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Pet First Aid
If your pet has an injury or illness, contact your veterinarian right away!
If your pet has a medical emergency in your veterinarian’s off-hours, contact one of these emergency veterinary clinics:
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center
888-4ANI-HELP (888-426-4435) (there may be a fee for this call)
Diley Hill Animal Emergency Center
9695 Basil-Western Road
Canal Winchester, OH 43110
Pet First Aid Checklist
The American Veterinary Medicine Association recommends keeping these first-aid supplies on hand for your pet:
- Gauze for wrapping wounds or muzzling the injured animal
- Nonstick bandages, towels, or strips of clean cloth to control bleeding or protect wounds. NEVER use Band-Aid-type bandages on pets! They can pull off the bandage and swallow it.
- Adhesive tape to secure the gauze wrap or bandage
- Milk of magnesia
- Activated charcoal to absorb poison. Always contact your veterinarian or local poison control center before inducing vomiting or treating an animal for poison.
- Hydrogen peroxide (3%) to induce vomiting. Always contact your veterinarian or local poison control center before inducing vomiting or treating an animal for poison
- Digital thermometer to check your pet’s temperature. You will need a “fever” thermometer because the temperature scale of regular thermometers doesn’t go high enough for pets. Do not insert a thermometer in your pet’s mouth—the temperature must be taken rectally.
- Eye dropper (or large syringe without needle) to give oral treatments or flush wounds.
- Muzzle to cover your pet’s head. This can be a rope, soft cloth, nylon stocking or a small towel in an emergency. NEVER muzzle a vomiting animal!
- Leash to transport your pet (if your pet is capable of walking without further injury).
- Stretcher to stabilize the injured animal and prevent further injury during transport. This can be a door, board, blanket or floor mat in an emergency.
Pet First Aid
The American Veterinary Medical Association offers terrific guidance on how to handle some common pet injuries. Click on the items below to learn how to care for your pet’s injury.
Handling an Injured Pet
If your pet is injured, it could be in pain and is also most likely scared and confused. You need to be careful to avoid getting hurt, bitten or scratched.
- Never assume that even the gentlest pet will not bite or scratch if injured. Pain and fear can make animals unpredictable or even dangerous.
- Don’t attempt to hug an injured pet, and always keep your face away from its mouth. Although this may be your first impulse to comfort your pet, it might only scare the animal more or cause them pain.
- Perform any examination slowly and gently. Stop if your animal becomes more agitated.
- Call your veterinarian or an emergency veterinary clinic before you move your pet so they can be ready for you when you arrive.
- If necessary and if your pet is not vomiting, place a muzzle on the pet to reduce the chances you’ll be bitten.
- Dogs may be muzzled with towels, stockings or gauze rolls.
- Cats and other small animals may be wrapped in a towel to restrain them, but make sure your pet is not wrapped in the towel too tightly and its nose is uncovered so it can breathe.
NEVER muzzle your pet if it is vomiting.
- If possible, try to stabilize injuries before moving an injured animal by splinting or bandaging them.
- While transporting your injured pet, keep it confined in a small area to reduce the risk of additional injury. Pet carriers work well, or you can use a box or other container (but make sure your pet has enough air). For larger dogs, you can use a board, toboggan/sled, door, throw rug, blanket or something similar to act as a stretcher.
- You should always keep your pet’s medical records in a safe, easily accessible place. Bring these with you when you take your dog for emergency treatment.
(Source: American Veterinary Medical Association)
Emergencies come in many forms, and they may require anything from a brief absence from your home to permanent evacuation. Each type of disaster requires different measures to keep your pets safe. The best thing you can do for yourself and your pets is to be prepared.
Step 1: Get a Rescue Alert Sticker
This easy-to-use sticker will let people know that pets are inside your home. Make sure it is visible to rescue workers, and that it includes 1) the types and number of pets in your household; 2) the name of your veterinarian; and 3) your veterinarian’s phone number. If you must evacuate with your pets, and if time allows, write “EVACUATED” across the stickers. Click here to order your sticker from the ASPCA.
Step 2: Arrange a Safe Haven
Arrange a safe haven for your pets in the event of evacuation. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND. Remember, if it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pets. They may become trapped or escape and be exposed to numerous life-threatening hazards. Note that not all Red Cross disaster shelters accept pets, so it is imperative that you have determined where you will bring your pets ahead of time:
- Contact your veterinarian for a list of preferred boarding kennels and facilities.
- Ask your local animal shelter if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets.
