First Aid for Pets

bandaged face cat in a bag

 

 

 

BLOAT

Bloat is a condition where the stomach swells with air and the air becomes trapped. It is associated with over eating or swallowing air such as when your pet is exercised and is trying to pant but gulps air instead. It usually occurs in deep-chested dogs such as Great Danes, Dobermans, gun dogs and the Basset Hound. This condition can be rapidly fatal and your pet should be transported to your veterinarian immediately.

SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS

  • Excessive drooling or salivation.


  • Frequent attempt to vomit but your pet only brings up saliva (white foam) or nothing at all.


  • A swollen distended abdomen.


  • Your pet may appear in pain. It may pace or appear agitated. Its back may be hunched with the head and tail held low.


  • Pale or blue tinged gums but gums can become very red due to blood circulation changes.


  • Signs of shock.


  • Collapse and death.

Once your pet has symptoms of bloat you must transport it urgently to a veterinarian. There is no first aid available for this condition.

PREVENTION

  • If your pet is at risk of bloat (a deep-chested dog) do not exercise your pet after feeding.


  • Divide your pet's food over two or more meals each day.


  • Encourage your dog not to gulp its food. Separating pets at meal times helps to do this.


  • Soaking dry food in water until it softens also encourages slower eating.

CHOKING

SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS

  • Coughing or gagging.


  • Pawing at the mouth.


  • Pale or blue-tinged gums.


  • Distress, your pet may appear frantic.


  • Loss of consciousness.

MANAGEMENT

  • Open your pet's mouth. For a dog:

    • Grasp the upper jaw with one hand over the muzzle.


    • Press the lips over the upper teeth with your fingers on one side and the thumb on the other so that the dog's lips are between its teeth. Firm pressure may be required. The dog then can't close its mouth without biting itself and is less able to bite you.


    • If you can see the object then try to remove it with your fingers.

  • For a cat:

    • Grasp the cat's head so that your palm is over the cat's head, your thumb and index finger are behind the canine (eye or fang) teeth.


    • Tilt the cat's nose upwards. In most cases this causes the cat to automatically relax the jaw muscles so that you can open the mouth.


    • You can then use the index finger on the opposite hand to gently open the mouth. Place the finger tip on the lower incisors (the small teeth between the canines) and gently push the lower jaw down.


    • An alternative is to push your thumb and index finger of the hand holding the cat's head towards each other. Some cats resent this more and it is easier to get bitten but it does hold the mouth open while the opposite hand is now completely free to hold tools etc.


    • Examine the mouth and if you can see the object it may be possible to remove it with your fingers or small pliers. Do not attempt to remove a needle embedded in the roof of the mouth but take your cat to your veterinarian.


    • It may be possible to gently pull the tongue forward but some cats will not allow this.
  • If you can not remove or see the object or your pet is struggling too much to allow you to examine the mouth (and it is small enough) then pick your pet up by its hind legs, turning it upside down and shake. Slapping the back while shaking may to dislodge the object.
DEALING WITH A CHOKING PET

DEALING WITH A CHOKING PET

  • If your pet is too large to pick up or if you still can not dislodge the object lay your pet on its side. For small pets place your palms behind the last rib on both sides of your pet's abdomen and press your palms together quickly 2 - 3 times. Repeat if necessary. For larger dogs place both hands behind the last rib and push down and slightly forward sharply. Repeat rapidly until the object is dislodged.
  • If you still can't remove the object and if your pet can breathe then transport to your veterinarian. However if your pet can't breath you must continue to try to dislodge the object by either of the two methods as your pet is unlikely to survive the delay in reaching veterinary aid.


  • If your pet loses consciousness and is not breathing try resuscitation as you may have moved the object enough start your pet breathing again.


  • Once the object has been expelled check your pet is breathing and has a heart beat and start resuscitation if necessary.

CONVULSIONS / SEIZURES - FITTING

Convulsions can be due to epilepsy, poisons or body system failures such as kidney failure. Fits can be brief or may be continuous. Fitting can deprive the body of oxygen or cause the body to overheat (both lead to death). If your pet fits for more than 5 minutes or has several fits close together it is important to see a veterinarian immediately.

SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS

  • Your pet will fall on its side often with back rigid and neck arched.


  • Your pet may twitch uncontrollably or paddle its legs like it is trying to run but it is on its side.


  • Froth from the mouth. It may be bloodstained if your pet bites its tongue or the inside of its mouth.


  • Your pet may urinate or defaecate without being aware of it.


  • Your pet will not be responsive to you during the fit.


  • After the fit your pet may appeared dazed and confused. It may pace and be unresponsive to you initially. Also your pet may be hungry.


  • Once recovered your pet may appear very tired and sleep deeply.

MANAGEMENT

  • Do not place anything in your pet's mouth.


  • Pull your pet away from anything that may injury your pet such as furniture, or move these objects out of the way, but otherwise leave your pet alone.


  • Do not offer food or water to your pet until after you have sought veterinary advice.

DIABETIC COMA

Diabetes (Lort Smith's article is excellent, Diabetes mellitus) occurs when the pancreas does not provide enough insulin so that the blood sugar level becomes too high. It is common in dogs and less common in cats. In our pets diabetes requires insulin injections to maintain life.

There are two types of emergencies - low blood sugar and high blood sugar. Low blood sugar is the more common emergency.

LOW BLOOD SUGAR - CAUSES

  • Too much insulin given.


  • A missed meal.


  • Unaccustomed exercise.


  • Another illness that interferes with your pet eating or its insulin/glucose metabolism.

SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS

  • Weakness, trembling or shaking, wobbly gait.


  • Your pet may appear disorientated or behave oddly. It may become aggressive.


  • Your pet may appear to go into shock with pale gums and a weak rapid pulse.


  • If left untreated your pet may go into a coma.

MANAGEMENT

  • If unconscious seek urgent veterinary aid.


  • If conscious give foods containing high sugar contents.


  • Honey can be smeared into the mouth and around the gums so that your pet can lick it up. Sugar can be dissolved in water and dribbled into the mouth.


  • If the symptoms are mild and your pet able to take food from you, jelly beans or sweets may be preferred as they won't drip and make a sticky mess like honey.


  • Unless there is an obvious reason why your pet has had an episode of low blood glucose then seek veterinary aid, preferably the veterinarian who regularly treats your pet.

Young puppies and kittens that have been fasted excessively (often due to a virus and vomiting) may also develop low blood sugar problems. They may show the same signs as a low blood sugar diabetic but may take fits instead. Management in the early stages are as above but once fitting has commenced then urgent veterinary aid is required.

HIGH BLOOD SUGAR - CAUSES

  • Undiagnosed diabetic.


  • Infection in a diabetic.


  • Insufficient or missed insulin.

SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS

  • Excessive water intake. Your pet may be constantly drinking.


  • Unexplained weight loss.


  • Frequent or large volume urination.


  • Vomiting.


  • Smell of acetone on the breath (nail polish remover like smell).


  • Altered behaviour, drowsiness.


  • Coma

MANAGEMENT

  • If your pet has missed an insulin injection then give it.


  • Encourage water intake. Give small amounts often if vomiting occurs.


  • Seek veterinary aid.

DIARRHOEA

Vomiting and/or diarrhoea is commonly caused by viruses, sudden changes in diet, or intestinal worms. It is more common in young pets who are also more likely to need veterinary aid. Parvovirus is very common here in Melbourne. Should your puppy have vomiting and diarrhoea with blood see a veterinarian immediately as death can occur within hours in some cases.

  • See your veterinarian if blood appears in the faeces, if your pet stops drinking or starts to vomit or dehydrate, if you pet appears not to be coping or if the diarrhoea does no start to resolve over 24 hours.


  • Remove all food immediately. Water MUST be available at all times. If your pet does not drink it will dehydrate. If possible purchase an electrolyte replacer (such as Lectade) from your veterinarian or pet store. It can be given instead of water and replaces the salts lost in the diarrhoea. An alternative is to make a light broth (or chicken stock) and add a little glucagon, honey or sugar into it.


  • Fasting your pet will help to settle the diarrhoea. Small puppies and kittens should not be fasted without veterinary advice however older pets can be fasted 12 to 24 hours.


  • Feed your pet bland food such as boiled chicken and rice or boiled mince and rice. Drain to remove the fat. Low fat cottage cheese and rice is also suitable. This diet should be continued until the faeces become formed.


  • The human anti-diarrhoeal Kaomagma can be given at the rate 2 mls (1/2 teaspoon) per 3 kg three times the first day then twice daily until the faeces become firm (stop promptly otherwise you will cause constipation).


  • Once your pet has recovered then slowly change the diet back to the normal food by mixing it with the mince and rice. Worm your pet if it has not been done recently.

VOMITING

  • See your veterinarian if the vomiting is persistent, if your pet appears to be deteriorating, stops drinking, starts to dehydrate or if your pet vomits up fresh blood or coffee ground like material.


  • Remove all food immediately. Do not remove water but do prevent your pet from drinking heaps of water in one go. It WILL vomit it back up.


  • If possible purchase an electrolyte replacer (such as Lectade) from your veterinarian or pet store. It can be given instead of water and replaces the salts lost in the vomit and is less like to be vomited up than water. Also Lectade contains glucose that helps to give your pet energy while it is unable to eat. An alternative is to dissolve a LITTLE sugar in the water, or to make a light broth (or chicken stock) and add a little glucagon, honey or sugar into it.


  • Do not attempt to give food for at least 12 hours.


  • After 12 hours feed your pet bland food such as boiled chicken and rice or boiled mince and rice. Drain to remove the fat. Low fat cottage cheese and rice is also suitable. Give only a teaspoon or two initially. If no vomiting occurs after an hour give a slightly large amount. Continue to increase the size of the meal each hour until your pet is eating normal amounts.


  • Once your pet has recovered then slowly change the diet back to the normal food by mixing it with the mince and rice. Worm your pet if it has not been done recently.

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Send mail to Administrator with comments or questions about this site                Fiona Anderson 2001