Thursday, January 6, 2011

Animal first aid: Could you help your pet in an emergency?

Liam and Lucy rely on my help when they have a pet emergency

I’m often on the front lines in a pet medical emergency. My animals are accustomed to staggering to me for help when they’re injured or not feeling well. 

I have dealt with:
  • Strained backs
  • Choking
  • Broken toes
  • Severe allergic reactions 
Thankfully, I can usually provide supportive care until I can whisk my pets to the emergency vet. But this wasn’t always the case.  

In my early years as a pet owner, I would make frantic phone calls to emergency vet clinics. When I worked in an emergency animal clinic, I started fielding these calls. It’s hard to calm people down and get them to focus on steps when they are upset. It’s harder yet to be upset and have no idea what to do next.

Being prepared is your best line of defense. Even if you don’t have a medically fragile animal, the day may come when you’re forced to be your pet’s EMT. 

Start by learning how to do animal CPR. This is a great handout to print out, study and then keep in a communal place, where you can grab it if you need it.  

Portland area residents might consider taking this first aid class from the Oregon Red Cross (link has expired; the class was a success, from what I hear!).  You’ll learn CPR here, and you’ll get additional training on how to deal with broken bones, poisons and bleeding.

Heading to the ER is always smart when your pet is in the midst of a medical emergency. Some things just can't be fixed at home. But, knowing the basics could help you to keep your pet safe, and your head calm, while you travel there.