First Aid for Your Pet
We are available 24 hours a day. If you are not sure if your pet needs to be seen, call us! One of the biggest mistakes owners make is to wait several days before bringing their sick pet in. Treatment is much more successful if started early! Don't forget those rabies vaccines! The first one should be given at 4 months of age, boostered in 1 year, then every 2 years (according to West Virginia law) or every 3 years in Virginia.
Approach pet carefully (especially if animal is unknown to you). Use a muzzle if possible (you can use a purchased one or you can make one from a length of gauze tied around the muzzle, crossed under chin, then tied behind the head). If the animal is unknown to you or aggressive, call for professional help! A large blanket thrown over the animal's head is also a good protective measure.
Clean the wound with large amounts of water. Trim hair around the wound if possible. Wrap large open wounds to keep them clean. Apply pressure to profusely bleeding wounds. Do not use tourniquets. Bite wounds often become infected and need professional care, especially if the wound is bleeding or contaminated. Call your veterinarian!
Apply firm, direct pressure over the bleeding area. Avoid bandages that cut off circulation. Call your vet immediately if bleeding does not stop. If blood is found in urine or bowel movements or hemorrhage is noticed under skin, call your veterinarian immediately. These symptoms can indicate life-threatening illnesses such as hemolytic anemia or rat poisoning.
Symptoms (difficulty breathing, excessive pawing at mouth, blue lips and tongue)
Look into mouth for foreign object-remove with tweezers or pliers to clear airway. If the object remains lodged, place your hands on both sides of the animal's rib cage and apply firm, quick pressure to expel if from the throat. Or place animal on its side and strike the rib cage firmly with the palm of your hand three or four times. Repeat either procedure until the object is dislodged. Call the vet immediately, even if you were able to remove the object.
If Pet Stops Breathing
Check to see if the animal is choking on a foreign object. Place on firm surface with left side up. Check for a pulse by feeling for a heartbeat. To locate the optimal spot, gently bend pet's elbow until it touches the ribs. This is the best place for detecting heart sounds. If you find a pulse but no breathing, close the animal's mouth and breathe directly into its nose (not the mouth) until the chest expands.
Repeat 12-15 times per minute. At the same time, if there is no pulse, apply heart massage (over the lower half of the chest behind the elbow of the left front leg). Place one hand under the animal to support the chest and place the other hand over the heart. Compress the chest gently. Cats and tiny pets may receive heart massage by compressing chest with the thumb and forefingers of one hand. Apply heart massage 70-90 times per minute and alternate with breathing. Call your veterinarian immediately. Do not delay.
Burns (chemical, electrical, heat)
Flush the burned area immediately with large amounts of cool water. Apply an ice pack wrapped in a towel for 15-20 minutes. Call your vet immediately.
Heat Stroke (rapid or difficult breathing, vomiting, collapse, high temperature, glazed stare).
Place animal in a tub of tepid water (not cold, which can cause shock). Call your vet immediately and take dog to the hospital. This is an emergency. Heat stroke can cause irreparable neurologic damage.
Record what the pet ingested and how much (if known). Call your veterinarian or National Animal Poison Control Center (800-548-2423) immediately. Do not induce vomiting until instructed. In case of skin poisoning, wash with mild soap and flush well with water.
Withhold food for 12-24 hours. If vomiting stops, give ice cubes for several hours. If no vomiting occurs, give small amounts of water, then food. If vomiting persists, call your veterinarian.
Broken bones (non-weight bearing, dangling limb, pain on movement)
If your pet has been injured and you suspect broken bones, call your veterinarian immediately. If the fracture is on the lower part of the leg, a splint may be used to immobilize it for transport, but in most cases, it is better to wrap the pet in a blanket and take it to the vet immediately. If the pet is in a lot of pain, it is a good idea to use a muzzle to avoid being bitten. Remember, even the nicest pet may bite when it is in pain.
Withhold food for 24 hours, give plenty of water. Chicken and rice is a good bland diet for diarrhea. If diarrhea persists, or is accompanied by vomiting, lethargy, or abdominal pain, call your veterinarian immediately.