It is always handy to know some first aid in case of an emergency so we want to give you some helpful information that may help you reduce an injury or save even your pets life.
Assessing your patient:
As mentioned in the tips for parasites section, observation is very important. If you are aware of what is normal than you will generally be able to recognise what is abnormal. If you come across an animal in need we have put together some helpful hints.
The first step is making sure that you are not putting yourself, anybody else or the animal in danger by attending to it. Quickly evaluate the environment. It is also important that you are aware that all animals are capable of biting and scratching. When an animal is scared it may try to act in self defence so look for something that can be used as a soft muzzle like a scarf or tie.
Make an assessment by looking, listening and feeling for any obvious abnormalities. Is the patient bleeding, breathing heavy or not breathing at all? Does it feel as though there are broken bones? Does the animal react when you touch a certain area?
Airway: Make sure the airway is clear by gently extending the head and neck, pull the tongue forward and wipe away any material from the back of the mouth. Only do this if there is no risk of being bitten, ie the animal is unconscious.
Breathing: Look for breathing by watching for the rise and fall in the chest, listening for breathing and feeling for air being exhaled. You could also put a feather or some cottonwool in front of the nose and mouth to watch for movement. If there is no breathing present, then mouth to mouth (or mouth to nose for animals with long noses) will encourage it to breath. You must ensure that there is no air leakage out of the nose or sides of the mouth so make a seal with your hands. Extend the neck carefully and gently force air into the animal’s lungs. The chest cavity should expand with each breath. Use 1 breath every 5 seconds. Again remember not to place yourself or anyone else at risk if the animal is likely to bite.
Circulation: or Cardiac function. Feel for a pulse which is usually found at the very base of the hind leg on the inside or in the groin area (the same areas as is used for humans is fine). If no pulse is present you may begin CPR. Put pressure on the left side over the highest point of the chest. The chest should be compressed to approximately 20% of the chests diameter. The rate is around 100 compressions per minute and give 2 breaths every 15 cardiac compressions. Check for a pulse for 5 seconds every minute.
* If the animal is bleeding then you must control the bleeding by using slight pressure. Place something over the wound (a bandage, cloth of some sort or even your hand) and apply pressure for no less than 2 minutes. This is the required time the body needs to start its natural clotting factor. It would be favourable to leave the wound covered as the delicate clot may be disrupted and start to bleed again. An exception applies to bleeding from the ear/s, never plug up the ear canal instead, turn the animals head to the injury side so it does not pool inside the ear.
* If a fracture/broken bone is suspected, try to immobilize the limb without applying pressure directly to the area. Use whatever you can as a splint and immobilize both above and below the site. If this is not possible or the animal is too stressed then try to reduce futher injury by securing it in a small, enclosed location like a box or cage.
* If the animal is suffering from a wound such as a bite or laceration for example, it is important to first stop the bleeding (as mentioned above), cleanse the area thoroughly using running water or very diluted disinfectant and dress the wound with a sterile dressing.
* If an animal is in a serious state it is important to get it to professional help as soon as possible. Try to use something that minimizes the animal’s movements like a cage, crate or box. You may even wrap the animal in a towel or blanket. Animals that are unwell lose body heat very quickly. Animals generally have a higher body temperature than humans so ensure they are covered to keep them warm and prevent heat loss. If a spinal injury is suspected the animal must be transported on a flat surface and try to avoid movement.