Dr. Julie Damron

5 minutes reading time (1031 words)

What to do in a pet emergency

In my last column, I discussed several things that you can do to help avoid or minimize an emergency situation for your cherished companion. If you missed this column, you can find it {ln:Preventing Pet Emergencies 'here on our website}.

This column is part 2 on pet emergencies, and will highlight what to do when a problem occurs. The actions you take in the first few minutes to hours can prevent serious illness, and even potentially save the life of your cherished companion.

A medical emergency is an acute injury or illness that poses a risk to your buddy’s life or long term health. Unfortunately in animals it is not always readily apparent that there is a significant problem. Animals instinctively hide problems as a part of protecting themselves in the wild. Cats are very good at this. As a pet owner, you face the challenge of your dog or cat not being able to tell you what is wrong, when, or how it happened. This is where knowing what is normal for your companion, and checking vitals can really help you. I encourage you to frequently look at your pet’s mouth to check the gum color, feel his or her body for a heart rate, and know how to check his/her temperature. Your veterinarian can help you learn how to check these things. Please see the vitals chart. Identifying problems and addressing them at the earliest stage possible leads to a better outcome.

Once you realize there is a problem, you have to decide is your pet stable for travel.

Is your companion conscious? If not, Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation in animals uses the same tenants as CPR in people-ABC or CAB (Airway, Breathing, and Circulation).

Check the airway first to see if it is clear and open by pulling the tongue forward. Remove any debris if you can do this safely. Tilt your buddy’s head back and lift the chin up to open the airway. If your pet is choking, you can perform the Heimlich maneuver. 5 bear hugs can be given in the abdomen. Check the airway again to see if an object or debris has been coughed up.

Is your pet breathing? If not you can do rescue breathing for your companion, about 20 breaths per minute. Wrap your hands around your pet’s muzzle, close the mouth, and breathe into his/her nose. Also check to see if the breathing is normal? Is there a more rapid rate of respiration, or difficulty with breathing?

Check for circulation by feeling for a pulse at the heart/chest or inner thigh. You can also check gum color; non-pigmented skin should be a bubble gum pink. When you press on the gums, the skin turns white. When you lift your finger, the skin should return to pink within 2 seconds. If the gums are a blue, white, or a deep read, this abnormal. If circulation is poor, chest compressions can also be done, ideally 80-100 per minute. If possible one person should continue rescue maneuvers while a second person is driving.

Problems with mobility are very common. It can also make it difficult or painful for your buddy to travel to your vet. Here are some simple things that you can do to ease transport. The first thing to remember is that your companion may be in a lot of pain. This means that he or she may try to bite you. A tie, rope, or a pair of pantyhose makes a great muzzle. Simply wrap the material once around your buddy’s muzzle tying a knot on the top, make another loop and tie it below the chin, and then wrap the material behind your pets head and make a third knot. If your pet has a possible fractured leg, you can use newspaper and duct tape to secure the limb and keep it from moving. If you think that your dog or cat has a broken back, you can tape him or her to a board. A beach towel or blanket can make a great gurney.

Poisons are also a common issue. Besides pest control items, there are severe items in your house that you may not realize can cause a problem for your companions. Cleaning products can be harmful. Many house plants can be toxic to animals. Please see www.aspca.org for a complete list with pictures. Many human medications can be toxic to dogs and cats. Even gardening supplies including some fertilizers can cause serious health problems for pets.

I do not recommend for pet owners to induce vomiting at home. This can be very difficult to do, is unsuccessful most of the time, and can cost valuable time. Depending on what toxin has been ingested, vomiting may not even be recommended. Your veterinarian is the best person to administer care in this situation. He or she may also recommend a consultation with poison control. Blood work will also most likely be suggested depending on the status of your companion and what item was consumed.

Skin traumas including punctures, bite wounds, and impalements are seen frequently. These injuries may appear as very simple problems in the beginning; but they can progress to significant infections if they are not treated correctly. I recommend that all wounds be evaluated by a veterinarian. The majority of the time wound flushing and topical antibiotics are not enough to prevent an abscess or significant infection. Many of these injuries are deeper than they appear and may need a drain(s). Pain control is often warranted. Clipping and cleaning the area also promotes better healing.

Remember to call your veterinarian ahead of time, so he/she is prepared to help your buddy as soon as possible. I encourage all pet owners to consider pet insurance because it can be very helpful for both preventative medicine and emergency treatment. VPI at www.petinsurance.com is the one I recommend. Care Credit www.carecredit.com can also be a great help with emergencies. Please keep in mind that treating problems in the early stages can not only be lifesaving for your cherished companion; but in most cases is much less expensive because the illness is not as advanced and there are fewer secondary complications.

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Preventing Pet Emergencies
 

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Tuesday, 23 July 2019