What To Do

Assess Before You React: Check your pet’s level of consciousness and use the ABC’s of first aid.

A stands for AIRWAY. Note whether the chest is rising and falling while listening closely for the sounds of breathing. If you are certain the animal is unconscious, check for airway obstruction by extending the head and neck and pulling the tongue forward to look into the mouth. Do no put your fingers in the animal’s mouth. Pull on the tip of the tongue while restraining the upper jaw. If you meet resistance, do not continue because the animal is not unconscious and could bite you. If you are sure the animal is unconscious and you are meeting no resistance opening the mouth, remove any saliva or vomitus with a finger sweep or a shake with the head down. An animal that is seizuring may appear to not be breathing but the jaw will be firmly clenched. Very rarely is the breath holding a life threatening event. The animal will usually start breathing on it’s own within a minute. DO NOT PUT YOUR FINGERS IN THE ANIMAL’S MOUTH BECAUSE YOU WILL GET BITTEN. If the airway is clear, continue to the next step.

B stands for BREATHING and BLEEDING (and BANDAGING as needed). If the animal is not breathing and the airway is clear, attempt to perform CPR by rhythmically compressing the chest. You can also hold the mouth shut and breathe into the nostrils with the head and neck extended if you are sure the animal is not conscious. Be aware that even the friendliest pet can bite if scared, disoriented or painful.

C stands for CARDIOVASCULAR issues including heart function, pulse and capillary refill time. Put you ear to the chest and listen for a heartbeat. Lift the lip to see the color of the gums. The color should be pink and return to the normal pink color within 1.5sec after applying pressure with you r finger to the gum line or the inner lip. White gums may mean blood loss or shock. If you do not hear a heartbeat, try to perform CPR chest compressions.

IT IS CRITICAL TO CALL A VETERINARIAN IF THERE ARE LIFE THREATENING INJURIES OR ANY OF THE ABC’S ARE ABNORMAL AND THEN TRANSPORT TO THE CLOSEST VETERINARY MEDICAL FACILITY. CALLING FIRST IS USUALLY THE BEST PLAN TO MAKE SURE THE FACILITY IS OPEN AND THERE IS A DOCTOR ON DUTY. YOU MAY BE REFERRED TO A VETERINARY FACILITY THAT IS BETTER PREPARED TO DEAL WITH THE EMERGENCY.

PLAN AHEAD: Keep emergency numbers nearby or programmed into your phone. Make sure you have the name and number of your family veterinarian and the number of the veterinary emergency facility. Another number that is useful is the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Hotline at (888) 426-4435.

TRANSPORTING AN INJURED PET: If you are transporting a cat or small dog, please use a confined space such as an airline kennel or cardboard box. When transporting a larger dog, encourage your pet to lie on its side and remain motionless but don’t apply force. Putting a blanket over your pet’s head and body may also be calming and prevent heat loss.

TRANSPORTING AN UNCONSCIOUS PET: Do not put pressure on the abdomen or stomach area. Find a flat strong surface to use as a stretcher or back board during transport. Position the head in normal alignment with the body, do not flex upward or downward as this could cause interference with blood flow to and from the brain. If vomiting is a possibility or there is head trauma, position the head below the heart by angling the backboard or stretcher with the head slightly down to keep the lungs clear and decrease intracranial pressure.

ONCE YOU SECURE YOUR PET, CALL YOUR VETERINARIAN OR EMERGENCY FACILITY (IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY DONE SO). YOU CAN CALL ANIMAL EMERGENCY TRAUMA CENTER AT (360) 697-7771.