THE INFORMATION HERE IS FOR EMERGENCY MEASURES ONLY & IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR VETERINARY CARE!
Please bring your pet to a doctor as soon as possible if it is injured, even if he or she seems to be recovering. There may be hidden damage & antibiotics or further treatment may be necessary.
It is presented in the hope that it will save animals' lives until they can be brought to a Doctor. In Emergencies such as Hurricanes, Floods, Fires, etc., it will not always be possible to get the animal to a veterinarian right away. These measures, if followed correctly, may save your pet.
If bleeding is severe or continuous, the animal may lose enough blood to cause shock (loss of as little as 2 teaspoons per pound of body weight may cause shock).
Emergencies may arise that require the owner to control the bleeding, even if it is just during transport of the animal to the veterinary facility.
As in any injury, take your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible!
TECHNIQUES TO STOP EXTERNAL BLEEDING
The following techniques are listed in order of preference.
Gently press a compress (a pad of clean cloth or gauze) over the bleeding area. Consistent, steady pressure is best. The compress helps control the bleeding by absorbing the blood and allowing it to clot.
Do not disturb blood clots after they have formed.
If blood soaks through, do not remove the pad; simply add additional layers of cloth and continue the direct pressure more evenly.
The compress can be bound in place using bandage material which frees the hands of the first aid provider for other emergency actions. In the absence of a compress, a bare hand or finger can be used.
Direct pressure on a wound is the most preferable way to stop bleeding.
If there is a severely bleeding wound on the foot or leg, gently elevate the leg so that the wound is above the level of the heart.
Elevation uses the force of gravity to help reduce blood pressure in the injured area, slowing the bleeding.
Elevation is most effective in larger animals with longer limbs where greater distances from wound to heart are possible.
Direct pressure with compresses should also be maintained to maximize the use of elevation.
Elevation of a limb combined with direct pressure is an effective way to stop bleeding.
PRESSURE ON THE SUPPLYING ARTERY:
If external bleeding continues following the use of direct pressure and elevation, finger or thumb pressure over the main artery to the wound is needed.
Apply pressure to the femoral artery in the groin for severe bleeding of a rear leg;
to the brachial artery in the inside part of the upper front leg for bleeding of a front leg;
or to the caudal artery at the base of the tail if the wound is on the tail.
Continue application of direct pressure.
PRESSURE ABOVE AND BELOW THE BLEEDING WOUND:
This can also be used in conjunction with direct pressure.
Pressure above the wound will help control arterial bleeding.
Pressure below the wound will help control bleeding from veins.
Use of a tourniquet is dangerous and it should be used only for a severe, life-threatening hemorrhage in a limb (leg or tail) not expected to be saved.
A wide (2-inch or more) piece of cloth should be used to wrap around the limb twice and tied into a knot.
A short stick or similar object is then tied into the knot as well.
Twist the stick to tighten the tourniquet until the bleeding stops.
Secure the stick in place with another piece of cloth and make a written note of the time it was applied.
Loosen the tourniquet for 15 to 20 seconds every 20 minutes.
Remember this is dangerous and will likely result in disability or amputation.
Use of a tourniquet should only be employed as a last-resort, life-saving measure!
Internal bleeding is a life-threatening condition, but it is not obvious like external bleeding.
Any bleeding which is visible is external. Internal bleeding occurs inside the body and will not be seen.
There are, however, external signs of internal bleeding:
The pet is pale (check the gums or eyelids).
The pet is cool on the legs, ears, or tail.
The pet is extremely excited or unusually subdued.
If any of these signs are evident, the pet should be immediately transported to a veterinary facility for professional help.
Remember: internal bleeding is not visible on the outside.
We use bandages for several reasons:
to protect wounds from the environment, protect the environment from wounds, and to discourage the pet from licking or irritating a wound. They may be applied as support for strains or sprains and to prevent motion. Proper application is important.
CLEANING THE WOUND
The process of bandaging begins with careful cleaning of the wound. All dried blood, dirt, and debris should be washed away using mild soap and copious amounts of water. Hair should be clipped away so that it cannot lie in the wound, and, if possible, the area should be patted dry.
The first step in proper bandaging is making sure the wound is clean.
THE CONTACT LAYER
After cleaning the wound, the contact layer is the first layer applied.
