Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Emergency Kit. The Veterinarians At Home Kit.

I was asked by a follower on Twitter for "my best pet advice," so I had to think about this open ended question for a moment and decided that one of my best pieces of advice was that every pet owner should have an at home emergency kit.

Here is what I think it should have in it;

1. A list of emergency phone numbers. 

I give out business cards so that my clients have one for their regular vet and also a card for our emergency clinic. (It has their number in very big NUMBERS so even in the emergency you see it). I also want the directions to be on the card. When you get stressed you forget to listen or pay attention to anything.

Pet Poison Hotline. Their number is 1-800-213-6680, a fee applies for their services.

2. A big blanket. 

It can act as a straitjacket, a warming blanket, and absorb fluids if needed.

3. Thick absorbent bandages and Tape. 

Some people actually use women's maxi pads. They are cheap, and highly absorbent, and pre-packaged. Vets love Vetwrap. You can find it pet supply stores, or stores that sell horse products. It sticks to itself but not your pet, or their fur.

4. 3% Hydrogen Peroxide. 

If you are concerned that your pet ingested something toxic or dangerous you need to have this on hand. Call your vet or the Pet Poison Helpline BEFORE inducing vomiting. Their number is 1-800-213-6680, OR call your vet, OR local pet emergency clinic. DO NOT WAIT. Seconds count, and hours can kill. (For more information on when to use this please see my blog, To Puke Or Not To Puke, That Is The Question..)

5. Benadryl (generic is called diphenhydramine). 

You need this anti-histamine for bug bites, (or if you are my dog Charlie, eating frogs) or any other allergic reaction. If your pet gets red skin, or hives, or is even having a worse allergic reaction it is your go to drug to try to slow or stop the progression of the reaction. If your pet is having trouble breathing, get in the car and go immediately to the closest ER.

6. Eye wash. 

Over the counter generic eye wash, sterile saline, is fine. Cheap stuff. Use it to flood the eye if the eye looks inflamed, has any abnormal discharge, or is being held shut (squinting). If the eye doesn't appear to be improving after an hour, or if it is painful, or you see yellow or thick discharge you need to go to the vet ASAP.

7. Thermometer and Lube. 

Please use a digital thermometer. The old mercury ones are too dangerous and fragile. What would happen if your pet sat down while you are trying to take their temperature? The normal temperature of a dog or cat is about 100.5  to 102.5 degrees F, or 38.5 to 39.2 degrees Celsius. If your pet is below 98 or above 104 degrees F go to the vet immediately. DO NOT WAIT! It is very likely the temperature is on its way to worsening, and seconds count!

8. Nail trimmers and Quik-Stop.

It is important to have the right trimmers for your pet. Ask your vet to show you what they use, and how to use them. Kwik-Stop is the product we use to stop the bleeding if we accidentally cut the nail too short. Here is my primer on How To Trim Nails.
I swear I have had this same bottle since 1995. It is still full, it takes forever to go through a bottle, and you get better at trimming nails with practice.

I also have very definite opinions on nail trimmers. Don't buy the cheap guillotine kind. Buy spring loaded heavy duty nail trimmers if your dog is over 30 pounds. ALWAYS have quik-stop standing by JIC.

9. If your pet has any medical issues you may need other drugs in this kit. 

I keep an NSAID, (old dog pains), and ear wash for floppy eared Beagle-pup. Along with previously prescribed drugs, ointments, etc. Always ask your vet before using old medications. many expire, and often clients inadvertently use the wrong drug on the wrong species or at the incorrect dose. I also keep heartworm, flea and tick preventatives close by in a locked container.

Please remember to not use prescription medications, (or ANY medications) without your Veterinarian's "OK" first. Many clients over use and abuse the prescription ear medications and over time make the ears much harder to treat.

Always use the medications given to you completely and exactly as directed on the label. I also have unfortunately seen many owners give their pets "human drugs" that are toxic to pets. I have actually lost pets due to owners giving medications that are toxic, and/or giving doses of drugs that are way over what a pet can tolerate. If you are in doubt, "Don't give it!"

10. I also keep my pets medical records with the medical kit. 

So if you need to run to the emergency Vet you have your pets records.

11. A Leash, Harness, Collar, and/or Pet Carrier.

If you need to get your pet somewhere fast it really helps to have these things at your finger tips.

12. Something to use as a Muzzle.

Also, some dogs do not do well with shock collars, or invisible fences. Please seek advice before purchasing products that might be potentially harmful and/or not work for your pet.

In the event your pet is hurt, or scared be prepared with a soft cloth muzzle. You can make one yourself with a long scarf, leash, a necktie, or pantyhose (if you use this don't pull it too tight this stuff is hard to get off and can act like a tourniquet) or length of gauze. I promise you your pet will bite if they are in pain and you are trying to do anything to them. When you are in pain you are not the same individual. Ask any woman who delivered a baby what came out of their mouth in the delivery room. A dog, or cat, or anything reacts without thinking if you touch them, and they are in pain. So just put one on and then don't get upset if they resent the muzzle. Improvise your own muzzle by making a noose by tying a loose knot in the middle of the length of the strip, leaving a large loop. Approach the dog quietly from behind and slip the noose over their nose. Do not block the nose, they need to breathe through this. If your dog is really struggling to breathe then do not tie the noose so tight. It should only be tight enough to not allow their mouth to bite you. Put the noose about mid-way on their muzzle/nose. Pull the know tight with the know on the chin, then pull the ends behind the ears and fasten a bow.

 The following picture is from "The Dog Lover's Companion," Fog City Press, a great resource for all dog owners.

Here is a picture of Savannah, my dog, modeling, (unhappily) an improvised muzzle.

And here is Joe, my husband, being a goof, because I asked him to show me how put it on ( a little quiz to see if he was paying attention), after I had put it on Savannah.

Here are some of my pets. I promise you that I have used my emergency kit on every one of them. (Did I ever tell you about the time my whole staff came over to our house to go fishing and my dog Charlie bit into the 3 pronged barbed fishing hook? That was emergency sedation, first-aid, and surgery. I'll tell you that story later.)

Ms. Pig just saying "hello"

Miss Pig, Ambrose, and Savannah on a perfect summer day. That's Ms. Pigs house. It is insulated and cozy year around.

Here is Squeak Box, DC, and Donner. We only go out on supervised outings. They are indoor kitties. But they love to go for walks with us and think of themselves as vicious predatory jungle lions.

Ambrose looking for attention.

Lilly, my moms dog. She's another story. In this photo she has Cushings disease. It was not treated at this point. Now she's an Addisonian. I'll explain her saga someday.

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