First Aid for Your Pet
This article contains a summary of first aid tips for pet owners. Such tips may help to save a pet’s life during an emergency situation prior to a veterinary visit! Any stressful situation can alter a pet’s normal temperature, heart or respiratory rate.
The vital signs of dogs and cats are as follows:
Dogs and Cats: 101-102.5° Fahrenheit
*Temperatures less than 99° or greater than 103° Fahrenheit considered abnormal. A human rectal thermometer works best.
Dogs: 70-160 beats/minute
Cats: 160-240 beats/minute
*Note: The heart is located just behind the bent left elbow on the rib cage. The heart rate can be counted by placing a hand on that portion of the rib cage.
Dogs: 10-30 breaths/minute
Cats: 20-30 breaths/minute
*Simple ways to count an animal’s respiration include: observing the in/outward movement over the animal’s rib cage or placing a wet finger in front of the pet’s nostrils.
In order to perform CPR on an animal, the patient must be on its side, with the right side down. Obstructions should be removed from the mouth. This is accomplished by pulling the tongue forward while extending the neck. If the air-way is clear, close the animal’s jaws over the tongue. Breathe into both nostrils for at least 5-6 breaths. Continue if there is no respiration.
Less than 10 Pounds: 30+ breaths/minute
11-60 Pounds: 16-20 breaths/minute
Greater than 60 Pounds: 12 breaths/minute
If there is no pulse (heart beat), begin cardiac compressions by depressing the widest part of the chest wall using one or both hands.
Less than 1-5 Pounds: Place hands around the rib cage to apply cardiac massage.
1-5 Pounds: 120-140 times/minute
11-60 Pounds: 80-100 times/minute
Greater than 60 Pounds: 60 times/minute
Possible causes of unconsciousness include: trauma, drug ingestion, electrocution and near-drowning. Steps owners can take in such situations may help to save an animal’s life.
- Drug Ingestion:
- Near Drowning:
If the owner notices any bleeding, a clean cloth, towel or gauze may be applied over the area. Pressure should be applied to the area. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, consider the animal has an arterial bleed. Arterial blood will “spurt” and will be bright red. It will be difficult to stop bleeding. This requires immediate veterinary attention.
Find the open bottle of medication or poison and take it along with you to your veterinarian.
Poison Control Hotline: 1-800-213-6680
If electrical shock is suspected, do not touch the animal until the pet is no longer in contact with the electrical source. (See under Topics section Winter-Warmth for more details).
If drowning is suspected, make sure the lung fields are clear. This can be done by lifting the animal’s hindquarters above the head while squeezing the chest firmly until the fluid stops coming out. Owners may notice a moist cough, blue gums and tongue, difficulty breathing as well as bleeding from the nose.
Immediate veterinary attention should be sought.
Animals suspected of choking will have difficulty breathing and may be observed pawing at the face and mouth> Potential causes of choking include: bones, needles, toys, food and plant material. Usually the object will be lodged in the throat, esophagus or teeth. Animals having an allergic reaction may also exhibit signs of choking.
Owners should pull the tongue forward and inspect the mouth and throat for the foreign object. If the object is obtainable, it can be removed with pliers or tweezers. But be very careful not to push the object deeper into the throat. If the object cannot be removed, seek veterinary attention immediately. If the animal is not breathing, begin CPR.
Hopefully none of the aforementioned incidences will occur in your home. But if they do, you will be prepared in how to handle them!