Ideally, this layer should be sterile and inert. Stay in close contact with, but not stick to, the wound, be very absorbent, be free of particles or fibers that might shed into the wound, conform to all shapes, allow drainage to pass to the next layer without becoming wet and minimize pain.
A Telfa-Pad, available at most pharmacies, comes closest to meeting these requirements.
After cleaning the wound, place the contact layer over the wound. It is desirable to apply an antibiotic ointment (such as Neosporin) to the pad, but this is not absolutely necessary.
Frequent bandage changes are more important.
After cleaning the wound, a clean Telfa-Pad should be applied over the area.
THE ABSORBENT LAYER
After the contact layer is in place, apply the second (absorbent) layer to hold the contact layer snugly, but not tightly, over the wound.
This layer is usually a cotton or dacron material which comes in various widths.
Generally, 1-inch rolls are used for small limbs and the tail, 2-inch rolls are for medium-sized legs, and the 3- and 4-inch rolls are for large legs and the body.
It is important to use the proper size.
Materials that are too narrow often cause a tourniquet effect, especially if the wound causes swelling.
If materials are too wide, they are difficult to apply smoothly. Any wrinkles or ridges may cause the bandage to become uncomfortable for your pet.
Uneven pressure may cause necrosis (tissue death) of the underlying tissues.
Begin with just enough absorbent layer to hold the contact layer in place.
If the wound is on a leg or the tail, proceed by wrapping from the toes or the tip of the tail towards the body.
If you begin at the top of the leg or the tail, the bandage is more likely to restrict blood flow and cause swelling, which may cause tissue damage.
Apply several layers of absorbent material, which will soak up the fluid from the wound and increase the patient's comfort by cushioning the wound.
Make sure the material you use as the absorbent layer is the proper width, and wrap from the toes or tail tip towards the body.
THE OUTER LAYER
Finally, apply the outer (tertiary) layer, usually made up of porous adhesive tape or elastic tape (i.e. Elastikon, Vetrap).
Wrapped from the toes towards the body, this layer should also be smooth and snug.
Do not pull elastic tapes to their limits, as this will interfere with circulation and result in bandage failure.
The tape should be in contact with the skin (hair) at the bandage margins, anchoring the bandage so it will not slip.
The outer layer of a bandage should be applied smoothly and snugly, but not tight enough to cut off blood circulation.
Bandages should be checked frequently for any signs of swelling, discoloration or coolness of the skin, odor, or saturation of the bandage material.
The bandage should be changed whenever any of the above are noticed or any time it appears to be uncomfortable for the pet.
Wounds that are draining heavily may require bandage changes every 1 or 2 hours.
Bandages over wounds with little or no drainage should be changed every 24 hours.
CPR - RESCUE BREATHING
MAKE CERTAIN THE ANIMAL IS ACTUALLY ARRESTED AND UNCONSCIOUS:
Talk to the animal first. Gently touch and attempt to awaken the pet.
You could be seriously injured should you attempt to perform CPR on a pet who was only sleeping heavily and was startled awake.
ENSURE AN OPEN AIRWAY:
Extend the head and neck and pull the tongue forward. Look in the mouth and remove any saliva or vomitus.
If it is too dark to see into the mouth, sweep your finger deep into the mouth and even into the throat to remove any vomitus or foreign body.
Be aware of a hard, smooth, bone-like structure deep in the throat.
This is likely to be the hyoid apparatus (Adam's apple).
Serious injury could result if you pull on the hyoid apparatus.
OBSERVE FOR EFFECTIVE BREATHING:
Sometimes an animal will begin to breathe spontaneously when the head is put in the position discussed above (head and neck extended, tongue pulled forward).
Watch for the rise and fall of the chest while listening closely for sounds
If no breathing is evident in 10 seconds, begin rescue breathing.
BEGIN RESCUE BREATHING:
Rescue breathing is performed by covering the animal's nose with your mouth and forcefully blowing your breath into his lungs.
In cats and small dogs, you must hold the corners of the mouth tightly closed while you force the air in.
In larger dogs, the tongue should be pulled forward and the mouth and lips held shut using both hands cupped around the muzzle.
Force the air into the lungs until you see the chest expand.
Take your mouth away when the chest has fully expanded.
The lungs will deflate on their own.
Air should be forced into the animal's lungs until you see the chest expand.
