Neuse River Golden Retiever Rescue
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Neuse River Golden Retiever Rescue

I need a working siren, Pet First Aid and Emergency Transport

by Katie McKay | Jun 04, 2020

Nothing quite excites a pet owner like the prospect of a holiday or weekend in the emergency room. Frantic and frequent trips to the vet at 4 o’clock in the afternoon on a Friday because that box from Amazon disappeared and was filled with my weekly order of chocolate can happen anytime, but summer brings its own set of emergency hurdles. Summertime our regular routines are disrupted and accidentally leaving the front door open can mean medical mishaps and accidents. Emergencies with our dogs can range from snake bites and bee stings to bleeding and seizures. While one size certainly does not fit all, you can build a pretty good first aid kit to handle some of the more minor injuries or to stabilize your pet if you need to transport them safely to the vet. Your regular old band aids are probably not going to cut it if you have a furry, fuzzy golden retriever. At our house, we have a special cupboard in the bathroom filled with wraps and tapes, washes and squeezy bottles, we call this Triage. Over the years of fostering for a lot of dogs needing medical management, we have put together quite the Pet First Aid Kit and boy is it handy!

As part of your new age Pet First Aid kit, I want to tell you about this AWESOME APP from The Red Cross3. Maybe you are walking along, and your dog suddenly seems tired, but you don’t know if he is just tired or if he is showing early signs of heat exhaustion. Unless you happen to have an emergency veterinary textbook on hand, you might not know. Thanks to The Red Cross, you can get some immediate reassurance right from your smartphone2. Pet First Aid-American Red CrossI can not say enough good things about this app. It has everything! Learn what is normal for essential vital signs like respiratory rate, body temperature and capillary refill time. Watch videos on how to check for the ABCs, airway, breathing and circulation and address minor wounds, snake bites, frostbite, and even tick removal! The videos on the proper way to do CPR and performing the Heimlich maneuver on your dog are excellent and believe me there are some scary bad ones out there. There are quizzes you can take to test your knowledge and keep it fresh in your mind. Even better, this is all free. I downloaded this app (Android and iOS) and was literally giddy with the information at my fingertips. Their first aid supply list is extensive and thorough, you’ll be ready for that attack of murder hornets in no time.

Some emergencies are obvious, hit by a car, choking, a large cut or bleeding, but sometimes you look directly at your dog laying under the table (where he never lays) and say, “why do you look weird?” You have googled his symptoms and totally freaked yourself out, what do you do next? Pet First Aid! Grab your smartphone and work through the instructions of the app on how to check vital signs. If everything is normal, you can continue to watch your pet and keep checking vitals every 20-30 minutes and avoid an emergency room bill for something like your dog eating too much rabbit poop. But when you find that your dog has say, an increased respiratory rate, a weak pulse and blue gums, you know immediately you need to get to the emergency room fast. How do you get there safely? Great question and one I think there isn’t a lot of information about out there. (Thanks for the question Jane!)

Here are some good general rules for handling the transport portion of this wild Friday evening.

  1. Approach your dog calmly, kneel down and talk to them. Are they unconscious, responsive, aggressive? You may need to call for help.
  2. Take a moment to stabilize them, elevate any bleeding, check their mouth for items that may cause choking, check the area for evidence of what happened (snakes, elevated surfaces indicating a fall, packaging that could mean poisoning, etc).
  3. If it can be safely done and not restrict breathing, muzzle your dog. If he/she is in severe pain, this will keep you and the vet staff from getting injured accidentally.
  4. Handle them as little as possible, especially if you suspect they may have a back or neck injury. Large pieces of plywood or even an ironing board works great to slide them on and prevent further injury. Remember to secure them to the board, vet wrap is great for this!
  5. Let your dog lay however they are comfortable, but if he/she is unconscious, make sure the head is positioned normally and not bend up or down. This can impede blood flow to and from the brain.
  6. If your dog is vomiting, make sure their head is below their heart to prevent choking. Important fact! Dogs can vomit even if they are unconscious, therefore its helpful to have a friend ride along.
  7. Keep a blanket in your first aid kit. Not only are they handy for moving your dog, they prevent heat loss (a result of shock) and can be used as support around your dog while in transport.
  8. Always keep your vet records on hand! There are many apps to help with this but having records with you and calling ahead to the emergency vet can save precious minutes.
  9. If you suspect a poisoning, call Pet Poison Control. Expect about a $65 charge for this call but if they recommend that you head to the emergency room, make sure you get a case number. Giving this number to the emergency vet ensures you do not get charged again for him to make this call.

There are some special circumstances when dealing with a dog who is having a seizure. It is important to keep these in mind to keep you and your dog from becoming injured further.

  1. If your dog is having a seizure and it lasts < 3-4 minutes, you should wait until the seizure is over to transport your dog safely to the vet. If your dog is not recovering or has multiple seizures, then take them to the vet right away
  2. Do not muzzle seizing dogs, they can aspirate and choke.
  3. Dogs can spike high temperatures during seizures, so skip the blanket. Instead use a throw rug or a toboggan/sled. On the flip side of that coin, do not try to cool them down, they can aspirate and drown.
  4. Seizures can happen in clusters, confining your dog during transport keeps the drive and your pet safe.

My car is already red, but I may just have to stick my head out the window, BEE BOO BEE BOO BEE BOO. I hope you found these tips helpful and that visual hysterical. Below are a couple links to previous posts where my dogs had an encounter with the dreaded Fire Ant and another blog with pictures on how to check vital signs. 

Cheers and may you have a very quiet and restful Friday night.


Fire Pants

What’s Normal? First Aid Safety with Gracie Lou

  2. OR text GETPET to 90999
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