Are You Prepared for a Pet Emergency? Follow These Do's and Don'ts

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Accidents can happen to any pet — whether he's a couch potato or an adventurous, outdoorsy type.

It doesn’t matter if your pet is a couch potato or the adventurous, outdoorsy type: Every home should have a pet first-aid kit to help save valuable time — and possibly your pet’s life — in case of an emergency.


Store your first-aid kit in a secure area, and make sure your family members know it’s there. Using a plastic container is a convenient way to store the supplies, and you can easily pack the kit into the car when traveling with your furry friend. Choose a container with a tight-fitting lid so pets and children can’t access the supplies.

Once your kit is assembled, follow these do’s and don’ts to help you take appropriate action and provide the best level of emergency care for your pets.


Do: Call your veterinarian before starting any first aid if you suspect your pet has been injured or is acting ill. In most cases, beginning home treatment can delay life-saving procedures at the veterinarian’s office.

Do: Take your pet’s vital signs. Your pet’s gums, or mucous membranes, can tell us a lot about her health. So take a peek at her normal, healthy gums, and note the color and condition of the tissue. Doing so will help you identify any future changes, such as pale gums, deep red tissue, or discoloration.


You can also learn to take your pet’s temperature in the case of potential heat stroke or hypothermia. Normal body temperature for dogs and cats is 100 to 103 degrees Fahrenheit. See your veterinarian immediately if the temperature falls below 98.5 degrees or is higher than 104.5 degrees.

Finally, look for changes in respiration, including excessive panting or rapid breathing. If you notice these signs, call your veterinarian immediately.


Don’t: Handle sick or injured pets more than you absolutely need to. Distressed pets are more likely to bite, so in many cases, gently transporting a sick or injured pet immediately to a veterinary facility is the best way to get timely care without agitating your pet or sustaining an injury yourself.

Don’t: Induce vomiting before talking to your veterinarian first. Vomiting certain toxic or corrosive materials can make your pet’s condition worse.


Don’t: Administer any medications without consulting your veterinarian. Many medications, including common pain relievers, can cause poisoning in pets or are dangerous when administered to pets inappropriately.

Do: Follow up with your vet. Even if your pet’s condition didn’t require immediate medical attention, your vet should examine your pet to help ensure no further care is needed.


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