GIVE 3 - 5 FULL BREATHS:
After several breaths are given, stop for a few seconds to recheck for breathing and heart function.
If the pet is still not breathing, continue rescue breathing 20-25 times per minute in cats or small dogs,
or 12-20 times per minute in medium or large dogs.
Push down on the stomach area every few seconds to help expel the air that may have blown into the stomach. If the stomach is allowed to distend with air, the pressure will make the rescue breathing efforts less effective.
IF BREATHING IS SHALLOW OR NON-EXISTENT:
and the animal is still unconscious, continue rescue breathing 10-15 times per minute and transport the animal to the nearest veterinary facility.
AFTER GIVING 3 TO 5 BREATHS, CHECK FOR A PULSE:
If no pulse is detectable, begin chest compressions.
IN SMALL DOGS OR CATS:
squeeze the chest using one or both hands around the chest.
Depress the rib cage circumferentially.
Do this 100-150 times per minute.
IN LARGE DOGS:
compress the chest wall with one or two hands, depending on the size of the dog (and the size of the rescuer).
If the dog is on her side, place the hand(s) on the side of the chest wall where it is widest.
If the dog is on her back, place the hand(s) on the sternum (breastbone). Depress the rib cage or sternum 1.5 to 4 inches, depending on the dog's size.
Do this 80-120 times per minute
Coordinate Rescue Breathing and Chest Compressions:
Give breaths during the compressions, if possible. If it is not possible to give breaths during the compressions, give two breaths after every 12 compressions.
When Two or More Rescuers are Working Together:
Rescue breathing should be given during every second or third heart compression.
Continue CPR Until....
You become exhausted and can't continue.
You get the animal transported to a veterinary faclility and professionals can take over.
The pulse is palpable or heartbeats are felt and they are strong and regular. In the vast majority of cases, artificial ventilations will continue to be required. This is due to nervous system depression secondary to the arrest.
All resuscitated animals should be transported to a veterinary facility for further examination and care!
SIGNS OF SHOCK
EARLY STAGES OF SHOCK:
Bright red gums.
Very rapid capillary refill time.
The pet may be either excited or subdued.
Rapid heart rate.
Pulse not difficult to find.
MIDDLE STAGES OF SHOCK:
Gums appear pale or "muddy".
Abnormally long capillary refill time.
The heart rate is frequently above normal.
The pulse weakens and may be difficult to locate.
The pet will most likely be subdued, depressed and weak.
Respiration often shallow and rapid (but may be normal).
Rectal temperature often below normal (may be normal or even elevated).
LATE STAGES OF SHOCK:
Gums extremely pale or show a bluish discoloration, and are often "blotchy" in appearance.
Capillary refill time is longer (sometimes longer than 3-4 seconds).
Heart rate is probably elevated and irregular, but may be normal or below normal as heart muscle begins to fail.
The pulse will be very weak and difficult or impossible to locate.
Respiration may be slow or rapid, shallow or deep.
The eyes may take on a glazed appearance and appear not to focus normally.
Mental condition deteriorates from depression to stupor to coma.
Rectal temperature will be below normal, often critically so.
TREATMENT OF SHOCK: WHAT TO DO
Successful treatment of a patient in shock involves prompt recognition of the signs, immediate initiation of first aid procedures, and safe and rapid transport to the veterinary facility for definitive treatment.
First aid procedures include:
Providing adequate breathing. (see CPR)[Choking]
Stopping blood loss. (see Bleeding)
Protecting obvious fractures from further injury. (see Splints)
Preventing loss of body heat by covering the patient with one or more blankets.
Immediately transporting the patient to a veterinary facility for definitive treatment of shock and other injuries and illnesses. (see Transport)
A jacket can be used to keep an animal in shock warm while preparing for transport to a veterinary facility.
TREATMENT OF SHOCK: WHAT NOT TO DO
Well-meaning pet owners often use first aid procedures which may seem helpful, but, in fact, may prove dangerous to the animal.
Do not allow the injured pet to move about on his own.
Walking about or any unnecessary movement (especially allowing the pet to jump in or out of the transport vehicle) may increase internal bleeding.
Unnecessary use of muscles "burns fuel," which can be fatal to a patient in shock.
Do not apply a heating pad to a sick or injured patient.
He may suffer a severe burn. In addition, application of heat will cause the vessels of the skin to dilate.
