April: National Pet First Aid Awareness Month
It is well said that you should always keep your first aid kit stocked and handy, just in case. And probably, you may have never neglected to pack your first aid kit while packing for a hike, camping trip, or other outings. But did you know that your pets are at a far greater risk of experiencing an emergency than you do and therefore, the same goes true for our furry friends too.
April is marked as the National Pet First Aid Awareness Month by the American Red Cross Society and we couldn’t find a better time to raise awareness about this vital topic, hence, here’s all you need to learn about your pet’s first aid:
Pet First Aid is crucial: Why?
Our four-legged companion’s mischievous and curious nature and their natural instincts keep them surrounded by risks and dangers all the time. If any such unthinkable happens, it can put your pet in a life and death situation if you don’t know about the basic first-aid. Of course, taking them to a veterinarian is an ideal option in such situations. But sometimes, the veterinarian may be too far to save your pet’s life or consider if you are on a hiking or a boating trip where the veterinarian is not available. Then what?
Under such circumstances, your pets count on you, and therefore, you need to ensure their safety to an extent that you can save them without any professional help. To be able to do so, you must learn the basics of pet first aid, including setting up a first aid kit, basic emergency procedures like CPR, and learning about the potential hazards.
You can assemble a first-aid kit according to your preferences or you can purchase the one already available in the market. Below enlisted is a checklist for a good first-aid kit:
- Disposable gloves
- Digital Thermometer
- Cotton swabs/balls
- Adhesive tape
- Blunt scissors
- Absorbent gauze pads
- Antiseptic wipes
- Ice packs
- OTC antibiotic ointments- to be applied on wounds
- OTC antihistamines- to reduce allergic reactions
- OTC Anxiety relievers- like Anxitane or Adaptil
- Hydrogen Peroxide- to be used for inducing vomiting as directed by vet or poison control in case of poisoning
- Electrolyte- to be given in case of dehydration
- Saline eye solution
- Styptic powder
Make sure to replace any expired items with the new ones on a regular basis. Furthermore, an ideal first aid kit should also include a first-aid book, a copy of pet’s medical records, and contact information of your veterinarian and emergency care centers.
Basic Emergency Procedures like ‘CPR’ can save a Pet’s Life
You can save a pet’s life if you know simple emergency procedures like CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation). This can help when a pet suddenly stops breathing or falls unconscious and a vet is not accessible. It is as simple as mentioned below:
- Check the ABC:
If ABC (A-Airway, B-Breathing, and C-Circulation) of a pet is compromised and its chest is not moving, one can begin the CPR.
- Clear the airway:
If you find that a pet is not breathing, see if a foreign object has obstructed the breathing passage. Check if it has choked on a piece of plastic or something. If so, you may need to clear this very carefully.
- Rescue breathing:
Close the animal’s mouth and perform rescue breathing by directly breathing into its nose such that its chest rises. Repeat this procedure 15-20 times per minute.
- Chest compressions:
Place the heel of your hand on your pet’s heart (on the left side where the animal’s elbow meets the chest) and place the other hand over it. Now press firmly and quickly for up to 100-120 times per minute. Check for the heartbeats every two minutes. You may also alternate rescue breathing and chest compressions until the pet resumes breathing or you reach the hospital.
CPR procedure is very easy to perform, but since it is a critical procedure it is better if you ask your vet to give demonstrations for the same. You can also refer to the video tutorials of CPR on YouTube.
Beware of the potential hazards
Prevention of threats is way better than first-aid and therefore, it is essential to be aware of the potential hazards that may pose a risk to your pets. While you can’t always be around and prevent dangers, the least you can do is minimize such hazards. Identify all the objects and products that could cause injuries, choking, or poisoning. Even that box of chocolates can be potentially toxic to them, so make sure to keep it out of reach of your pet.
Chocolates, Xylitol, Apples, Rat poisons,Salt,Sugar, Grapes, Raisins, Fertilizers, etc.
Lilies, Rodenticides, Paints, Topical flea and tick treatment for dogs, House cleaners, Onion, Garlic, Essential oils, etc.
Keep your calm when an emergency occurs
If any unthinkable scenarios happen, do not panic as it will only exacerbate the situation. Moreover, panicking may not help you to make rational and sound decisions in a rush. Stay calm and consider a few things you can do to help your pet stay safe in case of an emergency as mentioned below:
- Act immediately, but stay calm
- Call the pet emergency numbers/vet immediately
- Check for vital functions like heartbeat, breathing, etc.
- If a pet has choked on something, try to clear the airway for breathing
- Start emergency lifesaving procedures like CPR if required
- If a pet is bleeding, compress the bleeding by covering the cuts/wound
- Perform basic first aid as directed by the vet
- Rush to the nearest vet clinic as soon as possible
Always remember, accidents happen and that’s inevitable. But knowing what to do when your pet is injured and how to avoid such injuries can help your pet stay happier and safer.
We believe that everyone, whether they have a pet or not should be aware of the basic pet first aid. If you are aware of what to do in such critical circumstances, you can save your pet’s life. Similarly, someone with a basic knowledge of first aid can save your pet’s life someday if you are not around. Therefore, in the honor of this National Pet First aid awareness month, please share this article with your friends and family and help us spread the word. Thank you in advance!