First Aid is not what happens when the animal arrives at a vet clinic - it is what happens when you least expect it, are the least prepared, and do not have time to read a text book. What can you do right there, right then, in the light of the headlights; at the park or when you smash a car window and pull out a pet that is overheating.
Whatever the situation, always keep yourself safe and look out for any danger to yourselves or other people.The most important thing is that there are some techniques to practice, and that you might need to improvise to make muzzles, stretchers and bandages. Remember - injured dogs can be scared and sore - they can bite.. protect yourself.
In any emergency - once we have made the scene safe, we always check the ABC's:
A - Airways - can they breathe - is there an obstuction! Are they breathing?
B - Bleeding - is there a lot of blood loss - is it spurting out or just oozing?
C- Circulation - is there a pulse or heartbeat?
To help you learn what to do, a good human first aid course is very useful. The techniques are similar, and help people to be aware of the essential skills they need, for all species. Most vets are trained in human first aid - we just have to be reminded to actually talk and explain things to our patients, not just pat them!
I can strongly recommend you visit The Pet Hub - as they produce first aid kits. If you check there it will give you a list of the major things you should keep in stock! Yes - you can make up your own - but as we tend to be lazy, sometimes buying a comprehensive kit is easier than gathering all the small bits and pieces up, particularly when the emergency has already occurred.
We consider that pet first aid also needs to cover fractures, bee stings and burns so it helps to know what to do. To help, you can also order a first aid guide through this site - great way to read up on potential emergency situations.
- Blood loss;
- Diabetic coma;
- Electric shock;
- Heart failure;
- Smoke inhalation.
We also give all our students a copy of the file about Dog and Cat CPR: It is a file you can download for free and, when printed, it makes a readily portable 3-fold brochure that you can keep in the car or handy at home.
Another site I sometimes check out covers a range of first aid incidents and some photos to help you.
FIRST AID FOR PETS - Written and illustrated by Dr. Fiona Anderson
Hope this encourages you to look further into how you can help your pet.