The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines emergency as a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action. It sounds scary doesn’t it? Now think of an emergency with your pet, did your anxiety just double? It doesn’t have to if you are prepared for worst-case scenarios that may include your pet.
Know where the closet emergency veterinary hospital is located and what services the offer. What sort of specialty medicine do they offer there? Do they have adequate 24 hour care if needed? Do they have payment plans or other financing options available? Seeing the hospital and meeting some of the staff BEFORE there is a medical emergency can help ease your mind. Once you have chosen an emergency hospital, save their information in your cell phone, and place the same information in an easy-to-spot place in your house incase you are not home during the emergency.
People often call our hospital asking if they should bring their pet in to be seen. My answer is often, “If you are worried enough to call, you are worried enough for your pet to be seen.” Sometimes it’s a minor issue, but sometimes it’s a life threatening issue. Either way, our techs and vets would rather see you fifteen times for something simple, than for you to not come in and have a devastating outcome.
There are a few things you can do at home to assess if your pet is having a medical emergency. Just like humans, every animal is slightly different. It is best to know your animal’s “normal”, so in case of an emergency, you will be able to determine if they are within normal limits for them. Remember, you know your pets best, so if you are uncomfortable with the way they look, bring them in! Nobody ever asks for an emergency to happen, but if you and your pet are prepared, it becomes substantially easier to deal with.
Normal Ranges for Dogs:
- Respiratory Rate (at rest): 10-35 breaths per minute
- Heart rate (at rest): 60-160 beats per minute
- Temperature: 100.0-102.5 F
Normal Ranges for Cats:
- Respiratory rate (at rest): 20-42 breaths per minute
- Heart rate (at rest): 140-220 beats per minute
- Temperature: 100.0-102.5 F
If your pet shows any of the following signs, bring them to the closet emergency veterinary hospital immediately: pale/white/blue/ purple or bright red gums, trouble breathing, uncontrollable bleeding, obvious broken bones, uncontrollable vomiting, sudden collapse, or seizures.
Consider making a basic first aid kit as well as an emergency preparedness kit for you pets. Having these important items handy will be very helpful in case of a natural disaster (see our next blog for information on disaster preparedness for pets) or other unforeseen emergency. Most items needed for your pet’s first aid kit can be found at your local pharmacy. You might also want to speak to your veterinarian about keeping some basic prescription medication in your first aid kit (i.e. medications for sedation, anxiety, allergic reactions, anti-vomiting/diarrhea, etc.) Be sure to contact your veterinarian before administering any medications–even over the counter items!
Basic Items for your Pet First Aid Kit:
- Gauze: for wrapping wounds or muzzling an injured animal
- Nonstick bandages: to control bleeding or protect wounds
- Adhesive tape: for securing the gauze wrap or bandage
- Unopened bottle of hydrogen peroxide (3%); to induce vomiting (always consult with your veterinarian before inducing vomiting!)
- Hand sanitizer: to clean your hands before and after treatment
- Digital thermometer: to be used rectally
- Triple antibiotic ointment: for small cuts or scratches
- Saline: to flush any wounds, or rinse the eyes of debris
- Betadine or Nolvasan (diluted): to clean minor wounds
- Scissors; to cut any bandages
- Disposable gloves: to protect yourself from any bodily fluids
- Bed sheet: to be used as a stretcher to help transport the injured animal
- The name, number, and address of the local emergency veterinary hospital
- ASPCA Poison Control: 1-888-426-4435
– K. L. Mitchell