The best way to be prepared to recognize and respond to an emergency is to know how your pet usually looks and acts, and to be aware of what situations constitute an emergency. Always try and remain calm as this helps the animal involved in the emergency.
ASSESSING THE EMERGENCY SCENE
When approaching an emergency, look around for potential hazards that may still exist. For example, if an animal has been hit by a car, before running into the street to help, make sure no other cars are approaching. If your pet is engaged in a fight, don’t place any part of your body between the two animals or you are apt to become the next victim.
The following situations should be considered emergencies:-
- Trauma. Examples include an animal hit by a car, a gunshot wound or an animal fallen from a building or other significant height.
- Difficult breathing.
- Fits, particularly a first fit, fits lasting more than two minutes and fits recurring repeatedly (one after the other).
- Cuts and gashes that expose internal structures.
- Excessive bleeding such as spurting blood, bleeding that is prolonged or that you cannot stop by applying direct pressure.
- Snake bites.
- Heat stroke (hyperthermia) or hypothermia (low body temperature).
- Open wounds with visible bone or severe tissue damage.
- Problems giving birth.
- Profuse diarrhoea or vomiting.
- Straining to urinate or defaecate.
- Painful, enlarged abdomen.
- Severe depression (characterized by hiding, unresponsiveness or refusing to eat).
WHAT TO DO WITH THE ANIMAL
The pet that has any of the above symptoms should be transported to the Veterinarian as quickly as possible. Always phone ahead to inform the clinic of your situation and estimated time of arrival. This will ensure you are given priority over non urgent cases. Pressure bandages should be applied over bleeding wounds and if possible the animal should be placed on a stretcher or in a secure container. If an animal is in pain they can become aggressive and it is important to keep all people involved safe.
Wrapping the animal (especially the head area) with a big blanket often helps calm the pet and also reduces the chance of getting bitten yourself. Sometimes a muzzle is necessary to prevent biting and this can be made from a bandage or long piece of cloth-it needs to be tied tight around the muzzle. Emergency situations can be very stressful particularly if it is your pet involved. Try to stay as calm as possible as animals pick up very quickly on peoples emotions.