April 1st generally goes hand-in-hand with practical jokes and pranks, but safety is nothing to joke about. April 1st marks the beginning of Pet First Aid Awareness Month. How prepared are you for an emergency situation with your pet? What if you aren’t able to get your beloved pet to the vet quickly enough?
Pet first aid is important for any pet owner to know, it can help save your pets life if you are unable to seek professional care immediately. Many of us take the time to learn infant and child first aid, so why not do the same when we bring another family member into the household? Every week this month we will be posting a blog on pet safety. Because in the onset of an emergency, it is important to be able to act quickly and efficiently. Having the proper knowledge and skills to react in these situations will also help to alleviate much of the panic and stress pet owners often experience.
Dogs don’t have fingers to investigate things they find, they are more likely to chew and gnaw on inedible items. Sometimes pups get so excited that they don’t take time to enjoy a chew; they just swallow them whole. Sticks, rocks, balls & plastic are major culprits of choking incidents. While choking can’t always be prevented among our fur babies, there are some precautions you can take. Always throw away a bone or toy when it becomes small enough to be a choking hazard. You know your pet best, you be the judge. Here are a few tips to help.
Choking – Similar to people, if your pet starts choking he/she will gag, retch, and cough to try and get the object out. Other symptoms may include breathing difficulty, anxiety, and the gums turning white or blue.
- Use both hands to open the mouth, with one hand on the upper jaw and the other on the lower.
- Grasping the jaws, press the lips over the dog’s teeth so that they are between the teeth and your fingers.
- Look inside the mouth and remove the obstruction with your fingers.
- If you can’t move the object with your fingers, use a flat spoon handle to pry it away from the teeth or roof of the mouth.
If the dog is still choking and you can’t see anything in the mouth, or the dog has fallen unconscious, follow these guidelines.
For a small dog: Carefully invert your dog and apply pressure to the abdomen just below the rib cage.
For a large dog: Do not try to pick up a large dog; you’re likely to do further damage due to the animals size. Instead, perform the equivalent of the Heimlich maneuver.
- If the dog is standing, put your arms around their belly, joining your hands. Make a fist and push firmly up and forward, just behind the ribcage. Place the dog on their side afterward.
- If the dog is lying down, place one hand on the back for support and use the other hand to squeeze the abdomen upwards and forwards.
- Check the dog's mouth and remove any objects that may have been dislodged with your fingers.
Sweep the mouth again, but be aware of a firm structure in the throat called the hyoid apparatus. Pulling on this could cause severe injury. If the object hasn’t loosened, seek immediate veterinary help. You should be prepared to repeat treatment again in the car, and be ready to administer artificial respiration if your pet stops breathing.
Look for next weeks blog. We will give you tips on wound care.