Accidents and emergencies don't just happen to humans, and while first aid is no substitute for emergency veterinary care, basic first aid knowledge can be crucial for treating certain injuries and in preventing symptoms or situations from worsening.
In critical emergencies, opting to administer first aid before heading to your veterinarian could make the difference between the life and death of your pet.
As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to try and ensure the safety and well being of your pet at all times. With that in mind, here is our guide to basic first aid for pets.
External bleeding is typically the sign of a fight with another pet or an accident, and unless it is a severe wound and/or located on the legs, it can usually be dealt with relatively quickly and simply
In order to establish the site of the injury, you may need to muzzle your pet, as they may be in some pain. Once you have located the injury, press a thick, clean gauze pad over the wound and apply pressure until the blood begins to clot. It may take a number of minutes for the clot to gain enough strength to sufficiently stop the bleeding, so instead of checking every few seconds, hold the gauze in place for at least two minutes before lifting to check if the bleeding has ceased.
If your pet has severe blood loss from the legs, use a thin strip of gauze, elastic band or similar material to create tourniquet between the wound and the body. Once it is in place, you should cover the wound with a gauze pad and continue to apply gentle pressure.
Loosen the tourniquet for about 30 seconds every 15 to 20 minutes so that you don’t cut off the circulation from the wound entirely, and get someone to drive you to an emergency veterinarian immediately as severe blood loss can be fatal.
It may not always be possible to tell that your pet is bleeding internally, but some of the symptoms that you can look out for include:
Coughing up blood
Bleeding from the nose, mouth or rectum
Blood in urine
Rapid pulse rate
If any of the above symptoms present themselves, make your pet as warm and comfortable as possible, and take them straight to your emergency veterinarian.
If your pet suffers from any form of burn injury, you should first muzzle your pet, then apply large quantities of ice-cold water to the affected area.
In the case of chemical burns, the water should be free-flowing in order to cleanse the skin as much as possible. Otherwise, hold an ice-cold compress to the burned area and immediately transport your pet to your emergency veterinary service.
Choking is just as common in pets as it is in humans, and knowing how to assist your pet if they choke could save the life of your pet. Symptoms of choking include:
Struggling to breathe
Pawing at the mouth and nose
Lips or tongue turning blue
Since your pet will be in an extreme state of panic, it is more likely that they may accidentally bite you, so using caution, try and look into your pet's mouth to see if any blockages are immediately visible. If you can see something obstructing your pet’s airway, carefully try and remove it using tongs, pliers or tweezers, taking extreme care not to push the item further into the esophagus. If it is not easily removed, don’t spend extra time trying to reach it.
If you are unable to remove the object or your pet collapses, you should try and force air from the lungs in an attempt to push the object out from the other direction. The way you should do this is by putting both of your hands on the side of your pet’s rib cage and applying short, sharp bursts of firm pressure.
Keep doing this until you manage to dislodge the foreign object or until you arrive at the emergency veterinary service.
Every parent to a furry pet knows how much of a nuisance fleas can be. At best, your pets become itchy and skittish, but at worst they become miserable and lethargic. And just like ticks, fleas can be a vector for disease for you and your pets! Fleas can be partly responsible for roundworms or flatworms as well as for infections including typhus, spotted fever, cat-scratch fever, or more rarely, the plague.
So what can we do? The best first step is prevention, but if that fails, there are ways to spot the beginnings of a flea infestation as well as ways to stop it in its tracks.
Stop an infestation before it can start! When winter turns to spring and the weather starts to warm up, don't wait until you notice fleas on your pets or their playmates. You'll have a much happier home if you follow these easy steps:
Keep your home clean. Vacuum your house regularly, especially if you have deep pile rugs, and make sure your pet's favorite spaces are regularly cleaned/washed, aired out, and preferably getting plenty of sunlight.
Clean yards fend off more than ticks. Keeping a clean yard, including mowed lawns and trimmed foliage, will drastically reduce the potential for fleas in your outdoor areas. Keeping any trash, especially foods, carefully sealed for disposal will help keep away other animals that are likely to harbor fleas
Use flea treatments. There are a number of options for flea treatments available based on the type of pet you have and their age, including spot-on treatments, oral chews, and flea collars. Always read the instructions carefully to avoid harming your pet. And of course, always feel free to come in and talk to our staff about what treatments are best for your pet.
