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Have pet first aid kit ready

Original Publication Date: April 4, 2016
By C. Sue Furman, Ph.D.

April is National Pet First Aid Month.

It is estimated that 92 percent of all pets will experience a severe medical emergency situation during their lifetime.

This is a good time to consider first aid procedures for four of the most common conditions that pets encounter. You should know the basic steps to slow bleeding and stabilize a fracture. It is also necessary to know how to handle a pet having a seizure or one that has ingested poison.

Always have the phone numbers of your veterinarian, emergency veterinary clinic, and the ASPCA Poison Control Center (888-4ANI-HELP or 888-426-4435, this may incur a fee) handy.

A pet first aid kit and your pet's medical history should also be readily available. Call your veterinarian to describe your pet's condition so he will be prepared when you arrive.

First aid is not a substitute for veterinary care. Your first aid efforts should precede an immediate trip to your veterinarian or emergency clinic.

A pet that is bleeding externally should be muzzled if possible. The most loving pet can bite out of fear and pain. Cover the wound with gauze pads and apply pressure with your hand. Do not remove the gauze if it becomes soaked with blood. Simply add more gauze and continue pressure until blood slows or begins to clot.

A pet that suffers a fracture should be muzzled and kept as quiet as possible. Use a board or firm surface to support your pet while in transit to the vet. You may wish to use a homemade splint to stabilize the fracture. Remember, a poorly placed splint can do more harm than good. It is probably wise to leave bandaging and splinting to your veterinarian.

Have a pet first aid kit ready Have a pet first aid kit ready

A pet can unexpectedly suffer a seizure. The ordeal is startling and may vary in duration but usually lasts 2-3 minutes. Do not try to restrain your pet but do keep him away from furniture or other objects that may cause him injury. It may be easier to move the object than the dog. Once the seizure is over, keep your pet warm and contact your veterinarian.

Poisons can range from cleaning products to chocolate and any number of other toxic substances that taste scrumptious to your dog.

If your pet ingests a toxic substance, gather information from the label, collect any remnants of the toxin, or collect vomit in a plastic bag for the vet. Do not induce vomiting unless directed by your veterinarian or the Poison Control Center. Transport your pet to the vet as quickly as possible.

Be prepared in case your pet suffers a medical emergency. Have phone numbers, medical records, and a pet first aid kit readily available. Know the basic first aid techniques for bleeding, fractures, seizures, poisoning, and other life threatening situations in the event, your pet needs your help.

Sue Furman, Ph.D, has published two books and a DVD on canine massage and teaches classes in pet massage, acupressure, first aid and CPR. See her schedule and submit questions at