First Aid for Pet Medical Emergencies

To avoid the feelings of panic that may occur when your furry companion is having a medical emergency, we recommend the following steps to better prepare yourself.

Always remember that any first aid administered to your pet should be followed by immediate veterinary attention. First aid care is not a substitute for veterinary care, but it may save your pet’s life until it receives veterinary treatment.

Seizures / Convulsions
Symptoms include: salivation, loss of control of urine or stool, violent muscle twitching, loss of consciousness.
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Keep your pet away from any objects (including furniture) that might hurt it. Do not try to restrain the pet. Take note of the length and time of seizures.

After the seizure has stopped, keep your pet warm and transport your pet to the vet as soon as possible.

Wounds and Bleeding (external)
Approach the pet carefully to avoid getting bitten. If your pet is aggressive as a result of the injuries, apply a muzzle. With a clean piece of material or bandage apply pressure over profusely bleeding wounds with your hand until the blood starts clotting. This will often take several minutes. Hold pressure on the wound for a minimum of 3 minutes and then check it. If the wound is on the legs and it is bleeding severely, apply a tourniquet (using an elastic band or gauze) between the wound and the body. Loosen the tourniquet for 20 seconds every 15–20 minutes. Severe bleeding can
be life-threatening.

Symptoms include: rapid or laboured breathing, vomiting, high body temperature, collapse.
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Gently soak the animal with a garden hose or wrap it in a cool, wet towel (pay attention to the abdomen and between the hind legs), use your hands to massage its legs and sweep the water away as it absorbs the body heat. Do not overcool the animal. Stop cooling when rectal temperature reaches (Dogs = 37 degrees and Cats = 38 degrees).

Transport the pet to a TAH veterinarian as soon as possible.

(Chemical, electrical, or heat including from a heating pad).

Symptoms include: singed hair, blistering, swelling, redness of skin.

Flush the burn immediately with large amounts of cool, running water but if the animal has large quantities of dry chemicals on its skin, brush them off. Water may activate some dry chemicals. Apply an ice pack for 15-20 minutes. Do not place an ice pack directly on the skin. Wrap the pack in a light towel or other cover. Call your veterinarian immediately.
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It is extremely important to immobilise the spine of a suddenly paralyzed pet before and during transportation.

Remember in all the abovementioned cases it is important to get your pet to the vet for emergency treatment.
Tygerberg Animal Hospital has a 24-hour emergency hospital which can be contacted on 021 91 911 91.

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