Emergencies strike without warning. It can be terrifying, stressful and sometimes devastating. When a pet is hurt during an emergency, it can be difficult but important to remain calm and not panic for your pet’s sake! If they are conscious, they will pick up on your emotions and react accordingly. We recommend a few things in order to be prepared for an emergency. Having a “game plan” before an emergency occurs can help save crucial minutes for your pet. If you feel that your pet is in an emergency situation, seeking help early decreases complications and serious deterioration of your pet’s condition. We are just a phone call away and our trained team can help you decide the best decisions to decrease your worry.
Health care is expensive! Whether it is for yourself, your child or your pet, staying healthy is hits the pocketbook. In an emergency these costs double or triple. If you must make urgent decisions for your pet based exclusively on money, the guilt and heartbreak are excruciating for you, your family and the veterinary team. Pet insurance is a growing area of veterinary medicine. Research the companies available and choose the best plan for your family. If pet insurance isn’t the right fit for you, check out www.carecredit.com. Care Credit is a health care credit card that many human and animal health care providers accept. They offer 6-month financing for balances over $200. A $500 bill can be broken into monthly payments of $85. Another option is to place a certain amount of your paycheck into a separate savings account to be used for pet care. Interest may accrue, supplying a “cushion” in the event of an emergency.
Monetary preparation isn’t the only thing you can do for your pet. Take a pet first aid class. Many colleges and Red Cross facilities offers a course in pet first aid. These courses will teach you how to take heart rate and respiratory rate. They will teach you to check pulses and how to perform CPR. These are vital skills that can help during the time it takes to get your pet to a veterinary hospital. The Red Cross has detailed cat and dog first aid guides and DVDs. Another good thing to have: A Pet First Aid kit! Pet supplies and human supplies are often the same in a first aid kit. Be sure to keep one in your car and in the camper as well! Pre-made kits are available for purchase but putting one together on your own can be done. Start with a waterproof container and include:
- Disposable exam gloves
- Gauze sponges of varying sizes
- Water-based sterile lubricant
- Gauze roll, 2-inch width
- Digital Thermometer
- Elastic cling bandage
- 3% Hydrogen peroxide
- Adhesive tape
- Sterile saline wash
- Non-adherent sterile pads
- Eye dropper or oral syringe
- Nylon leash
- List of emergency phone numbers
- Towel and/or blanket
- List of medications and supplements your pet is currently taking & their scheduled times.
*If your pet has been diagnosed with a certain illness or disease (such as diabetes, seizures, Addison’s, etc.) customize your pet first aid kit to include items they would need in a crisis state.
*Make sure everyone in the house and any pet caregivers (i.e. pet sitters) know where the kit is kept
- Now, that you are prepared, let’s discuss some ways to avoid situations that lead to urgent or emergent pet care.
- Don’t allow your pet to roam unsupervised / off-leash outside.
- Keep electrical wires away/deter pets from chewing on cords to avoid burns and electrocution.
- Store poisons (weed, rat, etc.), fertilizers, cleaners, and insecticides in plastic containers out of reach of your pet.
- Store human and pet medications out of reach of pets to avoid accidental ingestion or overdose.
- Use a pet friendly deicer on sidewalks and driveways.
- Never leave candles or wax burners unattended.
- Have covered trash bins or store them in a pantry or closet.
- Keep toilet lids closed. Avoid automatic toilet bowl cleaners – typically clipped to the bowl or placed in the tank on the back of the toilet.
- Store remote and game controllers where pets can’t get them to avoid battery ingestion.
- Be aware of temperatures. Hot and cold temperatures can be fatal. Never leave your pet in a car, even in the spring and fall. Poor ventilation, a pet’s higher body temp and “greenhouse effect” inside vehicles can cause death within minutes.
Avoid vigorous exercise right before or after meals. All dog breeds, but large, deep-chested dogs are more susceptible to bloat which can lead to a life-threatening condition called Gastric dilatation and volvulus.
- Provide plenty of fresh, clean water. All animals, especially the very young and the very old, are susceptible to dehydration. Water deprivation can quickly lead to serious conditions.
- Secure animals during travel. Cats and small dogs should be in a carrier. Larger dogs can be trained to a seat belt or a crate. Dogs should never be allowed to ride in the back of an open truck bed. Also, be mindful of open windows – dogs love hanging their head out the window but too often they have fallen out leading to serious injury. Accidental closure of power windows can cause strangulation. Eye injuries can occur when a dog has their head outside the window of a moving vehicle.
- Regular veterinary check-ups and keeping vaccinations up to date.
How do I know what is an urgent matter and what is an emergency? American Veterinary Medical Association recommends you seek emergency veterinary medical care in these situations:
- Severe bleeding or bleeding that doesn’t stop within 5 minutes.
- Choking, difficulty breathing, blue gums or nonstop coughing and gagging.
- Bleeding from nose, mouth, rectum, coughing up blood, or blood in urine.
- Inability to urinate or pass feces (stool), or obvious pain associated with urinating or passing stool.
- Injuries to your pet’s eye(s).
- You suspect or know your pet has eaten something toxic (such as antifreeze, xylitol, chocolate, rodent poison, etc.)
- Seizures, staggering or collapse
- Fractured bones, severe lameness or inability to move leg(s).
- Obvious signs of pain or extreme anxiety.
- Heat stress or heatstroke.
- Hypothermia (dog/cat’s body temperature lower than 98°F)
- Severe vomiting or diarrhea – more than 2 episodes in a 24-hour period, or either of these combined with obvious illness or any of the other problems listed here.
- Refusal to drink for 24 hours or more.
In an emergency where you believe your pet has ingested something (poison, too much food, toy, etc.) seek veterinary advice before inducing vomiting. Forcing your pet to vomit could actually cause more harm or even be dangerous.
Save these phone numbers in your phone and put a list in your First Aid Kit:
Mountain View Veterinary Services: 717-477-8938 follow the prompts to reach the doctor on call after hours
Pet Poison Helpline: 855-764-7661 – *Consultation fee may apply
ASPCA animal poison control line: 888-426-4435 *Consultation fee may apply.