By: Audrey Wissel & Debra Murray
“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself.”
April is American Red Cross Pet First Aid Awareness Month. There’s no doubt our pups love us tremendously and show it daily. From how they follow us around the house to their elaborate greeting rituals upon our arrival home, they demonstrate their unending devotion. One simple way for us to reciprocate that love is by being armed with the knowledge of how to prevent and identify a few common dog ailments and injuries. Here are just a few pet parents should be familiar with.
• Foreign Body Ingestion
Dogs love chewing just about everything - from their own toys to your socks and shoes. Yes, chewing stuff is good for your furry friend’s teeth, but parts of the object being chewed can break off and get swallowed. Sometimes, these miscellaneous objects can lead to blockage in your pet’s intestines. Vets remove dozens of different items from pets’ intestines such as socks, pants, stones, corn on the cob, rubber ducks, toy soldiers, batteries, and rubber bouncy balls. Try to keep your pup from chewing inappropriate objects by providing them with suitable chew toys that discourage them from making their own.
Some common cases of poisoning occur when your pooch nabs the dark chocolate or sugarless gum left out on the table. Dogs also eat prescription and non-prescription medicines, batteries, dog flea products, laundry detergent pods, insect or vermin baits and poisons, and just about anything that looks or smells tasty to them. Be cautious and keep all substances that are toxic to your canine companion out of their reach and in secure containers. If your pup seems sick, call your vet or ASPCA pet poison line (888-426-4435) for advice. DO NOT give your pet any human medication without veterinary advice. Ibuprofen, Advil, Aleve and Tylenol can be toxic to your pup.
Ever wonder what to do if Fido cuts himself? Keep a stocked dog wound first aid kit containing gauze sponges and roll gauze, vet wrap, adhesive medical tape, sterile saline and a muzzle on hand. The American Veterinary Medicine Association suggests that you first muzzle your furry friend because even a solid-tempered, tolerant dog can be agitated or aggressive when experiencing pain. Then press a thick, clean gauze pad to the wound and apply pressure until the blood starts clotting. This will take several minutes for the clot to be strong enough to stop the bleeding. Instead of checking it every few seconds to see if it has clotted, wait a minimum of 3 minutes before checking.
Lacerations and wounds to pads, lips, tongues, and ears tend to bleed a lot. Avoid using Band-Aids on your pet’s wound. Severe bleeding can quickly become life-threatening—get your pooch to a vet immediately if this happens.
Hydration is an important part of your pup’s health. Water is the main component of healthy living cells in the body. Complications arise with basic biological functions when reduced water intake or loss of fluids occurs. Utilizing the simple trick of pulling up on the skin between your dog’s shoulder blades can help determine if your furry friend is well hydrated or not. If the skin stays tented and doesn’t spring back, then your pup is probably dehydrated and should promptly be seen by a veterinarian.
Hopefully, these First Aid tips and tricks can stay in your tool box while your dogs live long, happy, healthy lives never needing to use them. Yet, if there is a pet emergency, being prepared to respond quickly and calmly demonstrates your love and appreciation for the everlasting loyalty and devotion your furbabies have given to you.