Emergencies happen when you least expect them and often when you’re least prepared. If you have a plan before it happens, it can be much less stressful and your pet can receive more timely care. Find out your veterinary clinic hours and their policy for emergencies. There are emergency clinics that are open after hours and staffed through the night. Your veterinarian will advise which is the closest and their hours. Have the number of your veterinarian handy in your phone, as well as the number and address of the nearest emergency clinic.
If your pet has been seriously injured you need to be careful in approaching them. As much as they love you, in a stressed and painful incident they may bite. Gently wrap them in a blanket to keep them warm and protect yourself and try to stay away from their mouth. If they are trying to bite you can place a muzzle or gentle tie around their mouth – as long as it doesn’t restrict breathing. Try to keep them from moving – especially if bleeding, fractures or neurological signs are present. You may want to use a board or plank to move them to a vehicle. Call your veterinarian or emergency clinic to let them know you are on your way. Your pet may be in shock and need immediate treatment. Signs of shock are shivering, rapid breathing, elevated heart rate and pale mucus membranes (the pink colour of their gums).
Remember your ABC’s for first aid treatment.
- Check they have an open airway – remove any debris blocking their airway carefully – again they might bite.
- Check for breathing – if they are unconscious and not breathing you can perform rescue breathing. Use either a resuscitation mask or cup your hands around their mouth and breath into their mouth. You should see their chest rise with the breaths – if not reposition and repeat.
- Cardiac – check for a pulse (the inner thigh) or heart beat over the chest. If not present you may do chest compressions. Lay your dog on its right side and compress the chest by 30%. Repeat 3-5 times and follow with 2 breaths. Seek urgent care.
If your pet is bleeding place a clean compress – a towel or cloth can be used. Apply pressure and keep the compress in place until seen by a veterinarian. Try to have any cuts or wounds seen within 2 – 4 hours to decrease the risk of infection and need of surgery.
Injuries to eye can be very serious and need to be seen by a veterinarian immediately. Don’t let your pet rub at a sore eye. Place an Elizabethan collar to protect the eye until seen. Early intervention could save their sight.
If your pet seizures – the whole body is shaking/trembling, they are not aware of their surroundings, often lying on their side contact your veterinarian. They will need to seek immediate treatment for cluster seizures or prolonged seizures (longer than 5 minutes). If your pet is having a seizure move away any objects and place blankets or pillows under and around them. Try to time the seizure.
Above all else, stay calm and have your pet examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible.