Fast Facts and Warning Signs

Animal - Injury

How to Approach an Injured Animal
Approach the animal slowly while talking in a calm, soothing voice. ALWAYS muzzle an animal in pain or have someone restrain the head before examining the injured area. Try to assess the nature of the emergency as quickly as possible. Call a veterinarian as soon as possible and seek professional care for your pet immediately.

Bite Wounds

Signs:
As always, approach the animal slowly. Injured animals often communicate their pain through aggressive or defensive actions, especially after a bite injury. MUZZLE the animal or have someone restrain the head. Examine the entire animal for bleeding, lacerations or pain. Multiple bite wounds can be hard to find under thick coats. If you cannot quickly reach a veterinarian, flush each wound with saline (if not available clean water will do). Wrap large wounds as best as possible, small wounds can be left uncovered. DO NOT use tourniquets to stop bleeding — use firm pressure if needed. Seek veterinary care IMMEDIATELY — bite wounds often need to be flushed extensively, sutured, and/or surgically addressed to help prevent infection. Wounds that are managed shortly after injury occurs require less intensive care.

Burns

Actions:
First aid for chemical, electrical or thermal (heat) burns: Immediately flush the area with cool water for 5 minutes. After flushing, apply a cold compress to the area for 10 to 15 minutes. NEVER apply the ice pack directly to the skin. Wrap the pack in a thin towel or available material. Call a veterinarian immediately and seek professional help and examination. Burns do need to be addressed immediately and can be life threatening when severe.

Fractures

Signs:
Pain, not using a limb, limb looks bent or swollen.
Actions:
MUZZLE the animal or have someone restrain the head. Check the limb for open wounds or bleeding. If there is excessive bleeding, wrap the area with a towel or other available material while trying not to move the limb. DO NOT pull on the limb in an attempt to align the fracture, such action can result in further injury and increased bleeding. Stabilize the limb as best as possible (carry your pet if possible) and seek professional help immediately. DO NOT give any pain medications to your pet (some are toxic to animals) unless instructed to do so by a veterinarian. Avoid wrapping the leg, as it is easy to impede blood circulation.

Insect Bites & Tick Removal

Action
If you suspect your Pet has a Tick call your Vet immediately. Like people, animals vary in their reactions to insect venom. The response can range from mild irritation to allergic shock. Check the area for any remaining stinger or insect, remove them and cleanse the area with soap and water. Cool wet towels or gauze can be used (for 20 to 30 minutes) to soothe the area. Watch your pet for signs of allergic reaction (see allergy section and follow the instructions if needed). Be particularly mindful of difficulties breathing. When returning from a park or a hike, check thoroughly for ticks by running your fingers through your pet’s entire coat, and inspecting the paws, pads, between toes and inside floppy ears.

The paralysis tick injects a toxin into its host dog or cat as it feeds. Normally, cats show more resistance to this poison than dogs, but if affected the signs are similar for both. Increased body temperature due to either hot weather or exercise will exacerbate symptoms.

If left to run its course, a case of tick poisoning goes through three stages.

Early Signs:

  • A change in voice; the meow or bark becomes softer and/or changes pitch.
  • Weakness in the back legs; walking along then sitting down suddenly is a common early sign.
  • Vomiting, especially if it happens several times in a day and you see froth.

Later Signs:

  • Wobbliness in the back legs.
  • Excessive salivation and vomiting is not uncommon.
  • Panting, progressing to loud breathing, even grunting noises.
  • Many dogs will exhibit a moist cough and breathing problems before other signs. (Particularly common in King Charles spaniels, schnauzers and other short-nosed dogs, this is a dangerous sign because it may lead to pneumonia.)

Worsening Signs:

  • As signs of poisoning progress, the animals become unable to stand.
  • Breathing becomes exaggerated and difficult.
  • As breathing becomes more difficult, the gums become cold and blue-tinged. 
  • Death follows quite quickly.  
  • Don't wait for worsening signs, get to your vet immediately.

The residual effect:

Even when you find a tick and remove it, your pet isn't out of the woods. There's a very good chance the tick could have left a residue of poison under the skin which will then be slowly absorbed. You should keep an eye on him or her for the next two to four days, keeping it cool and calm while avoiding excitement and exercise. Also, do not offer your pet either food or water because its ability to swallow may be impaired. If you are unsure at any point or the signs worsen, call your Vet or an Emergency Animal Hospital straightaway.

Lacerations

Actions:
As always, approach the animal slowly. Injured animals are often aggressive or defensive. MUZZLE the animal or have someone restrain the head. Examine the entire animal for bleeding, lacerations or pain. Multiple lacerations can be hard to find under thick fur. Wrap large lacerations as best as possible, small wounds can be left uncovered. DO NOT use tourniquets to stop bleeding, use firm pressure if needed. Seek veterinary care IMMEDIATELY, lacerations often need to be flushed extensively or sutured to help prevent infection.
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