Thursday, January 21, 2010

cat first aid and what you need to know to be prepared

When your pet has an emergency, being prepared is very important.
Before an emergency strikes, be sure you know how your veterinarian
handles emergencies or where you should go if you have one. For
example, some veterinarians always have someone on call, while others
use special emergency hospitals for things that arise after hours.
AAHA-accredited hospitals are required to provide 24-hour-a-day
emergency care in one way or another. You can also stay prepared for
emergencies by putting together a pet first-aid kit.

We cannot stress enough that you SHOULD NOT get on-line during a pet
emergency or when your pet is seriously ill. In an emergency, first
aid is not a substitute for veterinary treatment. However, before you
are able to get your pet to a veterinarian, knowing some basic first
aid can help. Always seek veterinary care following first-aid

Bite Wounds
Approach the pet carefully to avoid getting bitten. Muzzle the animal.
Check the wound for contamination or debris. If significant debris is
present, then clean the wound with large amounts of saline or balanced
electrolyte solution. If these are not available, then regular water
may be used. Wrap large open wounds to keep them clean. Apply pressure
to profusely bleeding wounds. Do not use a tourniquet. Wear gloves
when possible.

Bite wounds often become infected and need professional care. Call
your veterinarian.

Apply firm, direct pressure over the bleeding area until the bleeding
stops. Hold the pressure for at least 10 straight minutes (continually
releasing the pressure to check the wound will hamper the clotting).
Avoid bandages that cut off circulation.

Call your veterinarian immediately.

Breathing Stops
Check to see if the animal is choking on a foreign object. If an
animal is not breathing, place it on a firm surface with its left side
up. Check for a heartbeat by listening at the area where the elbow
touches the chest. If you hear a heartbeat but not breathing, close
the animal's mouth and breathe directly into its nose--not the
mouth--until the chest expands. Repeat 12 to 15 times per minute. If
there is no pulse, apply heart massage at the same time. The heart is
located in the lower half of the chest, behind the elbow of the front
left leg. Place one hand below the heart to support the chest. Place
other hand over the heart and compress gently. To massage the hearts
of cats and other tiny pets, compress the chest with the thumb and
forefingers of one hand. Apply heart massage 80-120 times per minute
for larger animals and 100-150 per minute for smaller ones. Alternate
heart massage with breathing.

Please note: Even in the hands of well-trained veterinary health
professionals, the success of resuscitation is very low overall.
Success may be slightly higher in the cases of drowning or electrical

Call your veterinarian immediately.

(Chemical, electrical, or heat including from a heating pad) Symptoms:
singed hair, blistering, swelling, redness of skin. Flush the burn
immediately with large amounts of cool, running water. Apply an ice
pack for 15-20 minutes. Do not place an ice pack directly on the skin.
Wrap the pack in a light towel or other cover. If the animal has large
quantities of dry chemicals on its skin, brush them off. Water may
activate some dry chemicals.

Call your veterinarian immediately.

Symptoms include difficulty breathing, excessive pawing at the mouth,
blue lips and tongue. Be sure to protect yourself as well as the
animal, as the pet will likely be frantic and may be more likely to
bite. If the pet can still partially breathe, it's best to keep the
animal calm and get to a veterinarian as quickly as possible. Look
into the mouth to see if foreign object in throat is visible. If you
can, clear the airway by removing the object with pliers or tweezers,
being careful not to push it farther down the throat. If it is lodged
too deep or if the pet collapses, then place your hands on both sides
of the animal's rib cage and apply firm, quick pressure. Or place the
animal on its side and strike the side of the rib cage firmly with the
palm of your hand three or four times. Repeat this procedure until the
object is dislodged or you arrive at the veterinarian's office.

Call your veterinarian immediately.

Withhold food for 12-24 hours, but not water. Sometimes pets that
appear to be straining are sore from diarrhea rather than from
constipation. Your veterinarian can help you decide which it is and
what will help. Trying at-home treatments without knowing the real
cause can just make things worse.

Call your veterinarian.

Symptoms include pain, inability to use a limb, or limb at odd angle.
Muzzle the pet and look for bleeding. If you can control bleeding
without causing more injury, then do so. Watch for signs of shock. DO
NOT TRY TO SET THE FRACTURE by pulling or tugging on the limb.
Transport the pet to the veterinarian immediately, supporting the
injured part as best you can.

Symptoms include rapid or labored breathing, vomiting, high body
temperature, collapse. Place the animal in a tub of cool water. Or,
gently soak the animal with a garden hose or wrap it in a cool, wet
towel. Do not overcool the animal. Stop cooling when rectal
temperature reaches 103 degrees Fahrenheit.

Call veterinarian immediately.

Symptoms include vomiting, convulsions, diarrhea, salivation,
weakness, depression, pain. Record what the pet ingested and how much.
Immediately call your veterinarian or poison control center. Do not
induce vomiting. In case of toxins or chemicals on the skin from oils,
paints, insecticides and other contact irritants, request directions
on if and how to wash the toxin off.

Symptoms include salivation, loss of control of urine or stool,
violent muscle twitching, loss of consciousness. Move the pet away
from any objects that could be harmful during the seizure. Use a
blanket for padding and protection. Do not put yourself at risk by
restraining the pet during the seizure. Time the seizure. They usually
last only 2 to 3 minutes. Afterwards, keep the animal calm and quiet.

Call your veterinarian immediately.

Symptoms include irregular breathing, dilated pupils. Shock may occur
as a result of a serious injury or fright. Keep the animal gently
restrained, quiet, and warm, with the lower body elevated.

Call your veterinarian immediately.

Withhold food for 12-24 hours. Give the pet ice cubes for two hours
after vomiting stops, then slowly increase the amount of water and
foods given over a 24-hour period.

Call your veterinarian.

If you need to muzzle your pet use a strip of soft cloth, rope,
necktie, or nylon stocking. Wrap around the nose, under the chin and
tie behind the ears. Care must be taken when handling weak or injured
pets. Even normally docile pets will bite when in pain. Allow the pet
to pant after handling by loosening or removing the muzzle. Do not use
a muzzle in a case of vomiting. Cats and small pets may be difficult
to muzzle. A towel placed around the head will help control small

If your pet can't walk A door, board, blanket, or floor mat can be
used as a stretcher to transport injured or weak animals.

If your pet's emergency is not covered here, please call your
veterinarian immediately. If you are away from home, you can find a
veterinarian near you by using the AAHA-accredited hospital directory.

Click here for instructive videos by the Cornell Feline Health Center
on giving your cat a pill, capsule or liquid medication.

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