First Aid For Our Pets



With warm weather comes more outdoor activities and travel for the family and hopefully, our pets. With this increased activity, there is a greater chance of injury or exposure to something harmful. That does not mean that we should leave our pets at home, protected from everything harmful any more than we should keep our children sealed in a bubble. It does mean that we should be prepared.

Have the name and phone number of your veterinarian written in several places where you can find it right away. Ask him/her in advance if emergency service is available and what you should do in the event of an emergency. Is there a different phone number for weekends and evenings?


The Heart to Heart Pet-a-Palooza at Steele Indian School Park in Phoenix on Saturday focused on keeping dog hearts healthy. Dr. Elizabeth Dunphy, DVM (left), of the Animal Referral & Emergency Center of Arizona, checked Duke's heart and advised owner and new Arizona resident, Emil Owag, about hot-weather precautions. The ARECA receives many emergency and critical referrals from Rim country veterinarians.

Prepare a first aid kit. According to the Animal Referral and Emergency Center of Arizona (ARECA), we should all have a fist aid kit prepared and ready for an emergency. At very best, we should have duplicate kits in the house and in the car. These should be checked regularly to make sure that all the contents are there and in good condition and all the medications are current with no expired dates. In it, we should have everything we need in case of an injury, sickness or bite. Also, it should contain a first aid care guide and the name and numbers for our veterinarian.

According to the ARECA, the inventory should include: conforming 3-inch bandage rolls, large 4-inch square gauze pads -- preferably non-stick, -- terry cloth towels, bandage tape, scissors, tweezers, pliers, magnifying glass, triple-antibiotic ointment, disposable iodine wipes, hydrogen peroxide (3 percent) and rubbing alcohol. Also, in this kit there should be milk of magnesia, a large plastic oral dispensing syringe, cotton balls, sterile eye wash, styptic powder, thermometer, pet shampoo, leash and soft muzzle, latex gloves and emergency blankets.

Being prepared with a first aid kit and some basic first aid knowledge for our dogs and cats could save a life. Much of the care required for our pets follows the same rules as for a person. However, it is vitally important to know when we must seek the aid of a veterinarian and how to recognize that receiving veterinary assistance is urgent, a matter of life or death.What constitutes an emergency? If it is Sunday or the middle of the night, do you know how to find an emergency clinic.

When any of the following signs are evident, call your veterinarian to let him know you are coming and transport immediately: difficulty breathing, unstoppable bleeding, inability to urinate or defecate, heatstroke, bloated or distended abdomen, loss of balance, unconsciousness or seizure, pain, major trauma or injury, shock, poisoning, continued or excessive vomiting and/or diarrhea, lameness, eye injury, allergic reactions, shaking, excessive salivation, abnormal behavior, severe lethargy, anorexia, fever greater than 104 degrees or any other symptoms that are of concern.

In an emergency, it is important to remain calm, keep the animal calm and perform whatever immediate action is required before transporting the pet. For example, if the dog receives a penetrating wound, particularly to the chest, do not remove the object. Instead, make an airtight seal over the wound and around any foreign object by applying a cloth or plastic sheet and holding or taping loosely around the chest. Keep the animal calm, cover him with a blanket and transport immediately.

Arterial bleeding is life threatening and is characterized by a rhythmic spurting.Venous bleeding is a slower dripping or pooling of blood. Control bleeding with gentle, steady pressure with a clean, absorbent material. Use a tourniquet loosely only as a last resort.

Shock is the body's reaction to bodily trauma usually associated with loss of blood pressure and a slowdown of vital body processes. Signs of shock are pale or white gums and tongue, rapid, shallow breathing and a dazed attitude or unconsciousness. Control any bleeding, wrap animal to keep from losing body heat and transport immediately to the veterinarian. Drugs, oxygen and intravenous fluids might be necessary to save your pet.

Broken bones may or may not puncture the skin. In case of a puncture, wrap the area loosely with a clean cloth to keep the area as clean as possible. Support the leg with a folded towel for transport to the veterinarian. Immediate attention is necessary to avoid deformities and lameness.

Snake bites, even from non-venomous snakes, can cause tissue reactions, infection and shock. Do not cut the wound and suck out the venom or apply tourniquets as you have seen in the movies. This might cause more harm than good. Get to the veterinarian immediately.

Animals cannot sweat like people and effectively dissipate body heat. They pant, which is very effective if the temperature is lower than their body temperature.

Heatstroke causes a reduction of blood circulation which compromises kidney function, swelling of the brain and a general overheating of body tissues. Heatstroke has a very high mortality rate and requires immediate veterinarian attention. Signs of heatstroke are extreme panting and salivation, anxious or panicky expression followed by collapse and a rectal temperature exceeding 105 degrees.

The more time we spend with our pets, the more quickly we will notice when they are not feeling well or something hurts. If your pet is showing signs of stress, check him over thoroughly. Use common sense, the same as you would for a child. If in doubt, contact your veterinarian.

Christy Wrather is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at or by snail mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry AZ 85544.

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