A pet emergency is every dog owner’s worst nightmare. Lacking specific training, most average pet owners probably aren’t sure exactly what to do when a true pet emergency occurs, so they panic, which can cause them to lose valuable minutes to save their dog’s life. In a human emergency, the first move is usually to call 911, but there is no animal equivalent to 911. It should be reiterated that you cannot call 911 for your dog. The line is reserved for humans, and should be kept free for anyone with a legitimate human emergency.
Unfortunately, I understand how scary an emergency situation can be, so I’ve prepared a step by step guide on what I think are the most important things to remember if you think your dog’s life is in danger.
First things first, let’s define a pet emergency. If your dog is showing signs of physical distress, signs of an illness, or an injury then you should seek veterinarian assistance as soon as possible.
Now, it may seem much easier said than done, but do your best not to panic. Panicking causes people not to think clearly, potentially making rash decisions, and could be detrimental to the outcome of the situation, even though you were trying to help.
Next, call your vet or your local emergency animal hospital to alert them of your imminent arrival. You should secure your pet so that they do not delay treatment by running off.
If you have a phone that has GPS capabilities, go ahead and input the address of the facility so that you do not get lost on the way. It is easy to miss a turn when you have a pet in distress in your backseat.
Grab anything that you think might be important for the vet to have. That is to say, if you think your dog has eaten something that is dangerous such as medications or household chemicals, bring those items with you as well. Locate your keys, and unlock the car so you can prepare to move your dog.
Carefully move your dog to your vehicle. Make sure they are secured so that they don’t move around too much and hurt themselves further during the trip to the vet. Be careful that you do not get bitten, as a dog in distress is likely to act out, and could hurt you in the process. If you suspect that a specific area or part of your dog’s body has been injured, take care to support it so that you do not hurt or injure your dog while trying to help. Try to keep your dog calm during this process and on the way to the vet. Call ahead before you arrive if you think you will need help moving your dog safely from your vehicle.
I also want to take the time here to mention the importance of having a good first aid kit in your home, and making sure that your first aid kit is stocked and accessible, so that you are not left wanting in the event that you need something important in an emergency and do not have it. It is often a good idea to have a back up first aid kit, or a travel first aid kit. I personally really like the Adventure Dog First Aid Kit from Alcott. I know it says “Dog” on the label but this kit is packed with 40 items that are useful for both man and canine alike. I especially like the fact that it all comes contained in it’s own durable carrying case for storage. Of course, if you are looking for something a little more compact, the Portable Pet First Aid Kit from RC Pets is also a great option. It too comes in its own carrying case, is made from durable canvas and contains a range of items. From bandages to tweezers and seemingly everything in-between these kits have it all.
Lastly, I will leave you with this. Hopefully, you and your pet will never be put into an emergency situation, and you will never have to employ the steps listed above. However, it is always smart to develop some kind of contingency plan with yourself, or your family members in the event that something unexpected does happen. Plan routes to the animal hospital, have vet numbers handy, discuss what to do in case something should happen and you are not home. Remember it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
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