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April: Pet First Aid Awareness Month

Have you ever asked yourself if you know the signs of poisoning in your pet? Or what to do if your pet has a seizure? If your pet needs it, do you know how to perform basic CPR?

It is so crucial to have some knowledge in pet emergency procedures, so that we can help our furry friends when they are in need. Even if you are driving to the veterinary hospital, having the ability to respond to your pet’s emergency immediately can be life-saving (just as in humans).

Here are some common pet emergencies that you may encounter and how to handle the situation:

Poisoning – i.e. toxic substance ingested

Common poisons

· Marijuana

· Rat bait

· Human-food (i.e. grapes, chocolate)

· Mushrooms

Clinical Signs

· Dilated pupils

· Drooling

· Foaming at the mouth

· Seizures

· Ataxia – stumbling, disorientation, wobbling

· Possible bleeding and/or bruising

· Vomiting

· Diarrhea

· Depression

What to do

· Contact us or an emergency clinic

· Immediately transport your pet to the vet

· Contact Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435

· Keep whatever pet may have ingested (substance itself, the box or container it came in, or take note of the name)

Heat Stroke – i.e. inside a hot car

Clinical Signs

· Heavy panting

· Difficulty breathing

· Fast pulse and heartrate

· Inability to calm down

· Collapsing

· Bloody diarrhea

· Vomiting

· Wobbly or unable to get up

· Bright red gums

What to do

· Apply cool, but not cold, water (water hose, bath, or soaked towels)

· Immediately go to the vet – whether it be us or an emergency clinic


· Do not leave your pets in the car unattended, ever. It can reach temperatures around 100 degrees in about ten minutes on a 75-degree day. According to Accuweather, even 60 degrees is too hot to leave your pets in the car.

· If your pet spends a lot of their time outdoors (especially during sunny or hot days), always provide shelter from the sun and plenty of water. You can also set up pools and/or sprinklers.

· Limit high-intensity exercise in the heat (Brachycephalic, or flat-faced, dogs breeds like pugs or French bulldogs tend to overheat much easier)

· Do not let your pets walk on hot cement – their paws can easily burn. According to Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, if it’s too hot for your hands, then it is too hot for your pet’s paws.


Common causes

· Persistent vomiting and/or diarrhea

· Not enough water intake (especially on a hot day)

· Loss of appetite

· Fever

Clinical Signs

· Pull up the skin between the shoulder blades, and it does not spring back, but stays “tented”

· Tacky (sticky) gums

What to do

· Immediately go to the vet – whether it be us or an emergency clinic or hospital


Clinical Signs - petite

· Dazed

· Disoriented

· Drooling

· Imaginary gum chewing, tail chasing, or flank sucking

· Vocalizing

Clinical Signs – grand mal

· Aura: period of anxiety, hiding, or seeking attention

· Postictal phase: convulsing, paddling, drooling, collapsing, urinating, defecating

· Recovery period: disoriented, aggressive, hungry, confused

What to do

· Do not restrain or move

· Move hazardous objects away from pet

· Avoid mouth area because pet could bite

· Immediately go to an emergency clinic if they have more than one seizure in a row, if it lasts more than 5 minutes, or if it is possible that they got into something (i.e. poisonous substance)

Broken bones or sprains

Clinical Signs

· Refusal to lay or put pressure on limb

· Lumps/bumps that are swollen and painful to the touch

· Excessively licking area

· Limping

· Difficulty getting around

What to do

· Give us a call or call an emergency clinic (if afterhours)

· Try to stabilize the limb with a towel, but watch for biting

· Lift animal into vehicle while on a towel (have someone help you, if possible)

· Keep animal calm and stationary (have someone else drive, if possible) on your way to the veterinary clinic or hospital

Accidents – i.e. falls, electrocution, not breathing, etc.

What to do

· CPR may be needed if animal is not breathing – DoveLewis Veterinary Emergency Hospital provides free community workshops to learn about CPR (among other emergency preparations). Sign up for their newsletter here to get updates on the next workshops.

· Wrap your pet in towel or blanket to keep them calm until you can get to a veterinary professional

· Check for airway obstruction (i.e. toy, bone, cloth)

Information obtained from the following sources:

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