Be Prepared: Pet First Aid Basics

Our pets are part of our family, and just like human family members, they can become injured or fall victim to disasters or local emergencies. With April being Pet First Aid Awareness Month, we thought it would be fitting to share three common pet first aid practices and proactive pet preparedness measures.

Pet First Aid Kit

The Humane Society of the United States recommends that every home have a basic pet first aid kit on hand. You can easily purchase a pet first aid kit online or from a local pet supply store or utilize a first aid kit designed for people and simply add pet-specific items to it. Some specific pet items include:

  • Pet first aid book
  • Phone numbers for your vet, nearest emergency vet, and poison control center or hotline
  • Pet paperwork, such as proof of rabies-vaccine status, copies of important medical records and a current photo of your pet
  • Leash
  • Self-cling bandage (sticks to itself, but not to pet fur)
  • Muzzle or strips of cloth to prevent biting

Putting together this simple kit for your pet will prepare you for those moments when you

ABC for Pet CPR

Just like people, dogs and cats can require Cardiac Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and knowing how to properly administer CPR to your pet could save their life. If you are in an emergency and your pet is non-responsive, first check ABC:

  • Check AIRWAY

If you do not see your pet’s chest moving and cannot find a heartbeat, begin CPR. The American Red Cross offers instructions for how to administer pet CPR, and even an online training course. For more information, visit their website. You never know when you may need to perform CPR on your furry family member, so it is best to have a general understanding of pet CPR.

Heat-Related Emergencies

As a pet owner in Arizona, it is important to know the signs of both heat stroke and heat exhaustion, among other heat-related ailments or emergencies. Most common causes of heat stroke and heat exhaustion include a dog left in a parked car, a dog not acclimated to the weather conditions (such as if you moved here from a different climate) and lack of shelter for outdoor animals. Dogs with thick coats, underlying diseases such as heart or lung disease, and breed disposition can also play a role in heat exhaustion or heat stroke susceptibility.

Signs of heat stroke/exhaustion in dogs include:

  • Excessive panting or difficulty breathings, increased salivation
  • Wobbliness or collapse
  • Body temperature of 104° F or above
  • Increased heart rate, very red mucous membranes, and bloody diarrhea or vomiting

If your dog experiences any of these symptoms when in hot temperatures, get them out of direct heat, take their temperature (normal body temp is 99.5 to 102.5° F) and attempt to cool them down by spraying them with cool water, placing water-soaked towels on their head, neck, feet, chest and abdomen, or by using fans. Seek immediate veterinary attention.

Heat stroke can happen quickly, but it often progresses from mild heat stress to more moderate heat exhaustion before reaching the severe heat stroke stage. It does not take long for the signs of heat stress to be displayed, however, and it’s easy to take precautions to prevent it. Providing plenty of shade and water to your pet and cooling them down at the very early signs of any type of heat stress will help keep your pet safe in the heat.

These first aid tips are just three of the many, many ways you can provide your pet support and help in an emergency. Watching for signs of distress and knowing your animal’s physical limitations will keep them healthy and happy.