How to respond if your pet has a medical emergency

Basic first-aid supplies for pet owners

(Items to be used in an emergency under the direction of veterinary personnel before the injured or sick animal is brought to the hospital)

Now that the warmer weather we've all been hoping for has finally arrived, it's time to enjoy some outdoor activities with your canine companions.

While spring and summer offer unlimited recreational opportunities that afford owners and their four-footed companions to bond, such as hiking, swimming, playing Frisbee, or just taking a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood after supper, veterinarians urge folks to be prepared if a medical emergency occurs.

"Having a first aid kit for your pet is not much different than one for you and your family," begins Dr. Thomas Burns, hospital director at Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod in Yarmouth. "Being educated and prepared for an emergency could really change the outcome. Some incidents may not present as a threat but often can be."

Burns cites the example of a dog that appears to be overheated on a hot summer day. Having a rectal thermometer and petroleum jelly could tell an owner whether the dog needs be brought inside and offered cool water or rushed to the veterinarian for emergency treatment. (A dog's normal temperature is 101° to 102.5° F, while the normal range of a feline's temperature is 100.5° to 102.5°)

"These two simple items alone could save you money, and possibly your pet's life," the veterinarian emphasizes.

According to Burns, every pet owner should have quick access to bandages.

"There really isn't a type of laceration or wound that should go untreated," he continues. "Bandages can slow or control major blood loss for invasive wounds. They also keep any debris from getting into any type of wound, large or small."

Many large pet stores sell flexible, self-adhering bandages that don't pull fur and are designed specially for dogs and cats.

For hikers and folks who take their canines on day trips to remote parks and beaches, it's wise to also have a first aid kit in the car or truck to provide emergency treatment before the injured animal can be rushed to a veterinary clinic.

Pet First Aid & Pet Emergency and Survival Supplies come in many varieties! Pet First Aid & Pet Emergency and Survival Supplies come in many varieties!

Burns emphasizes that it's important to have contact information for your veterinarian, as well as the clinic's address, hours of operation, and directions readily available, especially if an unfamiliar party is temporarily caring for the animal.

"In an emergency situation, time is of the essence," Burns adds. "The best advice is to be prepared."

According to Amy Sarmento, a certified veterinary technician at Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod, every cat and dog owner should purchase a pet first aid book and be familiar with its contents.

Important contacts should also include the closest emergency clinics, and the number of the ASPCA Poison Control Center, (888) 426-4435. (A veterinary consultation charge may be applied to a credit card for some calls).

"If you are traveling with your pet, find out where the closest clinic is and know how to get there," Sarmento advises.

She also recommends that owners organize a folder containing important information including proof of rabies and vaccination status, copies of important medical records, and a current photo of the animal, which is especially useful if the animal ever gets lost.

Dr. Lauren Collazo, a veterinarian at VACC, says that all pet owners should know CPR as it could save the life of their furry family companion.

"In an emergency situation, you are your pet's first responder," she tells, expanding upon Burns' comments. "What you are able to do for your pet in those first several minutes could make a huge difference in their outcome. Knowing how to administer proper first aid and CPR is invaluable in these situations."

Sporting Dog (& Horse and Cat!) First Aid Kits Sporting Dog (& Horse and Cat!) First Aid Kits

Collazo says that organizations such as the MSPCA, Red Cross, many large pet supply retailers, and some community colleges offer training programs on pet first aid and CPR. Locally, Bristol Community College will offer a day-long training session, Saturday, May 3, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., at the Center for Workforce and Community Education, 102 Davol St., Fall River. For more information or to register, call (508) 678-2811.

"Take the time to learn how to control bleeding, perform the Heimlich maneuver, treat heat exhaustion, treat hypothermia, and perform CPR on both dogs and cats," Collazo advises. "These are techniques that you will hopefully never have to use but will be invaluable to know if the emergency situation arises."

Originally posted in SouthCoastToday

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