DO’s and DON’Ts in first aid

Preparing for a medical emergency involving your pet is always best accomplished before the event takes place. Dr. Shailesh Ingole guides you for important decisions about first aid and also when to take your pet quickly to a veterinary hospital. An awareness of various first aid measures can help the owners to save their pets’ valuable life. Let’s see how.

Abscess:

It is localised accumulation of pus which is caused by an infection introduced from bites or penetrating wounds. It may appear as a painful swelling or if ruptured, as a draining wound.

  • If ruptured, clean the wound with soap and water. Rinse well and pat dry.
  • If there is swelling, hot fomentation can be done for 10 to 15 minutes. Repeat 3 to 4 times daily.
  • Get it examined by a veterinarian.
  • Do not attempt to open the abscess yourself.

Wound bandaging:

Bandages are used for various reasons i.e. to protect wounds from dirt, to discourage the pet from licking the wound, as support for sprains or to prevent motion etc. For all these reasons, proper application is important. First step in proper bandaging is careful cleaning of the wound. All dirt, dried blood should be washed with soap and water. Hair should be clipped and then patted dry.

  • After cleaning the wound, the contact layer is the first layer applied and it should be sterile, stay in close contact but should not stick the wound, should be absorbent and free of fibres.
  • After cleaning the wound, apply an antibiotic ointment and then place the contact layer.
  • After the contact layer, apply the second absorbent layer to hold the contact layer. This layer is usually a cotton material. It is important to use the proper size as the materials that are too narrow may cause a tourniquet effect if wound causes swelling. If materials are too wide then they are difficult to apply. Any wrinkles may cause the bandage to become uncomfortable for your pet.
  • Finally apply the outer layer i.e. porous adhesive tape or elastic tape. Do not pull elastic tapes beyond their limits as this will result in bandage failure. The tape should be in contact with the skin or hair at the bandage margins.
  • Bandages should be checked regularly for signs of swelling, odor, discoloration of skin, saturation of bandage etc and then should be changed. Draining wounds bandage should be changed every 3 to 4 hours, otherwise every 24 hours.

Insect bites :

Any insect can cause problems if they bite your pet. A bite causes swelling, redness and itching. Certain bites can cause swelling in the face.

  • Apply cold fomentation to the sting area.
  • To neutralize the acidic venom, apply a paste of baking soda and water to the sting area.
  • Do not administer any medications without contact-ing your veterinarian.

Bleeding:

Pets suffer blood loss as a result of trauma. If bleeding is severe or continuous, the animal may lose enough blood to cause death. Pet owners should know how to stop bleeding if their pet is injured.

  • Apply direct pressure by gently pressing gauze over the bleeding area, absorbing the blood and allowing it to clot. Do not disturb blood clots. If gauze is not available, then bare hand or finger can be used.
  • If there is severe bleeding wound on the foot or leg, gently elevate the leg so that the wound is above the level of the heart. This will slow down the bleeding and simultaneously apply direct pressure to maximise the use of elevation.
  • The pressure above and below the wound can also be applied along with direct pressure. The pressure above the wound will help to control arterial bleeding, whereas pressure below the wound will control the bleeding from veins.
  • Internal bleeding is a life threatening condition and is not visible on the outside. However, some of the external signs observed include pet becomes pale and pet is cool on legs, ears or tail. If any of these signs are evident, the pet should be immediately taken to the veterinary clinic.

Burns:

When heat, flame, chemicals or electricity causes injury, do the following:

  • Extinguish all flames.
  • For thermal or electrical burns, immediately apply cold water compresses to the site of injury, changing them frequently to keep the site cool. Transport your pet to the veterinary clinic as soon as possible.

(Dr. Shailesh D. Ingole is working as an Associate Professor at Bombay Veterinary College, Mumbai and practicing at Pets Care Centre, Mumbai. He can be reached at: Clinic: 24440486, Mobile: 9821097256, Resi: 28676080.)

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