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Basic First Aid for Your Pet

Accidents can happen despite our best efforts to keep our pets safe and healthy. While it's always best to consult with your veterinarian if your pet has been injured, sometimes it just isn't possible. Hopefully you will never have to encounter a situation where you need to administer first aid to your pet, but it's good to be prepared just in case the need arises.

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Here are a few of the more common situations that may occur. Treat them as best you can, and then call or visit your vet as soon as you are able. Remember that injured animals may be afraid and in pain, and they may bite as a result. Please be careful!

  • Cuts, bite marks, puncture wounds, etc. Gently clean the area with warm water.

  • Heat stroke. Watch for symptoms like uncontrollable panting, collapse, a blank or fixed stare, excessive drooling, tacky gums, or unconsciousness. Move your pet to a cool, quiet area and offer him or her some water.

  • Car accidents. Your pet is likely to be in shock; try to keep her quiet and warm, and try to stop any bleeding. Take your pet to the vet immediately - use a blanket or a board to get her there. Be very careful ... even the gentlest of dogs may bite if frightened or in pain.

  • Bee or wasp stings. If you can see the stinger, take it out. Then wrap the affected area in a cool damp cloth. Watch for severe reactions - most pets should recover fairly quickly, but call your vet if yours does not.

  • Burns. Apply cold water to the affected area and call your vet.

  • Poison. If you suspect your pet has been poisoned, call your vet immediately. Do NOT attempt to make your pet vomit. Your vet may be able to coach you over the phone, or may ask that you bring the pet to the clinic. Provide all the information you can. For example, if you know your pet has ingested a poison, tell the vet what it was, how much, and when it occurred.

  • Eye problems. If your pet is squinting and seems unable to open his eye, consult with your vet. The sooner, the better - eyes are a delicate organ and you don't want your beloved pet going blind or losing his eye.