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Just as we can fall victim to accidents (big or small), our furry family members are also occasionally in need of first aid. From stocking a pet-friendly kit to administering care in times of need, read on to learn how to help your best friend if emergency strikes.

first things first:

Start with a good first aid kit. Make two kits (one for home and one for your car) to be prepared for any emergency. Include the following: gauze, vet wrap, Vaseline®, clean cloth, tweezers, ice pack and digital thermometer.

Before attempting first aid, you may want to muzzle your pet to protect against bites; even the sweetest pet can lash out when in pain.

 

minor wounds:

Swab the cut with Vaseline, then trim any hair around it.

Clean the wound with soap and water.

Dry the wound and cover with a non-stick pad.

Bandage with gauze and vet wrap.

 

major wounds or bleeding:

Apply direct pressure to the wound with the clean cloth.

Elevate the bleeding area above your pet’s heart (you can use a pillow to prop up a limb).

Use a tourniquet only as a last resort to save a pet’s life.

Transport to medical care as quickly as possible.

 

stings/insect bites:

Remove the stinger with tweezers or by scraping it with the edge of a credit card.

Apply an ice pack to the site.

Watch for an allergic reaction; hives and facial swelling are common.

Some pets may go into anaphylactic shock — this requires immediate emergency care.

 

hyperthermia (heat stroke): 

Move to a shaded or air-conditioned area, and turn on a fan to circulate cool air.

Take your pet’s rectal temperature for a baseline reading (normal is 101.5-102.5 degrees).

Wet the pet’s ear flaps and apply wet cloths (lukewarm, not cold!) to your pet’s neck, belly and groin.

Get to the vet as soon as possible.

 

hypothermia:

Move to a warm area and cover the pet with warm water bottles, blankets or towels.

Heating pads can burn your pet; put several layers between your pet and an electric heat source, and always set electric heat sources to low.

Transport to medical care as soon as possible.


First aid is meant to be exactly that — a first measure, not a substitute for professional help. Always see your veterinarian for your pet’s follow-up care after an accident or injury.

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