These dilated vessels require more blood to fill them and decrease the efficiency of the already failing cardiovascular system, resulting in worsening of the shock condition.
Do not pour water (or anything else) into the animal's mouth.
Animals in shock are weak and may inhale anything given by mouth into the lungs, causing a serious complication.
Do not administer any medications.
(including aspirin or other pain relievers) unless instructed to do so by a veterinarian.
Do not assume the pet is NOT in shock after an accident.
Early, mild stages of shock are difficult to recognize, and the pet may deteriorate rapidly if not treated.
Do not hesitate seeking veterinary assistance.
Many injuries and illnesses that cause shock may cause irreparable damage in minutes.
Any hesitation could mean the difference between a pet making a full recovery and a pet which cannot be saved.
Choking is interference with breathing caused by foreign material in, or compression on, the trachea (windpipe).
IF THE PET IS UNCONSCIOUS:
PERFORM A FINGER SWEEP:
Open your pet's mouth and perform a finger sweep by placing your finger along the inside of the mouth, sliding it down toward the center of the throat over the base of the tongue and gently "sweeping" toward the center to remove any foreign material.
Warning: there is a structure deep in the throat (the "Adam's Apple") which feels like a smooth bone. Do not attempt to pull it out!
BEGIN RESCUE BREATHING:
If air is not entering the lungs, slap the pet's chest wall firmly or perform the Heimlich maneuver by putting the pet on its back,
placing your hands over the abdomen near the bottom of its rib cage,
and gently, but firmly thrusting toward the spine.
Perform a finger sweep and begin rescue breathing.
Repeat until the foreign body is clear and the lungs can be inflated.
Transport to the veterinarian.
IF THE PET IS CONSCIOUS:
Stay calm and try to keep the pet calm. If the pet is overheated, wrap him in a wet towel, and transport him to the veterinarian.
Perform a finger sweep only if it will not excite the pet.
Frequently, pet owners confuse coughing with choking. Both cause the pet to forcefully exhale.
With choking, the pet has difficulty inhaling.
When coughing, the pet can inhale almost normally.
Be careful to distinguish the two: attempting to give first aid to a pet who is merely coughing can injure the animal.
If it appears that your pet has an extra joint, the limb is likely broken (fractured).
If possible, fractures of the bones below the elbow or the stifle (knee) should be splinted at the accident site.
This must be done carefully in order to avoid injury to both the pet and the first aid provider.
Fractures are usually painful injuries, so it is best to muzzle (see section on muzzling) or cover the pet with a thick blanket or towel.
If there is a wound on the fractured limb, bandage it first using the techniques discussed in the previous section.
Do not attempt to replace a bone if it protrudes.
If the foreleg is broken, a newspaper or magazine makes a great splint.
Roll the paper or magazine loosely and collapse it, forming a gutter shape.
Place the leg in the gutter and tape firmly with any good tape (adhesive, duct, even Scotch).
Other materials which may be used for splinting are wood, sticks, tree branches, cardboard, or light strips of metal.
Be certain to tape above and below the fracture site.
All splints should extend at least one joint above and one joint below the
A magazine makes a good temporary splint until you can get your cat or dog to a veterinarian.
The bones below the level of the knee (stifle) may be splinted by merely taping the broken leg to the other leg (mountaineering splint).
Another splint that can be quickly and easily applied involves using wire
Collapse a few of the hangers together and twist them together to form a malleable metal "bar."
Bend the bar into a shape which resembles the normal angulation of the rear leg and tape this to the leg.
Sticks of wood, thick layers of cardboard, etc. can also be used.
As with splints on forelimbs, splints on rear limbs should extend at least one joint above and one joint below the fracture site.
If the rear limb has been fractured above the stifle (knee), it is not easy to
splint effectively. It is best to get these patients immobilized and transported.
Coat hangers can make an effective temporary splint on a rear limb. They should be bent into a shape following the normal angulation of the leg and then taped to the limb.
USE A BACKBOARD
If the pet seems paralyzed or unable to get up, a spinal injury is suspect and the pet must be firmly immobilized to prevent further damage to the nerves.
Get a firm, flat support (an ironing board, a piece of plywood, a collapsed cardboard box, a table leaf -- think of one in your house before you need it).
Grasp the skin over the back of the neck and over the small of the
back and gently slide the pet on to the support.
