What are Emergency Situations involving Dogs?
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Emergency Situations involving dogs can be a trying and terrifying time. However, recognizing the signs of an emergency and knowing when to bring your dog into the veterinarian or emergency clinic for care can help save your dog’s life. Taking care to prevent emergencies, provide triage, and buy time can mean the difference to your dog.
An emergency situation is a situation where your dog’s life may be in danger or threatened by a medical condition. There are hundreds of things that may constitute an emergency situation including medical illnesses, reactions to medications, toxicity or poisonings, trauma or injury or bites, stings and wounds from venomous creatures. However, these situations all have common attributes, and much can be done to help prevent, prepare and keep your dog safe during this situation.
An emergency situation usually presents as a series of symptoms your dog shows. For injuries and trauma, you may see a visible limp, larger bleeding wound, discolored body parts or even dislocated or broken limbs. Poisonings and toxicity along with venomous bites may have your dog vomiting, having diarrhea, stumbling around, looking dazed or even having a seizure or coma. Sudden increases in temperature may cause symptoms of shock or heat stroke such as heavy panting, gasping for air, passing out or a spike in internal body temperature.
How can I prevent an emergency situation involving my dog?
Having an emergency preparedness kit for your dog (as well as yourself) is a great way to help prevent emergency situations. Items may include bandaging such as Vet-Wrap to stabilize joints and bones or stop bleeding in wounds. Pain medications or ointments that are dog-safe and in appropriate dosages for your dogs may also help. A bottle of fresh clean water and a few cans of a favorite dog food can also help in a situation where you may need to leave the house or may not be close by to provide care.
Heat stress is one of the most preventable emergency situations. Summer time means that dogs can easily become overheated, especially if left outdoors. Making sure to provide a cool, shaded space to relax, plenty of cool water, and even a few ice cubes, a cooling mat or even a water mister can all help prevent heat stroke and stress before it starts.
Recognizing harmful plants and animals can also help prevent an emergency situation. If you are traveling with your dog in an area where there may be toxic plants or venomous animals, learning about them and learning to recognize them can help you keep your dog out of trouble. You can remove your dog from areas where these creatures may be lurking, possibly preventing a harmful attack.
What should I do if I suspect an emergency situation involving my dog?
Triage is the first step if an emergency is suspected, giving owners critical extra time to get their dogs to the veterinarian. If you are in an area where you cannot immediately get to a vet, several steps can be taken to help your dog. However, if you are close to a veterinarian, the best way to help is to get your dog there immediately!
For heat stroke and heat stress, cooling your dog slowly can help buy some time. Rubbing your dog down with blankets doused in water, or using a mister of cool water can help bring down body temperature safely. Never attempt to submerge your dog in water, or use alcohols for cooling, as they can lead to further shock or injury. Once you are able to safely move your dog, bringing him to the vet for further care will help.
For wounds and injuries, stabilizing the area can help. Bandages can be placed on wounds to provide pressure and stop bleeding, or can be made into a make-shift sling or splint for a broken bone. Large towels or other clothing material can also be turned into a stretcher or placed under your dog’s belly to help your dog walk or get into a car where he can be transported.
There are also several poison hotlines available for pets that can give more information about a potentially toxic substance. While these services do cost money, they can help owners find more information about whether an ingested object will be harmful or not. Your veterinarian can also provide you with this information and can let you know if it is safe to induce vomiting, or if your pet should be brought in immediately. Once at the vet, your veterinarian can help provide life-saving procedures as needed including critical medications, oxygen, anesthesia, surgery and anything else needed.
Natural remedies for different emergencies
Several natural remedies can be used to help treat minor injuries and prevent emergencies. Calendula and Hypercal are useful as salves to treat bleeding and injury that leads to cuts and wounds. Hypericum as a homeopathic ointment is also useful in minor wounds including punctures.
Having a natural remedy kit with your regular emergency kit can be beneficial for treating your dog. If you regularly use any natural remedies for chronic conditions or illnesses, including these in your emergency kit will also help. Finally, learning techniques such as canine CPR may also help in an emergency situation. Knowing when to help and when to bring your pet in for care are the best ways for helping keep your dog safe and happy.