In case of a pet emergency, it’s important to stay calm and composed, as pets can sense and react to our stress. While it’s always recommended to seek professional veterinary care as soon as possible, knowing basic first aid techniques for pets can be helpful in managing the situation until you can get to the vet. Remember, even if you are able to stabilize your pet with first aid, it’s still crucial to seek veterinary care as soon as possible.
- Bleeding: For bleeding wounds, apply direct pressure with a thick cloth. If blood soaks through, apply additional dressing (do not remove the original dressing). If the pet is bleeding from the rectum, mouth or another orifice, no home aid is recommended. In all cases, transport to the hospital immediately.
- Respiratory Distress: If a pet is gasping, breathing heavily or fast, remove collars/leads and use minimal restraint during transport. Transport to the hospital immediately.
- Choking: Be very careful when attempting to clear the airway. Pets will often bite when panicked. The Heimlich Maneuver may work if an item is lodged in the windpipe. (Note: coughing and gagging are often confused with choking–a pet that is truly choking will move little or no air at all, and the gum color will be gray or bluish. A pet who experiences periodic episodes of “choking” may be gagging.) Transport to the hospital immediately.
- Diabetic Insulin Crisis: Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can be characterized by weakness, disorientation or seizures. Place Karo Syrup® on the gums and transport to the hospital immediately.
- Difficulty in Labor (Dystocia): Pregnant pets in labor for more than 2 hours, or actively straining to produce a puppy or kitten for more than 20 minutes with no results may be experiencing dystocia. Call your veterinarian and prepare to transport. Bring the mother and all puppies/kittens with you and transport to hospital immediately.
- Seizure: Make sure that the pet cannot hurt himself. DO NOT attempt to place anything in his mouth. Bundle the pet in a blanket, and get help to transport the pet in case further seizures occur. Transport to the hospital immediately.
- Nonproductive Vomiting or Retching: This is the most common sign of a life-threatening condition called “gastric dilatation and volvulus,” or “torsion,” especially in large breed dogs. There is no home aid. Transport to the hospital immediately.
- Poison/Toxin Ingestion: Call us at (865) 637-0114 immediately after you realize your pet has ingested something it shouldn’t have. DO NOT induce vomiting unless instructed to do so. Some toxins are fatal over time, so immediate treatment is crucial even if your pet does not appear sick. Bring the label of the ingested substance with you if possible. Household items like plants, antifreeze, rat bait, chocolate, raisins and more can be potentially fatal if not treated immediately. Pet Poison Control (ASPCA) 888-426-4435
- Trauma: Make sure the pet is breathing. Reduce any bleeding with direct pressure. Secure the pet in a blanket or towel, if possible, to reduce movement. Transport to the hospital immediately.
- If you think it’s an emergency, bring your loved one in!
- For respiratory distress, choking, seizures, nonproductive vomiting or retching, poisoning/toxin ingestion, and trauma, transport to the hospital immediately.
- For difficulty in labor (dystocia), call your veterinarian and prepare to transport. Bring the mother and all puppies/kittens with you to the veterinarian. If possible, keep the family together in a box. If the mother is too large or restless to transport with her young, use a heat source (such as hot water-filled milk jugs) to keep the puppies or kittens warm.
- Pets who are severely ill or injured may try to bite, claw, or act in an aggressive manner toward those trying to help them. Approach any injured or sick pet slowly and calmly; say their name and see how the animal reacts. Get help if the pet reacts aggressively.
- For dogs, fashion a makeshift stretcher if the animal is unable to move. Make sure the neck is supported.
- For cats, slowly place a blanket or towel over the head to prevent biting. Slowly lift the animal into an open-topped carrier or box.
- Elevate and apply pressure to any bleeding wound during transport.