Pet First Aid: 5 Things Every Dog and Cat Owner Should Know

More on PawNation: National Pet First Aid Month, NationalPetFirstAidMonth, pet first aid, pet health, PetFirstAid, PetHealth

Pet first aidadria.richards, Flickr

No matter how careful we are as pet owners, dogs and cats sometimes still manage to cut themselves, get overheated and eat things they really shouldn't. In honor of National Pet First Aid Awareness month, we at Paw Nation want to help you be prepared should trouble strike.

We asked Dr. Elisa Mazzaferro, Director of Emergency Services at Wheat Ridge Animal Hospital in Colorado, and the official veterinarian of Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl VI what she recommends you do in these five common situations:

1. Treating A Cut or Scratched Paw
"One of the most important things clients can do if injury is on the animal's paw is to put pressure on it with a clean towel and bring the pet into the nearest veterinary hospital," Dr. Mazzaferro tells Paw Nation. Don't apply a tourniquet because it can decrease blood supply to the injured limb and be dangerous. And you should probably avoid rinsing a wounded paw in water. "Sometimes that will release a blood clot that's formed." says Dr. Mazzaferro.

2. Evaluating Vomiting and Diarrhea
"If your pet's vomiting or diarrhea occurs more than just a couple of times, or if there is blood in it, or any suspicion of the dog or cat having gotten into a toxin, the pet needs to be seen by a veterinarian right away," says Dr. Mazzaferro. Otherwise, if vomiting occurs just a couple of times, withhold food and water for at least six hours and see if the condition subsides. "If they continue to vomit or become lethargic, or if they're a puppy or a very small, toy breed dog, I would bring them into a vet because they can dehydrate quickly," says Dr. Mazzaferro

3. Dealing With Heatstroke
Heatstroke is especially a risk during summer months. Signs include panting, increased respiratory sounds, collapse, seizure, vomiting and bloody diarrhea. "Get the animal away from the heat immediately," says Dr. Mazzaferro. "Soak towels in room temperature or tepid water -- not cold water or ice – and place the wet towels over the dog and put a fan in the room to allow ambient cooling." Put the towels over the dog's torso, over their back, chest and abdomen. "The mistake people make is dousing the animal in ice-cold water, and that can actually cause the blood vessels in the skin to constrict and it could cause the animal's core temperature to rise and make the temperature worse," says Dr. Mazzaferro. "The most important thing is to get the animal to the vet. They may need intravenous fluids if they're severely dehydrated."

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