There are various illnesses or injuries that befall pets throughout their lives. Sometimes they’re sneaky and don’t arouse suspicion. Other times, obvious symptoms ring the bell that a pet emergency is unfolding right now.

When faced with a sick or injured pet, it’s easy to panic. Knowing what to do for them isn’t always clear, but when you train for this eventuality you’re doing a favor that benefits both you and your pet.

To that end, we offer 5 things to remember when dealing with a serious, potentially life-threatening situation.

  1. Stay Calm

We know this easier said than done, but it’s worth repeating. Your state of mind can have a significant impact on the direction of your pet’s outcome, and if you panic their health can be at greater risk.

According to research on emergency preparedness, our human brains go through 3 stages during the decision-making process: Denial, deliberation and decisive action. When a pet emergency is unfolding before you, it’s ideal if you can rely on your preparation to effectively guide the crisis. Deep breathing can reduce your speeding heart rate and allow for more emotional control.

  1. Be Prepared

You can certainly hope to avoid a pet emergency and do everything possible to prevent one. But life happens. To meet potentially unavoidable circumstances, be prepared. Stock and restock items in your pet first aid kit. Know what everything is and how to use it in the case of various injuries. 

Additionally, we recommend having our phone number in your contact list (210) 681-1391. We are open Monday – Friday 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. If your pet emergency is after hours, we can advise you on the closest emergency veterinary hospital. 

If you are travelling out of our area, always be prepared to contact a veterinary hospital near your location. Always have your pet’s medical records with you or available through an online database.

  1. Getting Schooled

It’s always better to have skills and not need to use them, than the other way around. Beyond simply having a first aid kit, we encourage you to register for a first aid/CPR class in order to learn:

  • How to check vital signs
  • Ways to control bleeding
  • How to pick up or restrain an injured pet
  • How to administer CPR or rescue breathing
  • The signs of heat stroke or hypothermia
  • Ways to treat poisoning or toxicity
  • How to handle seizures, shock, broken bones, wounds, burns, and more
  1. Comfort Measures

A pet emergency can be incredibly frightening – for both people and pets alike. If you are able to stabilize and comfort your pet in order to pursue emergency care, they may fare better. But how can you comfort a pet that is beside themselves with pain, fear, and confusion? 

An important thing to remember is that a sick or hurt pet will not act like themselves. As a result, the way you previously calmed them down (such as stroking their back, holding them, or talking to them) might not work. Be careful not to get bitten or scratched by them, but find a makeshift stretcher or blanket to transport them in. 

  1. Have a Back Up Plan

The fifth and final thing to keep in mind is that sometimes our best laid plans backfire. As a result, we recommend having a back up plan for all sorts of contingencies. If you live alone with your pet, be sure that you have a couple people that live nearby that you can count on to assist you with a pet emergency. 

When It’s a Pet Emergency…

We truly hope that you’ll never need to rely on these tips, but one thing is certain. The more prepared you are, the better the outcome. 

Our staff at Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital is always here if you have additional questions regarding how to handle a pet emergency.