It is not easy to remain calm and rational when a pet has been injured, especially if the animal is one’s own. Nevertheless some simple tips kept in mind at this time can save the animal much distress and perhaps hasten its recovery.
After a car accident there is a reluctance by onlookers to move the animal. They choose often to try to attend the animal where it lies risking further injury to themselves and the patient.
If the animal is large and difficult to move, roll it carefully onto a blanket or flat board which can be carried easily by two people. Smaller animals can be gently picked up and placed in a laundry basket.
If the animal tends to bite, place a blanket over its head. A stretcher can be made quickly by placing garden stakes or tent poles through each corner of a clean chaff or potato bag.
Having lifted the animal into a safe position, keep as quiet as possible whilst you make arrangements with your veterinary surgeon. Do not rush off without first making sure that he or she is available. Frantic driving from veterinary surgery to veterinary surgery wastes time and only increases the likelihood of shock in the patient.
When bleeding occurs from a limb, place a clean folded handkerchief or soft cloth over the wound and bandage firmly enough to put pressure on the damaged blood vessels without cutting off the circulation completely to the whole limb. If the damaged part is difficult to bandage, hold a pad of cloth moistened in cold water or saline firmly against the injured area.
Fractures are best dealt with by keeping the animal completely still on a stretcher or in a basket. Attempts to fashion splints out of sticks or box wood tend only to increase the animals discomfort. Do not attempt to ease pain by the administration of aspirin, tranquilizers or sleeping tablets as these only complicate any subsequent anesthesia procedure.
Dog or cat bites quite often lead to painful infections and abscesses. The likelihood of these complications can be reduced, not by having available antibiotic powders or ointments, but by simple first aid.
Puncture wounds caused by animals teeth almost invariably carry down into the depths of the wound plugs of skin containing hair. The bitten area should be first cleaned with cold water or preferably with a saline solution made by mixing one teaspoon of common salt in a quarter of a liter or one pint of water.
Then clip all the hair away from the wound making sure that you have located all the puncture marks. Remove any plugs of hair or foreign particles from the bite using tweezers or clean sharp nosed pliers.
Bathe the wound freely and keep a watch for swelling or marked reddening of the surrounding tissues. If this occurs consult your veterinary surgeon as the animal may require antibiotics. Cat bites and deep scratches of the face and base of the tail need particular attention as these are very prone to becoming infected due to the poor blood supply of the tissues under the skin.
Strong disinfectants should be avoided when treating wounds in animals. It is much more important to clean the area by flushing with water or saline. Most chemical disinfectants cause damage to the surrounding cells and white blood cells that are mobilized by the body to help fight infection and promote healing.
Bee stings in puppies or small breeds can cause considerable swelling of the affected part and sometimes more generalized reactions. If the animal suddenly yelps whilst playing in the grass or sniffing clover flowers, look for the sting on the nose or paw and if found, gently scrape the sting from the surface of the skin with a blunt knife or even the finger nail. Attempts to pull the sting out with forceps only succeed in injecting more venom into the tissues. Bathe the area with cold water to reduce swelling.
Treatment of minor wounds is best done by first clipping the hair around the injured part, bathe with water or saline and avoid thick ointments that matt the hair over the wound making it difficult to detect any subsequent infection.