April is National Pet First Aid Month. Humans are not the only ones who sometimes need medical attention. However, there are some pet injuries that can be handled at home before taking a trip to the vet. It is important to know what you need to keep on hand in case your pet is in need of first aid, and how to handle their injury.
Always remember that first aid should always be followed by veterinary care. First aid care is not a substitute for veterinary care, but it could save your pets life until they can receive treatment.
First Aid Supplies- While you might have a first aid kit for yourself at home it is important to keep one for your pet as well. A good way to start one is to buy a kit for humans and then add pet specific items to it after. It is important to keep important phone numbers in the kit including your primary vet's number, the closest emergency veterinary clinic (along with directions), a poison control center or hotline (the ASPCA poison control center can be reached at 1-800-426-4435).
It is also important to keep paperwork for your pet in a waterproof container as well including proof of rabies vaccination status, other important medical records and a current photo of your pet (in case they get lost). It is also important to invest in gauze, nonstick bandages, and adhesive tape. Buying bandages specifically made for dogs will help as it will reduce the chances of it getting stuck in the dog's fur and cause further irritation or infection.
Prevent Injuries- While there is no way guarantee your pet won’t ever experience an injury, there are ways to prevent injury from happening. Always keep your dog on a leash when you are in an area that is unfamiliar to you. This will help keep your dog from getting hit by a car or getting in a situation with another animal. It is also important to make sure that you pet-proof your house in order to make sure they do not accidentally poison themselves. It is also important to make sure they are appropriately collared. Making sure that the color is latched correctly can help to prevent accidental strangulation.
Treating The Injury- The first thing to take into consideration when trying to treat your pet is never assume that they will not bite you. Even the gentlest pet could bite due to pain and fear. Do not attempt to hug or pet your injured animal. While your first instinct might be to comfort them, it might only scare the animal more or increase their pain level. Make sure that any examination slowly and gently. If your animal starts to show increased signs of agitation stop immediately. If your pet is NOT vomiting place a muzzle on them to reduce the chance of you or anyone who comes in contact with the pet of being bitten. NEVER muzzle your pet if they are vomiting. When transporting your pet make sure that they are confined to a small area to reduce the risk of further injury. When you take your dog for treatment it is important to bring all of their medical records with you.
It is important to take preliminary actions to keep your pet safe and with their safety in mind. While you may never need to use your kit, it is always important to be prepared just in case.