Pet First Aid - Part 2
by Leonard Rego
In Part One of Pet First Aid, we looked at how being prepared for some medical emergencies might help you save your pet, and this week, we continue with the same topic. Knowing what to do is important, and can even make the difference between losing your pooch or canary, and helping it live to a ripe old age. Above all, be gentle!
It's a chance for you to play doctor for real (well, almost)! Here's what to do if the following occur:
Diarrhoea (pronounced die-uh-ree-uh)
Yep, it's the loosies alright, and animals get them just like we do. The best thing to do would be to keep food away for 12 - 24 hours, but not water. If your animal appears to be straining, it might just be because of diarrhoea and not constipation. The vet's the best person to ask, of course, and he or she will also tell you what to do.
How will you know? Your pet will be in pain, might not be able to use a limb, or its limb might be at an odd angle. The first two symptoms might also indicate a sprain, so muzzle your pet and look for signs of bleeding to check if it is indeed a fracture. If you can control the bleeding without causing too much pain or more injury, do so, but watch for signs of shock, such as dilated pupils (a wide-eyed look).
Don't ever try and set the fracture right by pulling or tugging at the limb; instead, get your pet to the vet as soon as you can, while supporting the injured part in the best way possible.
If your pet is breathing labouredly (very heavily), vomiting, has a high body temperature or collapses on a particularly hot day, chances are it's experiencing a heatstroke. Gradually place the animal in a tub of cool water - not cold, as that might shock it - and let it rest there for a while. You could also soak the animal gently with a garden hose or wrap it in a cool, wet towel, but be careful not to overdo it.
If you have a thermometer and are not squeamish about inserting it into your pet's behind, do it - it will show you when it is 103 degrees Fahrenheit, which is when you should stop trying to cool your pet any further. As in any emergency, call your vet.
Vomiting, convulsions, diarrhoea, excessive salivation (drooling), weakness, depression and even pain could be caused by poisoning. Look around for medicines or poisonous substances that your pet might have eaten or drunk, and if possible, try and determine what it might have ingested, and how much. Immediately call the vet or poison control centre, and do not try to get it to vomit.
If its skin or fur has toxins or chemicals from oils, paints, insecticides or other such substances, check for directions on how to wash them off safely.
When an animal has a seizure, it might drool excessively, lose control of pooping or peeing, twitch violently, or even lose consciousness.
If this happens, move the pet away from objects that could hurt it when it has a seizure, and use a blanket or padding for protection, but don't hold the animal down. Instead, time the seizure: they usually last only 2 - 3 minutes. After the seizure, try and keep the animal calm and quiet, and call the vet promptly.
A pet that has experienced shock will have dilated pupils (that wide-eyed look). This can happen when it has been seriously injured in a fight or accident, or even when it is very frightened. Keep the animal restrained gently, while making the surroundings as quiet as possible. Also keep it warm and elevate its lower body. Next, call the vet.
If you pet is vomiting and you do not suspect poisoning, do not feed it for 12 - 24 hours, but instead, give it ice cubes for two hours after the vomiting stops, and then slowly increase the amount of water and food given over the next 24 hours. Call Dr. Dolittle.
- To muzzle a pet such as a dog, use a soft strip of cloth, some rope, a necktie or even a nylon stocking. Take it around the nose, under the chin and then tie behind the ears. Take care not to get bitten! Cats and other small pets are more difficult to muzzle, so a towel placed gently but firmly over the head might be a better idea.
- If your pet cannot walk or has passed out, use a board or blanket as a stretcher.
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Copyright © 2004 Leonard Rego. All rights reserved.