April is National Pet First Aid Awareness Month
Many of us know emergency and first-aid tips and actions for humans. But what about for our furry family members?
It’s important to know that a dog’s body temperature is usually 5 degrees higher than ours, so they can overheat and develop deadly heat stroke very quickly. The American Red Cross suggests pet parents know the signs of heat stroke. They include:
- Heavy panting and being unable to calm down, even when lying down.
- The pet’s gums may be brick red, they may have a fast pulse rate, or they may not be able to get up.
If you are concerned that your pet has heat stroke, take the animal’s temperature rectally. If the temperature is above 105 degrees Fahrenheit, cool the animal down with a water hose or in the bathtub with cool water. When the animal’s body temp falls to 103 degrees, you can stop cooling the animal. Immediately bring the pet to a veterinarian for future treatment and evaluation. Heat stroke can severely damage organs and even cause death.
The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends pet owners put together a pet emergency/first-aid kit. In addition to an extra leash and a current photo of the pet, a first-aid kit should include:
- Phone numbers for your veterinary hospital, an emergency vet clinic and the Animal Poison Control hotline (1-888-4ANI-HELP)
- Gauze to wrap wounds or as a muzzle
- Non-stick bandages, towels or stripes of clean cloth (cut-up old t-shirts work well)
- Adhesive tape (not human bandages)
- Milk of magnesia or activated charcoal to absorb poison (though check with your vet or poison control before any treatment)
- Hydrogen peroxide (to induce vomiting)
- A digital thermometer (to rectally take temperature)
- A large syringe (to flush out wounds/eyes)
The Red Cross also offers pet first-aid and other animal-related training. For more information, visit redcross.org/training or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.
April is also Lyme Disease Awareness Month
According to the North Shore Animal League, keeping dogs and cats away from tall grass and wooded areas may reduce their exposure to ticks. Checking each animal thoroughly after coming in from a walk may also help you spot ticks before they latch on or before they have a chance to bite.
In addition to a variety of flea-and-tick preventatives on the market, as well as Lyme Disease vaccines, available from veterinary practices. Ask your vet to recommend the best choice for you and your pet. Blood work can determine whether your pet has been infected; usually a month-long course of antibiotic will kill the bacteria that causes the infection.