A few first-aid basics to help your pets

Much as we all hope it will never happen to us, animal accidents and emergencies do happen.

At Robson and Prescott, some of the most common emergencies include collapse, breathing difficulties, choking, bloat, seizures, road traffic accidents, whelping, poisonings, urinary obstruction and allergic reactions.

In the event of any concerns we would always recommend contacting us promptly for advice and an emergency appointment when needed. But it is often useful to know some basics.

Wounds are one of the most frequently encountered issues in all species. Firm but gentle pressure applied to any bleeding, flushing/bathing with saline (one teaspoon salt to one pint fresh water), cooling a burn with cool water, and preventing further self trauma are a good start.

Elizabethan collars, aka ‘the lampshade,’ are very handy to prevent a pet licking an injury and causing further damage, infection and inflammation. T-shirts and socks can serve a similar purpose. Contrary to popular belief, licking is neither cleaning nor beneficial.

Tummy upsets are also common. In the first instance we would advise withholding food for 12 hours and allowing frequent small sips of water, then gradually introducing small amounts of bland food. For persistent or severe vomiting or diarrhoea, seek veterinary advice.

There are some common poisons that pets encounter – chocolate, rat poison, slug bait, cleaning products, grapes, raisins, onions, house plants and antifreeze to list a few. Prompt treatment is essential. The sooner we can remove the poison, the less damage it can do.

We frequently encounter pets that have been given human medicines. Never give an animal any medication unless advised to do so by a vet. Most pain relief medication is highly toxic to dogs and cats.

Seizures are very frightening and while we would always recommend seeking veterinary advise immediately, some things can be done to help, such as turning down the lights, removing all noise and light stimulus and removing any unstable objects, padding around the pet and of course keeping yourself safe. It is also useful to keep a diary of any seizure activity so you can provide the vet with as much information as possible as they have often stopped fitting by the time of examination.

Please be aware that when unwell even the most placid of pets can lash out so keep yourself and others safe.