You have a well-stocked first aid kit. Being a parent, you’ve become an expert in treating booboos. But are you as confident about giving first aid if your pet becomes injured or ill?
It’s often advisable to consult your veterinarian, but you can offer first aid for many pet problems. Here are some common issues and what to do about them, according to Deborah D. Mandell, VMD, of the Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Masha Rubin, DVM, of the Veterinary Specialty Center of Delaware, in New Castle.
Bites. Pet bug bites and stings are common. “They both can cause hives or swelling of your pet’s face, bruising and redness,” says Dr. Mandell. “Benadryl can be an option, but the best thing to do is talk it over with a family veterinarian first. Snake or spider bites need to be seen by a veterinarian because they can have life-threatening consequences, depending on the snake or spider.”
Bleeding. Generally, “If your cat or dog is bleeding, then you want to apply direct pressure to the cut or wound to stop the bleeding,” says Dr. Mandell. “You can try to put pressure or an ice pack on it, although you have to make sure that where (your pet is) bleeding from is not penetrating all the way through,” says Dr. Rubin.
Overheating. “Cats are usually pretty good at avoiding heat strokes,” says Dr. Mandell. “With dogs, the first thing is cooling them down with cold or lukewarm water. If that doesn’t work then they should be seen by a veterinarian.” Symptoms include heavy panting and difficulty breathing. The dog can become unsteady or restless, vomit or have diarrhea. Its gums can appear to be bright pink.
Poisoning. The ASPCA maintains a 24/7 poison control hotline at 888-426-4435. You will be charged a $65 fee, which includes follow-ups. “When you call, you want to make sure you know what it ate, how much it ate, when your pet ate it and the size of the cat or dog,” says Dr. Mandell.
IMPORTANT: Keep your vet’s phone number and the poison hotline number where you can access them quickly in an emergency.
Ticks & Fleas. “It is very important to not use dog flea or tick products on cats. It can be extremely toxic,” says Dr. Mandell. For dogs, “there are many over-the-counter medications for fleas and ticks. Find the one that works best for your pet,” says Dr. Rubin. “Frontline and Advantix are now sold over the counter. They used to be prescription only.”
Vomiting. Cats are notorious for vomiting hairballs. If a dog vomits, try removing food and water for a few hours. If your pet vomits more than once or twice, it can indicate a problem. “They will need to be seen by a veterinarian. Since they are smaller than us, they can get dehydrated really fast,” say Dr. Rubin.
Nicole Jones is a MetroKids intern and communications student at Drexel University.