After the widespread success our TV vet Paul had on ITV’s This Morning with his discussion on pet first aid, we thought it would be important to share this information with our Vital Pet Health readers. To see live demonstrations of canine CPR and other important first aid techniques please follow the link at the end of this feature to see Paul in action.
We hope you may never need to put this vital knowledge to use, but should the dreaded occur you will be glad you read this potentially life saving article.
FIRST AND FOREMOST ALWAYS HAVE THE OUT OF HOURS EMERGENCY PROVIDER FOR YOUR VET SAVED ON YOUR PHONE. MANY ACCIDENTS DO NOT OCCUR DURING NORMAL WORKING HOURS.
FIRST AID FOR PETS THAT HAVE BEEN IN A ROAD ACCIDENT:
* First instinct is to pick up the animal – DON’T! Assess the situation and ensure it’s safe and the traffic has stopped. Don’t put yourself in danger yourself.
* Try to calm and reassure the dog or cat. Get help if you can, an extra pair of hands to call the vets or help move a large dog is invaluable if you have it.
* Put a muzzle on the animal if necessary. Animals that have never bitten before WILL bite when they are in severe pain.
* Check the animal is breathing. Check the animals’ circulation via their gums if it’s safe to do so and you will not get bitten.
MUCUS MEMBRANE (GUM) COLOUR GUIDE
Blue=lacks oxygen. White=blood loss, either internally or externally. Purple or gray and there is a slow capillary refill=the dog/cat is probably in shock. Bright red=systemic infection or may have been exposed to a toxin.
* Do not move them until you have checked for open wounds or obvious broken bones.
* Carefully put the animal onto a blanket and wrap and take to the vets.
IF YOUR PET STOPS BREATHING – BASIC DOG RESUSCITATION:
* Put the animal on to their side
* Check that breathing has definitely stopped (hold a wisp of fur to the nostrils). Check circulation via mucus membrane (gum) colour.
* Open the mouth, pull the tongue forwards and check for obstructions, such as foreign bodies ie balls/food and fluids. Be careful not to get bitten when removing any material.
* If breathing does not start, extend the head (nose pointing forwards). Hold the mouth closed and blow into the nose about 20 times a minute. If you cannot feel a heartbeat, push on the chest just behind the front legs every second. Give two breaths into the nose for every 15 compressions of the chest. If this is unsuccessful after three minutes, sadly recovery is unlikely.
FIRST AID FOR A BLEEDING DOG OR CAT:
* Keep the dog quiet and calm. Check gum colour and capillary refill time to assess circulation. Put on a tight bandage or apply firm pressure to the wound or place of hemorrhage. Improvise with a towel, sanitary pad or some clothing if necessary. If blood is seeping through, apply another tight layer. Only use a tourniquet as a last resort. For places you cannot bandage, press a pad firmly onto the wound and hold it in place. Get to the vet straight away.
* If you have bandaging materials, place a non-adhesive dressing on the wound and cover with swabs or cotton bandage. Then place a layer of cotton wool. Cover this with more cotton bandage. Stick this to the hair at the top with surgical tape, and cover the whole with adhesive bandage or tape. Do not stick elastoplast to the dog’s hair. When bandaging limbs, always bandage above the next joint and the foot should be included or it may swell up. Never leave a bandage on for more than 24 hours or if it becomes soiled or wet.
FIRST AID FOR DOGS AND CATS WITH BROKEN BONES:
* Deal with any serious bleeding and apply if possible a support bandage until you can get to a vet.
*Do not apply a splint to a broken limb- it is painful and can cause the bone to break through the skin.
*Confine the patient and restrict movement as much as possible for transport to the vet. Smaller dogs and cats can be put in a box. Use as much padding/bedding as possible during transit for comfort.
FIRST AID FOR DOGS THAT ARE CHOKING:
For example: First aid for dogs with a ball stuck in their throat
* Get to the vet quickly. In some instances you may be able to push the ball out by pushing on the throat/neck from the outside but great care must be take not to push the ball further down the throat.
* If the gums or tongue are turning blue or the dog has collapsed, try the following. You will need someone to help you. One person holds the mouth open, while the other reaches inside. Be careful not to get bitten. If you cannot pull the ball out, lay the pet on their side. Push down suddenly and sharply on the tummy just behind the last rib. The person holding the mouth should be ready to grab the ball as it reappears.
* Paul says: “Solid balls aren’t that great for dogs. I’ve seen so many cases of dog’s choking as a solid ball has got stuck. The balls that have holes in the middle such as the Kong variety are best. These allow the animal to breathe even if a ball gets lodged.”
FIRST AID FOR A DOG OR CAT HAVING A FIT / HAVE BEEN POISONED:
* A dog can have a seizure for many reasons, including head trauma, heatstroke or even if they’ve eaten something toxic or poisonous.
* If your dog is having a fit, do not try to hold or comfort the dog or cat, as this provides stimulation, which may in fact prolong the fit.
*Minimise the stimulation by darkening the room and reduce noise. Remove items, especially anything electrical, away from the dog so they cannot cause injury. Pad furniture with cushions. See if the seizure stops after a minute and if not call your vet immediately for advice.
*Do not try to transport your pet whilst they are seizuring unless your vet advises you to do so.
IF POISONED: Try to find packaging from the substance swallowed and have it with you when you phone the vet. If chewing plants is suspected, try to find out the identity of the plant. Call the vet immediately. Do not make your dog sick unless the vet says to do so.
Please note – when you phone the vet try and identify the toxin or poison as quickly as possible to them.
Paul says: “There are lots of poisonous materials around at this time of year which dogs could eat, including Yew Trees, horse chestnuts and autumn crocuses. Lets not forget the usual culprits found all year round for example slug bait and anti-freeze .”
For live demonstrations on pet first aid techniques please click here.