June is National Pet Preparedness Month. Are you prepared to deal with a medical emergency with your pet? And how about a natural disaster like a hurricane? As a pet owner, I’m sure that you don’t even want to think about these things, but preparing for disasters and emergencies is essential. Be prepared with a first aid kit and disaster bag for your pets. I’ve also got some tips about animal first aid, and you can see how to perform the Heimlich Maneuver on pets too.
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Tips for pet owners: prepare for disasters and emergencies
First, let’s talk about medical type emergencies. Broken bones, poisoning, cuts, and bite wounds can happen to any pet at any time. Keeping a complete first aid kit in your home and in every car will ensure that your animal receives the best possible care in the event of an injury or other emergency.
Administering first aid can really improve a pet’s prognosis. Broken bones can sever arteries and ligaments if they’re not properly splinted. If you don’t induce vomiting, the body could absorb a deadly dose of toxin by the time you arrive at the vet’s office. If you don’t stop bleeding, the body can go into shock. All sorts of terrible things can occur between the time an incident occurs and the time the animal arrives at the veterinarian’s office.
In addition to maintaining a complete pet first aid kit in the home and vehicle, pet owners should also consider taking a pet first aid class to learn basic first aid skills, CPR and the Heimlich maneuver for pets. Many animal rescue leagues and other humane organizations offer pet first aid courses, as do some pet stores.
What you should have in a first aid kit for your pets
I’ve linked to several of the products you should have in your first aid kit for your pet. A lot of these items are first aid items for people too, so they do double duty!
Rolled gauze (four rolls)
Hydrogen Peroxide (3%)
Ace bandages (two rolls) This has 4 rolls: 2 of each size.
Instant cold packs (three)
Wound wash saline (two bottles)
One small blanket
One large blanket
Three wire coat hangers for splinting
Two hand towels
One gallon of water
Emergency Contact Information for Pets
Phone numbers for the following should be included in all first aid kits you have for your pets.
24-hour emergency veterinary clinic
Pet poison control phone number
In addition, for pets who are chronically ill and require medication for survival, if possible, keep at least two weeks’ worth of prescription medication on-hand in the home kit since this kit will likely be the one you’ll grab in a disaster situation. Keep at least two days’ worth in the car kit. This includes medications for diabetes, epilepsy, heart conditions, and other diseases, like Addison’s Disease.
Pet owners should always contact a veterinarian in the event of an emergency. And keep the necessary supplies on-hand – there’s not going to be time to run out to the store if your pet is bleeding profusely.
First Aid for Pets – Wound Care, Pet CPR, and How to Stop Bleeding
Pet owners should also have some basic knowledge of first aid. The following basic skills can help owners save their pet’s life:
Know how to stop bleeding by applying pressure to the wound.
Know how to flush and disinfect a wound
Take a pet CPR class. The Red Cross provides an online class here.
Learn the Heimlich maneuver for pets and understand how to handle a choking emergency. I’ve got this info below.
Learn how to examine an animal’s vital signs and what values are normal.
Know how to make a splint for an injured limb or tail.
Practice using a muzzle, and know how to make a muzzle from tape or a strip of cloth.
Understand how to induce vomiting or how use milk of magnesia or activated charcoal to absorb a toxin in the event of poisoning.
Notably, pet owners should always contact their vet before inducing vomiting because in some instances, more harm may occur if the animal vomits.
Heimlich Maneuver for pets
If your pet is choking, you will probably panic. I know I would! But, knowledge is power, and knowing how to do the Heimlich Maneuver on your pets will help you remain somewhat calm, so you can handle this emergency. Thanks to
Dr. Gary Weitzman, licensed veterinarian and president of the San Diego Humane Society for these instructions about the Heimlich Maneuver.
- For large and medium dogs, put your arms around the belly and join your hands.
- Make a fist and push up on your dog’s chest just behind the rib cage.
- Don’t pick up your dog.
- If your dog is lying down, place one hand on his back for support and push the abdomen upward toward the head with your other hand.
- Lie small dogs and cats on their sides with one hand on the back and the other just below the rib cage, and push firmly upward.
- Remove any objects from the mouth or throat when you safely can.
- Don’t pull string out of your cat’s mouth if it extends down the throat—it could be caught in the intestines.
Take a look at Dr. Weitzman’s most recent book, Complete Guide to Pet Health, Behavior and Happiness. You’ll learn how to navigate through first aid situations—bleeding, burns, de-skunking, heatstroke, insect bite, wounds, among others.
Preparing a disaster bag for your pet
If you have to leave your home quickly in the case of a natural disaster, you should have your pet first aid kit along with several other items. Keep it with your “bug out” bag. If you consider your pet to be part of your family, you’ve got to get their disaster bags ready too!
Pet handling tools – like thick gloves for cats
A two-week supply of their food
Pre-made lost pet signs in case your pet gets separated from you
Your pets’ medications
Any other items you use frequently with your pets
In addition to all of this information, you can download a free booklet. The American Veterinary Medical Foundation offers a free booklet with.
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