When you’re faced with a veterinary emergency, time can work against you. The most important thing is to get your pet to an animal clinic. In some cases there are things you can do to prepare for or while transporting an injured dog or cat.
Your first priority should be the safety of yourself and your pet. When injured, even the most loving animal may bite out of fear or pain. Keep this in mind when trying to pick them up; a towel can be very useful to put over them for warmth and to keep your arms covered. Wrap bandaging can also be tied gently but firmly around a dog’s mouth as a soft muzzle. Please don’t run into traffic to help an injured animal. If you get hit by a car too, you won’t be any help to anyone. A few years ago, a veterinarian in Tennessee was killed trying to rescue an injured animal in traffic.
You should have your veterinarian’s number handy – Briarcliff has a technician available 24 hours a day, so that you can speak to someone even when we’re closed. They may be able to advise you on the need for emergency care after hours. The number for the closest 24-hour emergency clinic is also good to have on hand.
A first aid kit specifically for pets is invaluable. Here are several essential things to include:
- Bandaging supplies – nonstick pads, soft padding to cushion a wound, and wrap type bandage (self-sticking, such as Vetwrap, is best)
- A digital thermometer to be used rectally
- Benadryl (diphenhydramine) can be used in dogs for things like bee stings – dosage is 1 mg per pound of body weight every 8 hours as needed (meaning a 25-lb. dog would get 1 25-mg. tablet, a 50-lb. dog would get 2 25 mg. tablets, etc.).
- Water – this can be essential for cooling down a pet who has overheated. (Don’t use ice water as it will constrict blood vessels and slow their ability to cool.)
- The phone number for poison control. Georgia has a free service you can call, at 404 616 9000, or 1 800 222 1222. The ASPCA has one that is focused on animals, but there is a charge of $65: 1 888 426 4435. There is also the Pet Poison Hotline, at 1 800 213 6680, and the cost for that is $35. If your pet has gotten into something that was purchased, keep the packaging with you. The hotlines and the veterinarian will have an easier time treating them if they know exactly what chemicals they’re dealing with.
Staying calm can be very hard in such a situation, but it is very important. Our cat once sneaked into the dryer, and it was on for about a minute before we realized. The first thing I thought to do was take his temperature – 105. Then I panicked and was no help whatsoever. Even though I’d seen pets with higher temps, I hadn’t seen one of mine that high. We took him to the emergency clinic and once they cooled him down with fluids he was fine, other than a bruised tail. He doesn’t get in the dryer anymore. But I was upset that I got so flustered and couldn’t help.
Another useful resource is the Atlanta Animal Ambulance. They can transport your pet to the veterinarian quickly and safely, and spare you from having to drive while emotional and upset. Their phone number is 678 439 K911, and the website is http://frogstodogs.com/index.php?id=35.
Common sense things, such as applying pressure to a bleeding wound and not running into a busy street to help an injured pet, should also be considered. Call the authorities if there is a situation you can’t handle, and if you are in any doubt about whether you need medical assistance, call your veterinarian’s office. We are always happy to help!