Everyone wants to imagine their travel experiences as positive and happy events, unfortunately there are emergency situations that can arise whenever you are traveling. Being prepared is often the difference between the situation being an emergency that can be handled or escalating to a crisis that results in much more serious consequences. Pet owners can really prepare themselves in advance for many emergency situations that will help in ensuring the best possible outcome for your dog in any type of event or circumstance.
Travel First Aid Kits
One of the best ways to prevent emergency situations from becoming more of a problem than they need to be is to be prepared with the supplies you will need. Administering first aid to your dog is really not that much different from caring for an injured person in an emergency, all you are doing is keeping the dog stabilized and safe until you can get them to a vet.
Having the basic first aid supplies for your pet in your vehicle and your house is a great idea. These kits can be purchased from most vets and pet stores and are small, easy to store and very compact. They are also available online from different pet retailers and even some animal supply stores. A first aid kit for dogs should include:
Sterile gauze pads
Vetwrap bandage or long gauze for wrapping leg, tail or body wounds
Needle and thread (surgical)
Antibiotic/antibacterial spray, liquid or cream
Antiseptic wound cleaner
Styptic powder to stop bleeding
Cotton balls and swabs
Hydrogen peroxide - for inducing vomiting when poison has been ingested and wound cleaning
Medications your dog is on
Bottled water for wound flushing and rehydration of the dog
You can always add more items such as a nylon muzzle, towels, assorted bandages and even hot and cold packs, however the list above will get you through the basics.
Take A Pet First Aid Class
Lots of vet clinics, pet stores and even kennels offer a pet first aid class that may last from a few hours to a complete weekend or series of evening classes. This is a great activity for the whole family as it helps children understand how to help parents care for the dog in an emergency situation. Most classes will cover how to restrain a dog correctly and safely, cleaning and bandaging wounds, removing foreign materials from the eye, splinting broken limbs and how to recognize the signs of shock and treat your dog. Classes will also cover common health issues such as heatstroke, choking and even how to help your dog if it has consumed toxic or poisonous materials.
Learn How To Give CPR To Your Dog
This may be addressed in a pet first aid class, however you can also research this topic on the internet or in a dog health book. Basically it is similar to human CPR including heart massage and breathing into the dog's nostrils to keep oxygen supplied to the brain until the dog starts breathing on its own.
The basic method is to start with your dog on his or her right side, left side up, and check just behind the elbow on the rib cage for a heartbeat. If one is not present, start with the cardio first by firmly pressing down with your palm or your fingers six times, one each second, over the heart. Provide enough pressure to depress the rib cage but not enough to break or damage the ribs. Small and toy dogs may only require one or two fingers to exert pressure, large breeds may need your full hand. If, after six depressions there is no heartbeat keep repeating, but put one breath in between each set of six depressions.
To help your dog breathe extend the head, check the mouth and remove all objects and ensure the tongue is flat along the bottom of the mouth. Keep the dog on his or her right side and cup your hands over the nostrils and around the mouth, holding it closed. Breath into the nostrils through your cupped hands to make the chest rise, usually about three seconds of strong forced air, but there will be much less breath required for small and toy breeds.
Keep repeating the six cardio presses and one breath until the dog responds or help arrives. A good idea is to print out a chart of how to give CPR to your pet and keep it in the emergency kit. Since this is something you will rarely if ever use it is easy to forget over time.
Keep Phone Numbers Handy
Never count on your own memory in times of emergencies and crisis situations. Have your vet's number written down in the emergency first aid kit, along with a number to a poison control center and an alternative 24-hour vet clinic. If you are traveling outside of your local area get numbers for at least one vet and one 24-hour clinic in the area you are traveling. It is often critical to have a vet provide information to you over the phone to ensure that the situation is handled correctly. If you have to wait to call your vet, then he or she has to contact another vet in your current area the time loss can mean the difference between life and death. Your vet may be able to recommend a vet in the area where you are traveling so don't be afraid to ask. After all your vet is just as concerned about your pet's health and safety as you are, so asking for a reference is normal and expected.
If you are providing any kind of first aid to an unknown dog or even to your own pet, remember that they are in pain and perhaps in shock, and they may respond to your assistance by biting, fighting you or trying to run away. It is always essential to restrain the dog, including using a muzzle, to prevent injuries to yourself or others that are trying to help.