From time to time, one is in a situation, where an animal suffers a serious injury or has a sudden onset of illness, and veterinary help is not immediately available, or where action is necessary immediately and a time-delay could mean that animals death. The following article is a guide-line only – do not attempt first-aid on animals, if you are at all uncertain of what you are doing, always have a veterinarian check the animal afterwards!!
- Make sure the animal can breath by removing debris from its mouth and gently pulling the tongue forward (be careful, as even the most gentle and loving animals could respond aggressively e.g. bite, in a stressful situation).
- Place the animal in a recovery position, with its left side uppermost, and keep it warm.
- Check for a heartbeat by placing the heel of your hand on the left side of the animals chest, just behind the elbow. Give cardiac massage if you are unable to feel a heartbeat.
- Stop any bleeding.
- Take the animal as quickly as possible to the nearest vet.
Moving an injured animal: An injured animal is likely to bite or scratch – improvise a muzzle if necessary. Use a blanket to lift the animal and if spinal injuries are suspected, carry it carefully on a board to avoid sudden movements.
Bleeding: Unchecked bleeding can quickly lead to shock.
- Surface wounds – apply pressure at the bleeding point with your thumb or place a wad of cotton wool or gauze against the wound and bandage tightly.
- Internal bleeding – the animal will quickly become weak and pale – keep it warm and quiet, minimize movement and get medical attention fast.
Artificial respiration: If an animal has stopped breathing after an accident
or drowning, you may attempt artificial respiration.
- Pull the tongue forward and clear away any debris or obstructions from the mouth. In the case of drowning, turn the animal upside down to drain water from the lungs.
- Lay the animal on its right hand side and extend the head and neck forwards to give a free airway.
- Cup your hands around the animal’s nose and breathe through them into its nostrils for about 3 sec to inflate the lungs – pause for 2 sec then repeat. Carry on till the animal starts to breathe on its own.
Cardiac massage: If the animal’s heart has stopped give cardiac massage at once:
- Place the heel of your hand on the left side of the animal’s chest, just behind the elbow. Place your other hand on top, then press both hands firmly down and forwards towards the animal’s head.
- Rapidly pump the chest 5 times in succession, then blow in the animals nostrils.
- Continue to repeat this sequence – do not abandon your efforts until you feel a faint heartbeat and then continue the sequence.
Burns and scalds: A quick response is needed to limit the extent of skin damage.
- Boiling water or oil: Cool the burnt area by sponging immediately with cold water, do not apply ointment. Cover the area with a wet cloth or apply an icepack, go to the vet at once.
- Chemical burns: Prevent the animal from licking the substance – if necessary muzzle the animal. Sponge the area gently with water to remove all the chemicals. (remember to take the container with to the vet, so that he will know what he is dealing with).
Electrocution: The only sign an owner may see of a minor shock (e.g. after the animal has chewed on an electric cord) is difficulty in breathing shortly afterwards. Check the inside of the mouth and lips for burns – and apply cold water.
More on this subject next month…