Revised First Aid Guidelines from the American Veterinary Medical Association and PSVC – Part 1 of 2
ALWAYS REMEMBER that any first aid administered to your pet should be followed by immediate veterinary care. First aid care is not a substitute for veterinary care, but it may save your pet’s life until he/she receives veterinary treatment.
FOR YOUR SAFETY If your pet is injured, he/she is likely in pain, scared, and confused. Be careful to avoid getting hurt, bitten or scratched.
- Never assume that even the most gentle pet will not bite or scratch if injured. Pain and fear can make animals unpredictable or even dangerous.
- Don’t attempt to hug an injured pet, and always keep your face away from its mouth. Although this may be your first impulse to comfort your pet, it might only scare them more or cause them pain.
- Perform any examination slowly and gently. Stop if your pet becomes more agitated.
- Drive carefully to the veterinary clinic. Panicked or out-of-control driving puts you and your pet at risk.
IF YOUR PET IS CHOKING Choking pets have difficulty breathing, paw excessively at their mouths, make choking sounds when breathing or coughing, and may have blue-tinged lips or tongue.
- If your pet can still breathe, keep him/her calm and seek immediate veterinary care.
- Look into your pet’s mouth to see if a foreign object is visible. If you see an object, gently try to remove it with pliers or tweezers, but be careful not to push the object further down the throat. If it’s not easy to reach-don’t delay; get your pet to a veterinarian immediately.
- If you can’t remove the object or your pet collapses, place both hands on the side of your pet’s rib cage and apply firm quick pressure, or lay your pet on his/her side and strike the rib cage firmly with the palm of your hand 3-4 times to sharply push air out of their lungs and push the object out from behind. Repeat this until the object is dislodged or until you arrive at the veterinarian’s office.
IF YOUR PET IS NOT BREATHING
- Open your pet’s airway by gently grasping its tongue and pulling it forward (out of the mouth) until it is flat. Check the throat to see if there are any foreign objects blocking the airway.
- Perform rescue breathing by holding your pet’s mouth closed with your hand and breathing directly into its nose until you see the chest expand. Once the chest expands, continue administering one rescue breath every 4-5 seconds.
IF YOUR PET HAS NO HEARTBEAT Do not begin chest compressions until you’ve secured an airway and started rescue breathing.
- Gently lay your pet on its right side on a firm surface. The heart is located on the left side in the lower half of the chest, just behind the elbow of the front left leg. Place one hand underneath the pet’s chest for support and the other hand over the heart.
- For dogs, press down with quick, firm pressure to depress the chest one inch for medium-sized dogs. Use more force for larger animals and less force for smaller animals.
- For cats and other small pets, cradle your hand around the animal’s chest so your thumb is on the left side of the chest and your fingers are on the right side of the chest, and compress the chest by squeezing it between your thumb and fingers.
- Press down 80-120 times per minute for larger animals and 100-150 times per minute for smaller ones (less than 25 lbs).
- Alternate the chest compressions with the rescue breaths: perform chest compressions for 4-5 seconds and stop long enough to give one rescue breath.
- Continue until you can hear a heartbeat and your pet is breathing regularly, or you have arrived at the veterinary clinic and they can take over the resuscitation attempts.
Please remember that your pet’s likelihood of surviving with resuscitation is very low. However, in an emergency it may give your pet his/her only chance.
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