Consider professional pest control. This option isn't always in a pet owner's budget, and it should always be considered carefully to ensure the best health for your pets, plants, and fish. This can also help prevent other potentially nasty bugs from biting you and your animals, including mosquitoes.
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, fleas find their way into our homes and onto us and our animals. Maybe it's because you live in an apartment and they hitch a ride on your neighbor's dog, or perhaps your selected flea treatment didn't last as long as you expected it to or wasn't effective at all.
No matter the reason, we've got a few tips on how to identify a flea infestation as early as possible. The earlier you identify it, the earlier you can get it under control!
Comb your pet regularly. You can monitor your pet's fur for fleas at multiple stages and check their skin for irritations, bite marks, or other signs of fleas, such as eggs or detritus (blackish-red "flea dirt"). You want to pay close attention to favored locations, such as the back of the head and around the ears, the armpits, or the rump. Remember: fleas will jump on and off of you and your pet, so finding signs of fleas is important, even if you do not find fleas themselves.
Fleas love to jump. Fleas are tiny and quick, but they usually appear in groups once the infestation has started. You'll probably be able to feel them jumping on and off of you, especially your feet and lower legs. Your pet's skin will probably also "jump," as they twitch from the movement of fleas (as opposed to being bitten).
Keep an eye on your pet's behavior. Are they scratching more than usual? Are they pulling their fur out? Do they have dermatitis? Are they biting at the same area over and over? These are all potential signs that fleas are present. Note: If this behavior is present, but you cannot find any other signs of fleas, take your pet in to be checked by a veterinarian so that they can ensure there are no other health problems.
White brings fleas to light. Sometimes it can be hard to determine if the evidence you're finding is of fleas, instead of just plain dirt, especially if your pet spends a lot of time outside. Put down white paper towels when you comb your pet with the flea comb so that you can check the detritus that falls off the pet onto the paper towel or is stuck on the comb to see if it's like dried blood, or if it looks like the earth around your home. Also, if you wear white socks, you'll be able to see the fleas jumping on and off of you.
Fleas don't just jump on you. In fact, individually they don't even spend most of their time on you or your pet. Check your pet's favorite places — the dog bed where they love to flop, the spot on the overstuffed chair where your cat loves to sun itself, or even the places in the house where they play the most. Fleas will leave behind similar detritus on your surroundings as they do on your pet.
Check all of your pets. If one pet is exhibiting signs of fleas, but your other pet's behavior hasn't changed and they don't scratch themselves much, that doesn't mean the fleas only want to eat one pet, it might just mean that your other pet isn't allergic to flea bites.
Anemia is a concern. Be sure to keep an eye on your pets during regular care and grooming. Lethargy, weakness, and even pale gums can be signs that they're anemic meaning that a high number of fleas are sucking their blood. Be sure to see your veterinarian so your pet can get well!
With thousands of unwanted dogs living in shelters and desperately looking for new homes, we highly recommend that you consider adopting one of these puppies or adult dogs. You will be able to find details of your local shelters and rescue centers online. However, if your heart is set on a purebred puppy then the very first thing you should do is find a reputable breeder.
Unfortunately, there are many people out there who view breeding purely as a source of income and have very little concern for either the current or future welfare of their puppies. However, by asking the right questions and making some careful observations, it is possible to distinguish between them and knowledgeable and professional breeders. Here is our guide to helping you find a reputable breeder for your future pet.
Cats are known for being notoriously fussy creatures. They demand attention when it suits them, but reject snuggling with their owner when it doesn’t. They are picky eaters, can appear aloof and indifferent to their owners and seem pretty happy to go it alone most of the time.
This fussy attitude often even extends to their sleeping habits, and many owners have gone out and spent a considerable amount of money to provide a large, plush and expensive cat bed, only to find that their kitty refuses to sleep in it. But is she just being fussy, or is there an ulterior motive for this behavior?
