April is National Pet First Aid Awareness Month, which helps promote and raise awareness for the first aid and safety of pets during a crisis or emergency. The American Red Cross aims to educate pet owners with preparedness tips and tools to better handle an emergency with their pets.
As pet parents, we know that most of us are wonderful owners with healthy animals, knowing how to keep them that way, at least most of the time. But what happens if your dog suddenly chokes on a toy, is hit by a car, has a seizure, or ingests a toxin? Many of us have a plan for every possible emergency with our kids but are not properly equipped to know how to handle an emergency with our furry family members. In reality, pets are surrounded by hazards all the time, and many of these can lead to serious accidents.
So in honor of National Pet First Aid Awareness Month, we have some helpful information about recognizing if there is an emergency, and tips to ensure that even during emergencies, your beloved pups are safe.
Pet First Aid Awareness Month Tips
How to Tell If Your Dog is Dehydrated
To determine if your dog is dehydrated, pull up on the skin between their shoulder blades. It should spring right back into place. If it stays tented up, this is a sign of dehydration. Dehydration can lead to many serious ailments, so be sure to give your pup water immediately if you notice they are thirsty or have any signs of dehydration.
Common Signs of Pet Poisoning
Poisons can be ingested, inhaled, and absorbed through the skin. Signs of poisoning include bleeding externally or internally, dilated pupils, drooling or foaming at the mouth, seizures, or an abnormal mental state or behavior. If you think a toxin has poisoned your dog call Animal Poison Control and an emergency veterinarian immediately. If your pet already experiences more than one of the extreme signs of poisoning, don’t wait—take them to the urgent care right away.
What to do if Your Pet Has a Seizure
During an active seizure, your dog may fall over, twitch, urinate, and drool. You may see them fall over and be stiff (grand mal seizure), or look like they are staring into space. If your pet has a seizure, make sure they are in a safe place, but do not restrain or hold them down. Keep your hands away from the mouth, as your pet may not recognize you during a seizure and bite in defense. Once your dog is safe, and the seizure has subsided, sit with them to help calm them down. If this is their first seizure, they are not recovering, or are having seizures often, call your emergency vet.
Common Signs of Heat Stroke or Heat Exhaustion
Some of the signs your pet has heat stroke include a sudden collapse, an increased body temperature of 104*F or above, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting. Wobbliness, excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, and increased salivation are also signs of severe heat stroke. If you think your pet has heat stroke or heat exhaustion, get them out of direct heat right away. Cool your dog down by spraying cool water, placing cool, wet towels on their head, feet, and chest, and placing fans with cool air near them.
What to do if Your Dog is Bleeding
If your pet is bleeding from a light abrasion, apply a sterile water-soluble lubricant and clip the hair around the wound with grooming clippers. Wash the wound with warm water and call your veterinarian if needed. If a deeper wound occurs, apply direct pressure using gauze over the bleeding site. If the blood soaks through, apply more gauze (do not remove soaked gauze) until you can reach a veterinary hospital.
The American Red Cross has some helpful books on Dog Safety and Cat Safety. In addition, their mobile app Pet First Aid, will keep the knowledge you need at your fingertips. Both tools can help you and your family learn invaluable information about pet first aid and pet emergencies to keep your pets safe, healthy, and happy.