In July 2008, Sugar, a Jack Russell Terrier, gobbled down a whole turtle. That might not have been a problem if she hadn’t failed to properly chew and swallow a huge chunk of that turtle’s shell.
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For two days, this dog could not breathe properly. Further problems arose when the x-rays and other tests missed this significant obstacle to Sugar’s breathing. All because of one wrongly chewed turtle.
This peculiar incident was just one of the many pet health insurance claims made that year. And it was not even the most ludicrous.
As a pet owner, you probably gasped and maybe even giggled a little at that tale. Could it be because it is highly relatable?
Like little kids, our pets like to explore. An exception may be cats that prefer to watch but even can get into a surprising amount of trouble. Dogs especially are known for their almost comical inability to stay away from things that intrigue them. You will often find them swallowing, touching, biting, and chewing. Many of the objects of these actions are those that should never go in a dog’s mouth or be held by a paw but they do it anyway.
What do you do when your sugar swallows something it shouldn’t and starts choking on it? What if your spaniel burns itself on one of its many wild adventures? Do you have a well-equipped first-aid box for when your bulldog gets caught in a dangerous spot and cuts itself?
If you don’t, read on to find out how to get started and be armed for any injuries your pet may sustain. Even if you already do, you may learn a few things you didn’t know.
Ten Must-Have Items in Your Pet First-Aid Box
Here are ten essential items that should be present in your pet’s first-aid box:
- A pet first-aid manual: Even if you have all the other items in the box, without these, your well-equipped first-aid kit may go to waste. Unless you are a vet, have previous experience in canine emergencies, or have taken a first-aid class, this particular item is a must-have. A pet first-aid handbook will help you make the right decisions in the face of any emergency. To help you further, we will be mentioning common approaches to basic pet injuries later in this article.
- Your pet’s paperwork: This includes vaccination papers, emergency phone numbers, medical records, a veterinarian’s contact, and your pet’s license. Suppose your dog sustains an injury in an unfamiliar place and you find more experienced personnel to handle the situation. In that case, this paperwork will be necessary for it to be given medical attention. It is tempting to just depend on your devices, but emergencies come with a lot of extra baggage. This makes it advisable to have a hardcopy backup of all these papers.
- A towel or blanket: Just like us, when our canine friends are injured and panicked, the warm embrace of a blanket can be soothing and remind us that we are going to be okay. Apart from the calming effect that a towel may have, it can also be useful in preventing your pet from developing hypothermia or going into shock. Hypothermia involves poor blood circulation, which can be life-threatening. Always have a towel or blanket in your first-aid kit. You can do one better and get a thermal blanket instead. Thermal blankets are warm and waterproof. They are also more portable, hence, easier to fit in a box.
- Hydrogen peroxide: This solution is often used to clean wounds before dressing them, but it can serve another purpose. If your dog swallows something it shouldn’t have, you can use hydrogen peroxide to get it to vomit the ingested substance. Inducing vomit is not always the ideal solution when your pet swallows a toxic substance. It should only be employed under appropriate guidance or according to the rules of a credible handbook. When induced vomiting is allowed, the proper dose is usually one teaspoon per five pounds of body weight. Three tablespoons are the maximum amount, even for dogs that weigh more than forty-five pounds.
- Elastic Bandage: This is extremely important, especially considering the multiple purposes it can serve. Elastic bandages can be used to stop excessive bleeding, to support weakened muscles, or as padding for splints. It is best to use cohesive bandages like Hampton Adams’ because they only stick to themselves. This will prevent your pet from experiencing excessive pain when you want to remove the bandage. Lastly, bandages and gauze can also be used as makeshift muzzles when your pet gets frantic or aggressive.
- Antibiotic ointment: Even if your first-aid kit is the simplest one ever to exist, this is one item it must not fail to have. Minor cuts and scrapes may not look like much but if they get infected, they can pose a huge problem. This item should be available in your box to prevent such an occurrence. Do not apply an antibiotic ointment to an open bloody wound. Try to rinse and blot it a little before applying. A common antibiotic ointment is Neosporin.
- Wet wipes: Also known as grooming wipes, these can also come in handy when your dog has to do number two. As for their main function in the first-aid box, wet wipes can be used to clean a wound so that you can get a better look. A wound may be covered in dirt and feces that can make it look worse than it is. These substances can also cause an infection if left on for too long.
- Cold and/or hot packs: As is the same in our case, compression packs can be used to relieve pain and reduce inflammation in pets as well. You can always carry both a cold pack and a hot pack along for the ride. An ice pack is best suited for recent acute injuries, but you may need to alternate. Instant ice packs are because they do not need refrigeration but rather only a vigorous shaking to be activated.
- Clotting powder: The sheer amount of blood oozing out of a wound can make it seem worse than it is. This seemingly escalating situation can induce panic, but it shouldn’t. All you need is to apply a little styptic powder or collagen hydrolysate to the wound. Both of these substances are antiseptic clotting agents that you can apply with a cotton swab or spoon. You can also use a styptic pencil which is easier to apply.
- Other tools: Other items you should have in your pet first aid box include tweezers, scissors, splints, gauze, rubber gloves, saline solutions, comfort items, food, collapsible water bowls, a flashlight, medical tape, and medications. A comfort item and some comfort goods are perfect for relaxing your pet after a very stressful injury. It is about introducing something familiar in a stressful situation; it may be necessary when you want to keep your pet in one position so you can administer treatment.
First-aid Treatment for Common Pet Injuries
First-Aid Treatment for Difficult Breathing
It won’t be hard to notice if your pet is having difficulty breathing. It would probably lie in one position and breathe noisily. This can be a terrifying situation, but keep calm and call a vet. Before the vet arrives, you can check to see if you can find the source of the problem. Your pet may have swallowed an inedible object which is now obstructing its respiratory pathway. If it is something this obvious, you can easily remove it. After this, wait for the vet to arrive or give further directions. If your pet stops breathing, give CPR.
First-Aid Treatment for Bite Wounds
Unlike other injuries where the opposite is usually true, bite wounds are often more serious than they look. If your dog has been bitten, especially if it’s by a snake, get it treated as soon as possible. If the wound is small and only bleeding a little, you can rinse it yourself. After this, clean and dress the wound. You should still get a vet to look at this bite wound even when it seems insignificant.
If the wound is bleeding excessively, apply pressure to the area with a clean dressing and get to the vet. In the case that some parts of your pet’s skin have been removed due to the bite, cover the wound without applying pressure. Then, get to a veterinarian as soon as you can.
First-Aid Treatment for Broken Bones
Broken bones are often the result of high-impact accidents. So, if your pet has broken bones, it may have other injuries. Check for these first. Try not to move the pet around excessively, as this can be very painful. Pale gums may indicate that it has lost a lot of blood. There is not much you can do by yourself for a broken bone. Just try not to aggravate the injury. Cover any open wounds, apply light pressure to a bleeding spot, and get to the vet ASAP.
Hampton Adams is a good place to start if you are worried about getting some of the items mentioned above, like tape, ice packs, heat packs, or even bandages.