April: Pet First Aid Awareness Month

Pet Health and Safety  •   Pam Karkow  •   Apr 03, 2017

On Dr. Seuss’s birthday, I made green eggs and ham for my human children, like any good mom.  When there were leftovers, our furry child happily finished them off.  I didn’t think another thing about that meal, that is until our sweet pooch began vomiting foamy green stuff.  Then I didn’t quite feel like mom of the year.  Like Sam I Am (up until the end of the book), our Summerdog’s digestive system did not like green eggs and ham. 


You probably know what to do when your child skins his knee or knocks his tooth out.  But do you know what to do if your dog is vomiting green froth?  What about if your cat is bitten by another animal?  Brush up on your pet first aid skills in honor of Pet First Aid Awareness Month, celebrated during the month of April.


Dehydration  Water is considered the most important nutrient for a dog’s body, even more critical to survival than food.  As a dog goes about his day, doing normal doggy things like panting and going potty, he needs to replace the water he loses or he may experience dehydration.  Some signs of dehydration are loss of elasticity in the skin, xerostomina, and sunken eyes.  If you suspect your dog is dehydrated, offer him water immediately.  If he will not drink, a vet visit and IV fluids may be necessary.  Petfinder’s blog post, Hydration 101 offers some great tips to keep your pup well hydrated.  Cats tend to be more finicky about their water, and something as simple as dissatisfaction with drinking water can cause a cat to stop drinking and experience dehydration.  Investing in a water fountain, like this Drinkwell Original Pet Fountain (if he prefers running water), or a large water bowl (to prevent whiskers rubbing on the bowl) can entice your cat to get his daily intake of water. 


Poisoning  I should have known not to feed our dog green food coloring.  Eggs were one of her favorite foods, and eggs can be good for dogs, just not with yellow 5 and blue 1!  Some signs of pet poisoning are drooling or foaming at the mouth, bleeding externally or internally, seizures and acting “out of it” or abnormal.  If you suspect poisoning, the best course of action is to call your veterinarian and/or the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-213-6680 immediately.  See our post, Preventing Accidental Pet Poisoning for more tips.


Seizures  The important things to remember in the event of a seizure are not to panic, to focus on your pet’s needs, and to avoid putting your hands near the pet’s mouth.  Low blood sugar is a common cause of seizure in puppies, and in older dogs and in cats, epilepsy is often to blame.  For more details on seizures in dogs, see PetMD’s Seizures and Convulsions in Dogs.  For more on seizures in cats, see Seizures and Convulsions in Cats.


Heat Stroke  Dogs cannot cool themselves by sweating like we can, and they also wear their fur coat year round.  Dogs can get some relief from panting, but excessive panting is a sign of being overheated and a panting cat is a sign of serious distress.  Never leave your dog or cat in a car, avoid walks during the hottest part of the day, and make sure to provide plenty of water and shade for animals who stay outside during the day.  Our post, Heat Safety Awareness Day provides tips on what to do if your pet is experiencing heat stroke.


Animal Bites  If you dog or cat is bitten by anything from another pet to a wild animal, he needs to be seen by your veterinarian.  Even if it seems like a minor wound, it could be become infected and it is difficult for you to know if there is internal damage.  Never attempt to break up a dog fight because you could be bitten. 


Two other things to include in your arsenal are the Pet First Aid App and a Pet First Aid Kit.  The Pet First Aid App offers step-by-step instructions, videos, and images for more than 25 common first aid emergencies.  Click here for the top five features of the app.  You can find it in the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.  Simply search for American Red Cross, then scroll down until you see Pet First Aid by American Red Cross.  Need a first aid kit?  Here is a link for your dog and one for your cat

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Pam Karkow

About the Author
Pam Karkow

Hi, I'm Pam. List maker, note taker, and avid reader. I'm married to my college sweetheart and we have three amazing kids, all of them boys. We also have one furry child, a golden retriever rescue dog. I have been blogging for PetPartners since 2015, and I love researching and writing tips about how to be a better pet parent. I spend most of my time sharing my adventures at lavenderandlaugh.com, where I share the ways I am learning to be a better wife and mom--to my two and four-legged children.