When living with a companion animal, most people assume that they will have to take their pet to a veterinary practice at least once a year for vaccinations and worming treatments. What not many owners seem to realize is that their relationship with a living being may be affected by accidents or unexpected problems and that they may have to act during an emergency. Many things could go wrong. Multiple factors usually come together for an accident to happen. But if it does, how should you react?
There are many books containing information that is more or less technical and that instructs us on how to perform cardiac massage on a dog or what to do with a cat that has just fallen from a balcony. Information that is plentiful and cold but... do you know what is the best thing you can do for your pet in case of accident? It is very simple: stay calm and have professional assistance handy.
This is easy to say, but on occasion it seems impossible. A veterinary practice is not always nearby when an accident happens. This is why it is indispensable to have your usual veterinary surgeon’s and the nearest emergency veterinary practice telephone numbers at home and memorized on your mobile phone. If you are leaving on a trip, you should gather this information beforehand.
If you are faced with an emergency, the first thing to do is to stay calm and try to calm your pet. It is sometimes impossible to help an animal that is in pain. An injured person is more or less able to follow the instructions of those who try to help. A dog that has suffered an accident may bite its owner. An injured animal does not understand what is happening and is not able to help very much.
You should immediately focus on the animal, talking to it quietly and calmly, and assess its condition: Is it breathing? Is it conscious? Is it bleeding? Where are its injuries? Has it any broken bones? Is it able to stand up?
If the animal lets you handle it, you should use common sense: apply pressure to a haemorrhaging injury, do not move a limb that is obviously broken, do not try to remove stuck foreign objects. You should try to ease the most serious problems with a minimum of movements and actions.
In general, and to summarize, you should try to keep the animal as you found it, move it gently and do not try to “set” or “remove” anything. Get in touch immediately with your vet or with an emergency practice. A professional will tell you what to do: he will be your hands, and you will be his eyes.
So, which is the best thing to have in a first-aid kit? There is no doubt that a telephone able to put you in touch with a professional.
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Colegio Oficial de Veterinarios de Alicante
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