Common Pet Injuries

Pet owners should definitely have some knowledge about first aid for animals. The decisions you make in the first few minutes of an emergency can have serious implications for the life and health of your pet.

Lacerations and Puncture Wounds

You can perform basic first aid, particularly to prevent excessive bleeding, before transporting you pet to the vet’s:

  • Attempt to stop the bleeding. With a clean cloth or your hand, apply direct pressure to the wound. If this fails to stop the bleeding, seek veterinary assistance.
  • For minor cuts and scrapes, clean the wound with clear water, saline or iodine/Betadine®, apply antibiotic ointment and cover with a clean bandage to prevent infection.
  • In a life or death situation you can apply a tourniquet. This, however, carries a high risk of stopping circulation to the affected appendage and causing gangrene. Release intermittently to allow circulation to the affected area.
  • If a laceration or puncture wound is very deep, especially in the area of the chest, abdomen or eyeball, see a vet immediately.

Fractured Bones

All you can do in the case of a fracture is to identify the fracture and let your vet take over.

With gentle pressure, feel the limb or area that you suspect to be broken.

Gently explore the area for irregularities or other unusual bumps.

If you believe a break exists, contact your veterinarian for instructions on transportation and try to immobilize the animal while on the way to the vet.

Treatment for Burns

Call your vet immediately if you see signs that your pet has been burned. In case of a chemical burn, identify the substance that injured you pet and let your veterinarian know what happened.

Superficial and Serious Burns: Superficial burns are painful, redden the skin, singe the hair and cause the hair to pull out easily. Serious burns are actually less painful because the nerves have been destroyed. The skin may be white, black or brown, and the hair will be gone or it will pull out easily. Very serious burns cause an open wound. To treat:

  • Soak a cloth in cold water and hold it to the burned area.
  • If the burn is an open wound, wrap it loosely with gauze or a dry cloth, as contact with water may cause severe infection.
  • Try to keep your pet lying down and restrained in blankets during transport to the vet. Unless the animal is vomiting, give him water to prevent dehydration.
  • Chemical Burns: Take these steps if you know what caused the burn:
  • Wash the burned area with lots of plain water, especially if the burn is around the face.
  • If the chemical is acidic, rinse with a solution consisting of one teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to every liter of water. If basic/alkali, use plain water only.
  • Apply soothing ointment if you have some on hand. Alternatively, olive oil may be used, as it is both inert and protective.

Transporting Injured Animals

Remain calm when transporting your injured animal to the veterinarian’s. Take precautions to avoid further injury to your pet. Keep in mind that when animals are in pain, they sometimes try to bite or scratch those trying to help them. You may have to use a muzzle or a band of cloth to prevent your pet from causing unnecessary harm.

The following diagram illustrates the proper way to muzzle a dog before transport:

  • Emergency Muzzle
  • Some simple ways you can insure your pet’s safety during transport:
  • To make your pet feel safer, use a crate or cat carrier for the trip to the hospital.
  • If possible, have someone else drive while you comfort and hold your pet.
  • If possible, take along something from your pet’s bedding for the car ride. Anything with a familiar smell will comfort your pet on the way to the hospital.
  • Use a board or blanket when carrying a heavier pet, particularly if you suspect bone or internal injuries. A blanket can also be used to keep your pet warm.
  • Use the back seat of your car to give your pet as much space as possible.
  • Keeping your pet comfortable and relaxed when traveling or after surgery is very important.

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