Try to keep the back and neck straight. Tie or tape the pet to the support.
POSITION THE HEAD
If the pet is unconscious, position the head in normal alignment with the
It should not flex abnormally downward nor extend excessively upward. Improper flexing or extending can cause decreased blood drainage from the brain and cause serious damage.
If the pet has vomited or appears likely to vomit, put the head down below the level of the heart.
This will allow the vomitus to run out of the mouth and not down into the
windpipe and the lungs.
Be aware that pets with severe head injuries are likely to vomit, even while they are unconscious.
If you suspect that your pet has consumed a substance that is poisonous, look for evidence (i.e., an open container, a pool of antifreeze, etc.).
Call your veterinarian or a poison control center and be prepared to answer the following questions:
What product caused the poisoning and how much was ingested?
When did the poisoning occur?
What symptoms is your pet exhibiting?
Can you retrieve a container or label from the poisonous substance to determine the active ingredient?
Follow the instructions of the veterinarian or the poison control center.
If you cannot get in touch with a veterinarian or a poison control center, then induce vomiting with the following exceptions:
Do not induce vomiting if:
the animal is unconscious, semi-conscious, or convulsing,
there is evidence that the poison was:
a strong acid,
an alkali (such as bleach),
a petroleum product,
a cleaning product,
or the substance was ingested more than 3 hours ago.
If your pet ingested one of these substances, or the poison was ingested more than three hours ago, it is imperative that you somehow get him to a veterinary facility for treatment.
To induce vomiting:
Give full strength (3%) hydrogen peroxide by mouth at a dosage of 1 tablespoon per 15-20 pounds of body weight,
or Syrup of ipecac (follow label directions)
The first aid provider must not only identify and treat injury or illness, but must also safely transport the patient to the veterinary facility for treatment.
Improper technique when transporting a patient can result in further injury or complications.
HANDLE THE PET AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE
Try to make the pet comfortable by encouraging him to lie down and stay.
Smaller dogs and cats can most effectively be transported in commercially available carriers or in a cardboard box with a lid.
HANDLE THE PET GENTLY
Rough handling may cause further internal bleeding, more damage to the soft tissues around a fracture, and many other complications.
LIE THE PET ON ITS SIDE
If the pet seems to resent this or has more difficulty breathing on its side, it may indicate the pet has an injury to the chest or lungs.
In this case, it is better to leave the pet in a comfortable position.
MINIMIZE MOVEMENT BY THE PET
It is best in many cases to actually tie or tape the pet to a flat surface.
This is imperative when handling the unconscious patient or the patient with a suspected back injury.
DO NOT PUT PRESSURE ON THE STOMACH
This is most important for the pet who is having difficulty breathing, has been vomiting, or has pain in the abdomen.
BACK TO THE FIRST AID INDEX
SWALLOWED GLASS OR SMALL SHARP OBJECTS
KEEP ON HAND AT ALL TIMES:
COTTON balls ... not the "cosmetic puffs" that are made from man-made fibers.
Frozen Half-and-half coffee cream.
Should your pet eat glass ornaments, staples or other small sharp items, defrost the half-and-half & pour some in a bowl. (You can substitute liverwurst or another moist, smooth food or drink that your pet likes.)
DIP COTTON BALLS INTO THE CREAM AND FEED THEM TO YOUR PET.
DOGS OR CATS UNDER 10 POUNDS:
should eat 2 balls which you have first torn into smaller pieces.
DOGS 10-50 POUNDS: should eat 3-5 balls & larger dogs should eat 5-7. You may feed larger dogs an entire cotton ball at once. Dogs seem to really like these strange "treats" & eat them readily. As the cotton works its way through the digestive tract it will find all the glass pieces & wrap itself around them. Even the teeniest shards of glass will be caught & wrapped in the cotton fibers & the cotton will protect the intestines from damage by the glass.
CHECK STOOLS FOR SEVERAL DAYS FOR BLEEDING
Your dog's stools will be really weird for a few days & you will have to be careful to check for fresh blood or a tarry appearance to the stool. If either of the latter symptoms appear you should rush your dog to the vet for a checkup but, in most cases, the dogs will be just fine.
Copyright reserved to Sandy Brock. Permission is hereby granted for any non-profit reproduction by any person or group.
Reproduced from the information page at the Animals Hope Petition Team website.