April is National Pet First Aid Awareness Month and an opportunity to draw attention to specialized pet first aid. Like any member of your family, pets need to be properly cared for, and proper care includes knowing what to do in an emergency. Use this month to educate your community about pet first aid via social media, a workshop, or even an in-studio morning news segment.
Here are some tips and resources to get you started!
- If your animal is bleeding, apply gauze and pressure directly to the wound. Take your animal to a local vet or animal emergency room immediately. Do not remove the gauze until your pet is in the hands of a professional.
- If you suspect your pet has ingested or been in contact with something poisonous, identify what the toxin was. For a full list of poisons and the symptoms they cause to animals, visit the Pet Poison Helpline’s website. . Check the label of the product that poisoned your pet and follow the instructions that are on the label. For example, if the product says to flush thoroughly with water upon skin contact, flush your pet’s skin thoroughly with water. Then, take your pet to the vet. If it is an emergency and your pet is experiencing difficulty with breathing, vomiting, or seizures, call your veterinarian, an emergency veterinarian clinic, or the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661. A $49 per incident fee applies.
- If your pet is having a seizure, keep foreign objects away from him so that he doesn’t injure himself while he’s disoriented. Give your pet some space because he might not recognize you while he’s having a seizure. Time the seizure, then call your veterinarian.
- Signs of choking include difficulty breathing, frantic pawing at the mouth, excessive coughing, and blue tinged lips or tongue. Carefully open your pet’s mouth to see if you there is anything visible lodged inside. If there is, carefully remove it with tweezers, making sure not to put it further back. If you cannot reach the object your pet is choking on, keep your pet calm and transport him to the vet. If your pet collapses, put your hands firmly around his rib cage and apply firm, quick pressure. Do this until the object is dislodged or you reach the vet’s office.
- On extremely hot days, your pet may experience heatstroke. Signs include collapse, excessive panting, increased salivation, vomiting, and body temperature above 104 degrees F. If your pet is experiencing this, move him to a shaded area and place a cool, wet towel around his neck. Use a hose to run cool water over your pet’s back, abdomen, and between his hind legs. Use your hand to sweep the water away as it absorbs the your pet’s body heat. Transport your pet to your veterinarian.
Resources: the American Red Cross Store provides Dog First Aid and Cat First Aid Guides with DVDs that teach basic responsibilities like spaying/neutering, giving medications, performing CPR, and preparing for disasters. You can also request brochures and handouts from the Pet Poison Helpline, or the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center.
- On social media, share news stories of animals who have been helped with pet first aid (like this cute video of a kitten saved from a house fire!).
- Host a Pet First Aid Workshop at your shelter to share your knowledge with the community.
- Post tips on social media throughout the month!