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Pet First Aid Awareness Month

By Colleen Williams
April 3, 2017 • 3 min. read
dog at the vet

Last updated April 9, 2021

The American Red Cross doesn’t just help humans in need; they also have a ton of resources dedicated to Pet Disaster Preparedness. For the month of April, we’re all encouraged to brush up on emergency planning for ourselves and our furry friends.

Here’s what to know to prepare yourself to handle a pet emergency:

Know the Signs of Poison

Sometimes you aren’t sure what toxic material your pup or cat ingested, so know the signs: dilated pupils, drooling or foaming at the mouth, seizures, and abnormal behavior. Sometimes there is even bleeding.

Watch for Dehydration

A quick test to see if your pet is dehydrated: pull up on the skin between the shoulder blades. If it doesn’t spring back and stays “tented,” this is a sign of dehydration. If your pet is dehydrated, they will need to see a vet immediately for IV fluids.

What to do in the Events of a Seizure

Keep the pet in a safe place but do not restrain them. Keep hands away from the mouth because they could accidentally bite.

Know the Signs Heatstroke

Signs of heatstroke or heat exhaustion include collapse, excessive panting, difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, bloody diarrhea and vomiting, wobbly walking, and a body temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or above.

Treating Wounds, Broken Bones, or Bleeding

Go to the veterinary hospital as soon as possible. Pets bitten by other animals need vet attention to prevent infections and to check for internal wounds. If your pet is bleeding, apply direct pressure using gauze, and if the gauze soaks completely through, do not remove it – simply add more gauze on top of it until you get to the vet hospital.

Responding to an Accident

From electrocution to falls, you may need to perform CPR before taking your pet to the vet, or simply wrap the animal up and keep calm and quiet until an expert can treat them. The Red Cross recommends learning animal CPR and how to provide basic first aid—it can save your pet’s life until veterinary care is available.

Planning for Natural Disasters

Have a plan should a weather emergency or an earthquake strike. Should you need to evacuate, know that most Red Cross shelters cannot accept pets because of health and safety concerns, however they will always accept service animals. Your evacuation plan will need to be pet-friendly.

Protect your Pet from Wildfire Smoke

With wildfires becoming more regular each summer, it’s important to keep your pet safe from hazardous air conditions.

As a pet health insurance company, we know all too well the accidents and illnesses that can occur at any time, without warning, and being prepared is the first line of defense. Insuring your pet can help immensely should you need expensive emergency vet care, but also, taking a minute to go over pet first aid can save your dog or cat should the worst happen.

Keep the following two things on hand just in case:

  1. Phone numbers to your regular veterinarian, animal emergency hospital and poison control. Your pet insurance policy number and information is all set in the Healthy Paws mobile app.
  2. Your pet first aid kit, including food and drinking water, as well as any medications.

Pets are a big part of our family and they trust us to take care of them, so do as much as possible to prevent at-home incidents: keep dogs leashed when walking to avoid car accidents and other altercations, and keep your cats indoors. Visit your vet annually for vaccines and general wellness. And while you certainly can’t prevent natural disasters, you can be prepared for any calamities that include your furry friends.

colleen williams
By Colleen Williams

Over the past decade, Colleen has written about health, wellness, beauty, and even pets for The New York Times, The Cut, Refinery29, xoVain, Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, and Seattle Met Magazine, as well as many beauty brands. She has a BFA in Art History from the University of New Mexico and an AAS in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design in New York.

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