By KD Angle-Traegner, Founder & Editor
Spring is in full swing and the warmer weather has most of us heading outside with our companion animals. Spring doesn’t just bring sunnier days however, it can also bring a host of problems to companion animals as well.
From bee stings to eating plants they shouldn’t have, animals can get themselves into serious situations. It’s important to know what to do if or when emergencies arise.
Going outside means coming in contact with insects which can bite or sting us or our furry friends. In some dogs, stings and bites can cause a serious condition called Anaphylactic Shock.
Anaphylactic Shock is a severe allergic reaction that, if left untreated, causes seizures, coma, and death. Anaphylaxis targets the liver. Signs develop almost immediately, usually within minutes, after the animal has been exposed to the allergen.
The first signs of anaphylaxis usually include:
- Sudden Diarrhea
- Emptying of bowels (defecation/urination)
- Severe itchiness & development of hives
- Excessive drooling
- Shallow, rapid, and/or difficult breathing
- Pale gums (tacky)
- Fast heart rate
- Poor pulse
- Cold limbs
Anaphylactic shock is almost always fatal if not treated immediately. If your dog (or other companion animal) exhibits any of these symptoms, take him or her to a vet immediately. Time is of the essence, go quickly and safely.
Poisoning is another common pet emergency.
Generally speaking, any products that are dangerous for humans are also dangerous for non-humans. Think cleaning products, automobile lubricants and coolants (antifreeze), lawn chemicals, and rodent poisons. You should also be aware that there are common food items that could also be harmful. The Animal Veterinary Medical Association wrote the article, Household Hazards to Pets, which offers a summary of foods and common household items to watch out for.
If you know your companion animal has consumed something dangerous you can call the Animal Poison Control Center hotline at 888-426-4435 (available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day) or go to your closest emergency veterinarian.
Find additional information on animal poisoning (including plants, household products, foods and more) please visit the (ASPCA) Animal Poison Control.
What would happen if your dog had an emergency? Would you be able to navigate to the nearest vet quickly and safely? Do you know the phone numbers of your local vets to let them know your on your way? Being prepared can mean all the difference in high-stress situations.
Here are a few ways you can make emergencies go a little smoother.
- Program all of the surrounding vet offices into your phone, including the hours that they are open. Designate the contact as a favorite so that their information is easily accessible.
- Program the numbers to local wildlife rehabilitation agencies in your area in your phone. Emergency vets are not typically equipped to treat wild life such as birds, squirrels, chipmunks, possums, etc. It’s important to know how to get these free-living animals help.
- Do you know how to get to the closest vet office? Do you know what routes to take or back roads? Do you know how long it takes to get to each one so you know which one is closest? You should.
- My regular veterinarian has a medical history for all of the animals that live with me, but an emergency veterinarian or animal hospital won’t. In some cases, medical history is important to the treatment plan. For those cases, I keep a copy of their medical history in a folder I can grab quickly on the way to the emergency veterinarian.
- Do you have a first aid kit for your companion animals? You need one.
Until a few years ago, I didn’t carry a first aid kit for companion animals. Now, I can’t recommend having one enough.
Before I go any further, I am not a veterinarian. I’m not claiming to be a veterinarian, nor am I claiming that this advice should replace that of a qualified veterinarian. This article is for informational purposes only. Please consult your regular veterinarian with any questions or concerns regarding the health of any animals who live with you.
Now. Let’s talk first aid kits for companion animals.
Here’s what is in my own first aid kit:
- Styptic Powder (or cornstarch)
- Eye dropper or oral syringe
- Cotton Swabs
- Cotton balls
- Paper Towels
- Rectal Thermometer
- Lubricant such as mineral oil/vaseline
- Disposable gloves
- Cold packs/Heat packs (wrap in towel prior to use)
- Non-stick pads
- First aid tape
- Bandage rolls (Vetwrap)
- Wound disinfectant
- Triple antibiotic ointment for skin
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Dye-Free Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) for allergic reactions. Get proper dosage from your veterinarian.
Watch expiration dates on any medication and replace as needed.
I have a kit for my house and one that I keep in my car. In addition to the first aid kit, I also keep water, a portable water bowl, treats, poo bags, a collapsable cardboard pet carrier and a spare leash in the car at all times.
First aid should never be used as a substitute for care provided by a licensed veterinarian, but being prepared could save an animals life. Please remember to follow up with your vet anytime an animal has had an emergency.
In a real emergency situation you are forced to deal with any lack of planning that you might have. Don’t let a random tragedy remind you that you could have been more prepared.