tongue, elevated heart rate, difficulty breathing, inability to get up, and sometimes vomiting–these are all signs of heat stroke. Heat stroke can quickly lead to seizures, coma, and death if not treated promptly so it’s critical to act quickly. The cooling spray from a garden hose or a cool compress applied gently to their paws and underside can bring rapidly bring their temperature down. Call your vet immediately anytime you suspect heat stroke and continue cooling your pet until you reach their office.
Plants, chemicals, medications, certain foods, and artificial sweeteners are just a few of the things that can be toxic to your pet. If you suspect your pet has eaten something poisonous, contact your vet or emergency animal care hospital for immediate medical care. Be sure to bring the suspected item with you so your vet can quickly identify what your pet is reacting to and treat it accordingly.
Frantic mouth pawing, coughing, or breathing distress can indicate that your pet is choking and requires immediate attention. If you can see an object lodged in your pet’s mouth, carefully try to remove it with your fingers or tweezers, being cautious not to push the item deeper into their throat. If your attempt to dislodge the item is unsuccessful, position your pet properly and perform the Heimlich maneuver. If your pet is unconscious, you may need to perform CPR.
Create a “go bag” to bring with you on every outing with your pet. Stock it with a portable water container, emergency food supplies, your vet’s contact information, a copy of your pet’s vaccination and health records, any daily medications prescribed for your pet, and first aid supplies. Visit the American Red Cross for a downloadable pet first aid supply list.
Keep current on all routine wellness checks and vaccinations and communicate regularly with your vet on any pet health concerns that arise. Use a leash whenever you’re in a public place to eliminate the risk of accidents or aggressive attacks from another dog. Check your pet’s collar regularly to ensure a proper fit and perform routine inspections of your home to make sure that all hazards are out of reach. Lastly, create an emergency action plan for you and your pet and practice what you would do in the event of a tornado, fire, flood, or evacuation. Going through these steps in a drill will make an emergency less stressful for you both.
The Arizona Animal Welfare League and the American Red Cross offer special dog and cat first aid courses to help you respond quickly and competently in an emergency. From how to handle choking and basic first aid treatments to proper CPR techniques, these classes can mean the difference between life and death for your pet. Visit https://aawl.org/pet-cpr-first-aid or www.redcross.org/training to find a class near you.