- Identify hotels or motels outside of your immediate area that accept pets.
- Ask friends and relatives outside your immediate area if they would be willing to take in your pet.
Step 3: Prepare Emergency Supplies and Traveling Kits
Keep an Evac-Pack and supplies handy for your pets. Make sure that everyone in the family knows where it is. This kit should be clearly labeled and easy to carry. Items to consider keeping in or near your pack include:
- Pet first-aid kit and guide book (ask your vet what to include, or visit the ASPCA Store to buy one online)
- 3-7 days’ worth of canned (pop-top) or dry food (be sure to rotate every two months)
- Disposable litter trays (aluminum roasting pans are perfect)
- Litter or paper toweling
- Liquid dish soap and disinfectant
- Disposable garbage bags for clean-up
- Pet feeding dishes
- Extra collar or harness as well as an extra leash
- Photocopies of medical records and a waterproof container with a two-week supply of any medicine your pet requires (Remember, food and medications need to be rotated out of your emergency kit—otherwise they may go bad or become useless.)
- Bottled water, at least 7 days’ worth for each person and pet (store in a cool, dry place and replace every two months)
- A traveling bag, crate or sturdy carrier, ideally one for each pet
- Blanket (for scooping up a fearful pet)
- Recent photos of your pets (in case you are separated and need to make “Lost” posters)
- Especially for cats: Pillowcase or EvackSack, toys, scoopable litter
- Especially for dogs: Extra leash, toys and chew toys, a week’s worth of cage liner.
You should also have an emergency kit for the human members of the family. Items to include: Batteries, duct tape, flashlight, radio, multi-tool, tarp, rope, permanent marker, spray paint, baby wipes, protective clothing and footwear, extra cash, rescue whistle, important phone numbers, extra medication and copies of medical and insurance information.
Step 4: Choose “Designated Caregivers”
This step will take considerable time and thought. When choosing a temporary caregiver, consider someone who lives close to your residence. He or she should be someone who is generally home during the day while you are at work or has easy access to your home. A set of keys should be given to this trusted individual. This may work well with neighbors who have pets of their own—you may even swap responsibilities, depending upon who has accessibility.
When selecting a permanent caregiver, you’ll need to consider other criteria. This is a person to whom you are entrusting the care of your pet in the event that something should happen to you. When selecting this “foster parent,” consider people who have met your pet and have successfully cared for animals in the past. Be sure to discuss your expectations at length with a permanent caregiver, so he or she understands the responsibility of caring for your pet.
Step 5: Evacuation Preparation
If you must evacuate your home in a crisis, plan for the worst-case scenario. If you think you may be gone for only a day, assume that you may not be allowed to return for several weeks. When recommendations for evacuation have been announced, follow the instructions of local and state officials. To minimize evacuation time, take these simple steps:
- Store an emergency kit and leashes as close to an exit as possible.
- Make sure all pets wear collars and tags with up-to-date identification. Your pet’s ID tag should contain his name, telephone number, and any urgent medical needs. Be sure to write your pet’s name, your name and contact information on your pet’s carrier.
- The ASPCA recommends microchipping your pet as a more permanent form of identification. A microchip is implanted in the animal’s shoulder area, and can be read by scanner at most animal shelters.
- Always bring pets indoors at the first sign or warning of a storm or disaster. Pets can become disoriented and wander away from home during a crisis.
- Consider your evacuation route and call ahead to make arrangements for boarding your pet outside of the danger zone at the first sign of disaster.
Step 6: Geographic and Climatic Considerations
Do you live in an area that is prone to certain natural catastrophes, such as tornadoes, earthquakes or floods? If so, you should plan accordingly.
- Determine well in advance which rooms offer safe havens. These rooms should be clear of hazards such as windows, flying debris, etc.
- Choose easy-to-clean areas such as utility rooms, bathrooms, and basements as safe zones.
- Access to a supply of fresh water is particularly important. In areas that may lose electricity, fill up bathtubs and sinks ahead of time to ensure that you have access to water during a power outage or other crises.
- In the event of flooding, go to the highest location in your home, or a room that has access to counters or high shelves where your animals can take shelter.
If emergency officials recommend that you stay in your home, it’s crucial that you keep your pets with you. Keep your Evac-Pack and supplies close at hand. Your pets may become stressed during the in-house confinement, so you may consider crating them for safety and comfort.
The ASPCA The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals National Headquarters 424 E. 92nd St. New York, NY 10128-6804 (212) 876-7700 www.aspca.org
424 East 92nd St.
New York, NY 10128-6804