Accidents often turn into emergencies that require an immediate trip to see the vet, but there are many things you can before, during and after to help your pets. I always recommend a call to your vet if you are unsure about any at home care, and in no way are these suggestions a replacement for qualified and professional veterinary care. Stocking a few select items and knowing what to do before an emergency can go a long way and help you keep a calm head in any pet situation. Below are some great tips that can even help your two-legged family members in a minor emergency.
Problem: Nail injury. Dogs and cats can slice up their nails in a variety of ways – everything from a too-close nail trim that nicks the quick, to running outdoors over sharp rocks. Nails also bleed quickly, and can become a bloody mess in no time.
Solution: Styptic powder. If you don’t have styptic powder on hand, for minor bleeding grab either cornstarch or flour from your kitchen, pour some into a small bowl, and dip the injured paw into the powder to stop the bleeding. Try and keep the pet calm and still for at least a few minutes to allow the quick to clot completely once you have applied your powder.
Problem: Bee sting. Most bee stings occur on a paw or the face. Not only are bee stings painful, but your pet could also have an allergic reaction.
Solution: Credit card and quercetin. If you need to remove the bee’s stinger, don’t use tweezers. Use a credit card from your wallet to scrape away the stinger – just make sure the venom sac comes out with it. If your pet has a mild allergic reaction to a bee sting, offer Quercetin (or “natural Benadryl”) if you have it, or real Benadryl if you don’t. Most small dogs will need a very small dose, and no matter what size, it will make your pet drowsy. Serious allergic reactions require an immediate trip to the closest emergency veterinary clinic so look for major swelling, trouble breathing, or paleness of the gums.
Problem: Indiscriminate eating. If your pet has very recently ingested something she shouldn’t, for example, antifreeze or another toxin, you may need to induce vomiting. Always call your vet or an animal poison control hotline if you suspect your pet has swallowed a poison. Some poisons can actually do more damage if they have to come back up from vomiting, so better safe than sorry.
Solution: Hydrogen peroxide. I’m talking about 3% hydrogen peroxide – the kind you purchase at any pharmacy. The dose is one teaspoon for every 10 pounds of body weight. Hydrogen peroxide typically induces vomiting within 15 minutes. If your pet doesn’t vomit within that time, you can give her a second dose, but if another 15-30 minutes passes and she still hasn’t vomited, it’s time to call your veterinarian.
Problem: Cuts and scrapes. Many pets manage to acquire minor cuts and scrapes while running around the backyard or out for a walk. Before dressing you will want to clean the wound to ensure fast healing.
Solution: Contact lens saline solution. You can clean dirt and debris from your pet’s minor wound with regular human contact lens saline solution. You can also use it to flush out dirt, sand or other irritants from your pet’s eye.
Problem: Dangerously low blood sugar in a diabetic pet. If your pet has diabetes mellitus, you’ll want to do everything possible to prevent a hypoglycemia attack that can lead to a diabetic coma.
Solution: Honey. As soon as you see your pet’s lips start to quiver or his body start to shake, you need grab the honey and rub a little on his gums. Make sure to use honey, not corn syrup, which can contain genetically modified and/or allergenic ingredients.
Problem: Thunderstorm phobia. Many pets, especially dogs, fear thunderstorms. But it’s not just the thunder and lightning that makes your dog anxious, it’s also the static electricity that can accumulate in her coat, giving her little electric zaps that are unnerving.
Solution: A steamy room. Pets with thunderstorm phobia often feel more comfortable in a steamy/humid space that removes static from their coat, so try putting your dog (or cat) in the bathroom while running hot water in the shower. Alternatively, you can rub your pet’s coat with a non-toxic dryer sheet for the same effect. Many dryer sheets are loaded with chemicals that shouldn’t remain on the fur, so make sure you’re using chemical free dryer sheets if you choose that solution.
Another solution is a Thunder-shirt. These shirt work with pressure points on the dogs body that send message to the brain, similar to a what a hug does for a person. These shirts work to a varying degree for each dog but usually provide some relief in many stressful situations not just thunderstorms (like a trip to the vet, new visitors in the home and a ride in the car).
Problem: Constipation, diarrhea, hairballs, and other minor digestive issues. Most pets at one time or another experience GI issues that last for a few days and disappear.
Solution: Canned pumpkin or sweet potato. It’s a good idea to keep a can of 100% pumpkin or sweet potato in your kitchen cabinet for occasional mild tummy upsets. Give a teaspoon of pumpkin for every 10 pounds of body weight, one to two times a day, either in food or as a treat. Pumpkin is rich in soluble fiber that can ease both diarrhea and constipation by drawing moisture into the GI tract.
Another solution is to keep prebiotics/probiotics on hand. Regular use of these powerful microbes, can help keep your pets digestive system in top shape, but when there is upset you can double the dose and help get the situation under control quickly. If you pet has a problem that lasts longer than 24-48 hours, or shows other signs of distress (lack of interest in food, unusually bad breath, or just not being their normal selves) contact your vet right away.
Problem: An injured pet that might bite. If your pet is sick or injured, it’s important to protect yourself and anyone else who is handling or caring for him. Even the most passive, gentle pet can bite in response to fear or pain.
Solution: A homemade muzzle. Most owners of easy-going pets don’t even own a muzzle, so if you ever find it necessary to prevent your dog (or even your cat) from biting out of fear or pain, you can quickly improvise a muzzle from a pair of hose/tights, a man’s tie, or any available strip of cloth. The make-shift muzzle is lightly looped over your pet’s nose and mouth, then crossed under the chin, and tied behind the ears.
In most cases of even a minor pet injury or illness, after applying a home remedy, it’s still a good idea to follow up with your veterinarian to insure your dog or cat is receiving appropriate care. Chances are you won’t need an appointment, but your vet may want to note the information in your pet’s chart for follow up at your next regularly scheduled visit or provide you with additional care information.