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In the case of a medical emergency, preparation and education can help you stabilize your pet until you can obtain appropriate veterinary medical attention. Please remember that first aid is not a substitute for veterinary treatment, however some simple first aid measures can provide a necessary and life-saving remedy until medical help can be reached. Always seek veterinary care for you pet following any first-aid attempts. Here are a few tips for keeping your pet safe in case of an emergency.

1) Create a pet first aid kit. This kit should include:

  • small bandage scissors
  • tweezers an eyedropper
  • sterile eyewash
  • latex gloves
  • mild anti-bacterial soap
  • non-adherent gauze pads
  • gauze rolls
  • 3-inch Ace self-adhering athletic bandage
  • bandage tape
  • alcohol prep pads
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • triple antibiotic ointment or cream
  • a cold pack
  • a digital rectal thermometer
  • styptic powder/cornstarch/or cooking flour for broken toenails
  • a blanket or towel
  • a soft muzzle
  • A basic first aid book will supply the minimal treatment plans needed for most emergencies.

2) Make a phone list. Post important contact information in a prominent place, including the phone number and driving directions to our hospital, the phone number and directions to the nearest emergency clinic, and the number of an animal poison control center. It is a good idea to keep this information inside of your pet first aid kit as well.

  • Merrick Veterinary Group - (516)-379-6200
  • Nassau Animal Emergency Group - (516)-333-6262
  • A.S.P.C.A. Poison Control - 1-888-426-4435

3) Create a medical file. Keep important information regarding your dog or cat's medical history accessible. Be sure to include any major medical conditions, and all types of medication or supplements your pet may be taking. This will be very helpful in situations (like vacationing or travel) if you can't take your dog or cat to your regular veterinarian.

4) Learn pet CPR. Take a class, and keep step-by-step instructions with your first aid kit for easy access. If you are interested in upcoming classes, follow this link to the Long Island Rescue Services website. A Pet First Aid course is being offered on April 25, 2008 and again on June 20, 2008. Keep checking back with their website for any additional pet first aid courses offered throughout the rest of 2008. 

5) Know the normal vital statistics for dogs and cats.

Normal resting pulse and heart rate:

Cats: 150-200 bpm
Small dogs: 90-120 bpm
Medium dogs: 70-110 bpm
Large dogs: 60-90 bpm
Pulse should be strong, regular and easy to locate.

Checking the pulse
The easiest place to locate a pulse is the femoral artery in the groin area. Place your fingers on the inside of the hind leg and slide your hand upward until the back of your fingers touches the abdomen. Apply gentle pressure while lightly sliding your fingers back and forth on the inside of the hind leg until you feel the pulsing blood. Count the number of pulses in 15 seconds and multiply that number by 4. This will give you the beats per minute (bpm).

Temperature
Normal rectal temperature for dogs and cats: 100-102.5 degrees
Thermometer should be almost clean when removed.
Abnormalities are indicated by blood, diarrhea, or black, tarry stool.

6) Be attentive. Noting sudden changes in your pet's behavior and taking preventative measure before problems escalate can save your pet's life.

7) Remain calm, and don't panic. When you are calm, so is your pet. Your pet is counting on you to remain level-headed and focus on providing the necessary attention and care.

8) Get a friend to help. As you prepare to bring you pet to the clinic, ask someone else to call our hospital. Now you can focus on administering first aid, such as applying direct pressure to a wound to stop bleeding, and/or assessing the best way to move your pet without causing further pain or injury.

9)
Handle with Care. Carefully restrain an injured pet, not only for your safety, but for his as well. Even the friendliest pet can bite or scratch when scared and injured. Use a muzzle on a dog unless it is unconscious, has difficulty breathing, or has a mouth injury. Use an e-collar or a carrier for cats; muzzles can inhibit their breathing and create additional stress.

10) Seek veterinary help!  Below is a list of medical conditions or signs that indicate a true emergency where veterinary assistance is needed immediately.

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bleeding from any location that does not stop
  • Bloated/swollen/distended abdomen with or without vomiting
  • Inability to urinate or defecate despite repeated attempts to try
  • Inability to deliver puppies or kittens
  • Weakness or collapse
  • Loss of balance or consciousness
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Major trauma (eg. hit by a car)
  • Penetrating wounds
  • Severe or continuous pain
  • Heat Stroke
  • Ingested poison
  • Lameness/limping, not able to bear weight on a limb
  • Vomiting or diarrhea with blood, or violent episodes
  • Eye injuries of any kind


If your pet has any of the above conditions seek veterinary attention immediately. If you're unsure whether a situation constitutes an emergency, contact us by calling 516-379-6200. Our helpful staff can help you better assess the situation and give you further instructions. The earlier the problem is identified and the appropriate treatment is started, the better the outcome will be.


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