When a friend or significant other gets hurt we generally have a good idea of how to take care of them, but what do you do when your pet is in an accident? Unfortunately, most pet owners do not prepare themselves for these tragic incidents until it is too late.
"It is absolutely necessary to know if your veterinarian has an after hour emergency service and if not, who they recommend calling in case of an emergency," said Dr. Mark Stickney, clinical associate professor at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. "It is also imperative that you can call your veterinarian for advice on what to do to help your pet until you can get it to a clinic."
Two common emergency situations that pet owners should be equipped for are poisoning and trauma.
"If you suspect that your pet has eaten something toxic, contact your veterinarian. They may tell you to make it vomit by feeding it hydrogen peroxide," states Stickney. "While hydrogen peroxide is generally harmless, there are some poisons that will actually make things worse if the pet vomits so it is important that you contact your veterinarian first. Having a bottle of hydrogen peroxide in the medicine cabinet before you need it is a good idea.”
As temperatures begin to rise, snake bites become more and more common with pets. If you think your pet has been bitten by a snake, stay calm and take it to the vet right away. Do not use a tourniquet on the animal, as this will limit the blood flow to the area causing more harm than good.
"The area where the pet was bitten will swell up very quickly," said Stickney. "Just because there is no visible puncture wound does not mean that your pet did not get bitten. If you are able to kill the snake, then take it to the veterinarian with you. If they can identify it they will have a better idea of how harmful the bite is."
Traumatic events such as getting hit by a car, bike, or other vehicle, are sadly not uncommon for pet dogs and cats. While the animal might look okay, it is a good idea to have it checked out by a veterinarian anyway.
"Trauma can be very deceiving. What appears to be a minor injury on the outside may hide a lot of damaged tissue on the inside," said Stickney.
The first thing to do if your pet has been injured and is bleeding is to put pressure on the area to slow blood flow. Wounded pets may bite from pain, fear, or confusion so it is good to have a muzzle to use in this type of situation.
"Your pet might be your best friend, but when dogs are hurt they may not remember that," said Stickney. "If you have a big dog, I would also recommend that you have a dog stretcher. They make it much easier to move large injured animals."
Less severe accidents such as minor cuts and scrapes are common and can be handled much like you would treat yourself.
"Make sure that the cut is as clean as possible," said Stickney. "I would not recommend putting antibiotic cream anywhere your pet can lick it off as this just causes more germs to get in the wound. If the cut is on an area they can't lick than something like Neosporin will be fine. Elizabethan collars are useful for preventing a pet from gaining access to an injury."
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University.