In light of recent tornados, hurricanes and earthquakes, emergency personnel and pet owners are focusing on including pets in rescue efforts. Having a pet first aid plan can save your pet's life in the aftermath of a disaster. Read on to learn what your first aid kit and emergency plan should include.
In an amazing rescue that recently made headlines, a firefighter performed CPR on a dog that had been trapped inside a burning home. The dog had stopped breathing and the firefighter cupped his hands and blew into the dog's snout until its chest expanded. He then performed infant CPR-type chest compressions until the dog began breathing on its own.
The story was unusual because rescuing people usually takes priority in an emergency situation. But emergency personnel and pet owners are focusing more on including pets in rescue efforts. Creating pet first aid plans can help prepare owners to deal with a pet health emergency.
A good first aid plan can begin with simply keeping the phone number and address of an after-hours veterinary clinic handy. Keeping directions to the clinic close by will also help when rushing a sick pet out the door to get care. If possible, call ahead before leaving.
Fire departments now have pet-sized smoke inhalation masks and the American Red Cross teaches classes in pet first aid. According to the American Red Cross website, pet first aid reference guides teach owners how to administer medications, recognize an emergency, perform CPR and first aid, and treat common problems and emergencies requiring immediate attention.
Pet first aid kits can be purchased at Red Cross locations in Connecticut, New York, Oklahoma, Texas and San Francisco. A homemade kit can include basic supplies such as gauze pads, rolls and bandages, thermometer, tweezers, hydrogen peroxide, antibiotic ointment, Q-tips, instant cold pack and rags/rubber tubing for a tourniquet.
Paying attention to what is normal for your pet can help curtail problems early on. The normal resting pulse and heart rates for cats is 150-200 beats per minute (bpm), for small to large dogs, it ranges from 60-120 bpm. A pulse in dogs can be located near the inner hind legs. Counting the number of pulses in 15 seconds and multiplying that by four will give the bpm. Normal temperature for dogs and cats is between 100 and 102.5 degrees.
Signs that something is wrong with your pet include blood, diarrhea or black, tarry stool. Symptoms of shock include a weak pulse, shallow breathing, nervousness and a dazed appearance. Bleeding from the mouth, rectum or blood in the urine may be a sign of internal bleeding and immediate veterinary care is required.
If your pet gets injured, handle them cautiously and quietly. When in pain, even the most loving pets are more likely to bite or scratch. Try to restrain the pet with a muzzle to prevent further injury to both the pet and the owner. Do not use a muzzle if the pet is having difficulty breathing or is injured around the nose or mouth. Towels and blankets can be used to subdue cats or small dogs if a muzzle is not available. Keeping the pet restrained, quiet and warm will help until veterinary care can be obtained.
The Humane Society recommends using caution to approach a sick or injured pet, and to pay close attention to its body expressions and sounds to help determine the cause and location of an injury. Do not make quick, loud or jerky movements. Just as with children, remaining calm will help keep an injured animal from becoming even more agitated and scared.
Pet owners who educate themselves with the kind of first aid resources available at the Red Cross, local humane societies and the veterinarian's office, will be more prepared when a pet health emergency arises and can even help save a pet's life or reduce the long-term impact of injury.