By Nancy Cope
The best way to help your dog in an emergency is to be prepared. Start planning what to do before anything ever happens and things are much more likely to turn out well for you and your dog.
You can prepare in advance for an emergency by talking to your veterinarian.
Find out if he or she keeps emergency hours. Many vets today do not but your vet can recommend a local emergency vet clinic near you. You should know your vet’s days and hours of operation as well as those of the emergency clinic. Know where the emergency clinic is located and how to get there quickly. Keep these phone numbers handy. You could put them up on your refrigerator, for example, or put them in your cellphone. Having this information readily available can save you valuable time if your dog has an emergency.
First aid kit
It’s a good idea to keep a basic canine first aid kit at home. You can buy a first aid kit that is already stocked or you can assemble one with some basic items. You will need the following supplies:
• Adhesive Tape
• Antibiotic Ointment
• Cold Pack
• Cotton Balls
• First Aid Spray
• Gauze Pads
• Hydrocortisone 1%
• Hydrogen Peroxide
• Iodine Swabs
• Ipecac Syrup
• Magnifying Glass
• Stretch Gauze
• Styptic Powder
This may look like a long list but you can easily find all of these things in your local drug store. It shouldn’t cost too much to put together. You can keep everything in a small bag or a tackle box. It’s a good idea to keep things as organized as possible so you can easily locate items when you need them. With a first aid kit like this you can treat minor wounds or make your dog regurgitate something bad he’s eaten, among other things.
When your dog needs emergency care
While you can treat a minor cut or wound at home, if your dog suffers a more serious injury or accident, you need to seek professional treatment. Signs that your dog needs to see a vet include the following:
• Appears to be paralyzed
• Change in body temperature
• Excessive bleeding
• Loss of consciousness
• Pale gums
• Rapid breathing
• Trouble standing
• Weak or rapid pulse
If your dog is displaying some of these symptoms, do not panic. It is important that you stay calm. Do get your dog to your vet or emergency clinic as quickly as possible for assessment.
Other common emergencies include stings by bees and dogs ingesting poisons. Bee stings are often self-evident. Some dogs have only a slight reaction to a bee sting while others have a strong allergic reaction. If they have been stung on the face or mouth, as often happens, their head may start to swell which can affect their ability to breathe. If this is the case with your dog, or if he is stung multiple times and has a strong reaction, you should take him to your vet right away for treatment. Don’t waste any time. His breathing could become impaired. If your dog has an allergic reaction like this you could ask your vet for a prescription for an epi-pen containing epinephrine for your dog so you will have it handy in case he is stung by a bee again.
Dogs can also poison themselves sometimes. They are curious and they can eat or drink things that are harmful to them. You should keep all cleaning products, anti-freeze, and other things that could be harmful to your dog well out of your dog’s reach. Try not to plant flowers in your yard that could be harmful to your dog if he eats them. Keep prescription medication and over-the-counter drugs away from your dog. These are all things that dogs often consume which can poison them.
If your dog does eat something that poisons him, or if he appears to be poisoned, call your vet immediately for instructions on what to do. Do not try to make your dog vomit unless you talk to your vet and he or she tells you to proceed. If your dog has ingested something corrosive then vomiting will make the condition worse. Be prepared to take your dog to your vet right away for treatment.
Nancy Cope is the owner of four rescue dogs and Pampered Dog Gifts.