According to animal behavior experts, most cats prefer to sleep and hang out in places with good vantage points, which comes from their natural survival instincts. A high position for sleeping or resting gives them an aerial advantage for spotting any potential dangers around them. Much of this instinct comes from their ancestry. Early cats were hunters that lived in the wild, and their climbing ability meant that they had somewhere to retreat to away from larger predators in addition to the capability of attacking smaller prey high up in the branches.
When a person or animal is unwell, external symptoms and blood test results may only tell part of the story. Advances in medical technology mean that it is now possible to see what is actually happening inside the body. One of the procedures that is being used in humans as well as animals, including horses, is called an endoscopy.
An endoscopy can be used to view and analyze many parts of a horse including the upper respiratory tract as well as parts of the gastrointestinal, reproductive and urinary tracts in order to help veterinarians make accurate diagnoses and recommendations for treatment on a wide range of health problems.
There are two main types of endoscopies available in the equine veterinary field. They are:
This is the most common type of endoscope used for investigative surgery in horses. The endoscope is made up of a bunch of optical fibers that are enclosed within a waterproof rubber tube. The tube is passed into the horse’s body either through a natural body cavity or through a surgical incision. The area is illuminated by a light source that passes through the fiber optics and then examined using an eyepiece that is attached to the external end of the fiber-optic cable.
This more advanced version of the endoscope has a tiny microchip video camera on the end of the scope which relays live feedback to a television screen in the room. This means that multiple people can view the feed, and it can be recorded and played back at a later time.
Homeopathy is a medical philosophy and practice based on the theory that by using the correct natural substances, the body can heal itself. Homeopathic remedies are used by more than 200 million people around the globe to treat a wide range of conditions.
The underlying principle is that the same substance that causes symptoms when given in a large dose, could also cure those symptoms if administered in a small dose. The trick is to find the remedy that best matches the symptoms.
Holistic medicines are derived from entirely natural substances such as minerals, plants and animal matter which stimulate the immune system and promote natural self-healing.
While omeopathic remedies are completely natural and safe for the majority of humans and pets, your veterinarian will be able to advise you if there is any reason why homeopathy may not be suitable for your pet.
Homeopathy in animals has had so many success stories that an increasing number of veterinarians are studying, gaining qualifications in, and practicing the principles.
Homeopathy has had proven results in an extensive range of chronic and acute conditions including:
Digestive and endocrine diseases
Fleas, skin and coat disorders
Heart and kidney diseases
Bone and joint disorders
Ears, eyes, nose and mouth problems
Immune system disorders
Mood and behavior problems
Reproductive system problems
Viruses and acute infections
Healing and recovery
Once you have decided to make a new pet a part of your family, the first concern you should have is with making them comfortable. After your pet has settled into your home, a good next step would be to think about training which can help to ensure that the behaviors they exhibit are primarily desirable ones.
Whilst dogs have earned a reputation as ‘man’s best friend’ thanks to their loyal and affectionate nature, they can sometimes possess frustrating habits or personality traits that make them difficult to live with, just like their human counterparts.
Training your dog will be hugely beneficial for your dog to learn to live harmoniously alongside his human family. It will strengthen his bond with your family and ensure his safety when out and about.
What is the best method to train my dog?
There are many different schools of thought concerning how to best train a dog. Some owners prefer strict training with punishments for non-compliance, whilst others prefer to praise positive behavior and ignore undesirable reactions. Studies have shown that as a general rule, the latter method works best, but however you decide to train your dog, you will need to consistently control the consequences of your dogs’ behavior in order for the training to be effective.
Since dogs cannot relate events that are separated by time, the consequences to negative behavior need to be immediate. Just as you cannot praise your dog several minutes after returning to you when called since he will not understand why he is receiving it. The easiest way to train a dog is to reward the behaviors that you like and not those that you don’t.
If your dog likes the reward you give them, they will be more likely to repeat that behavior so they can receive it again i.e. love, attention, and praise.
If they dislike the consequences, then they will do the behavior less often.
It really is that simple, but being consistent is vital to a successful training plan, otherwise, you will send mixed messages to your pet. For example, if you do not want your pet to jump on you (which they do to get your attention) then ignore them until they calm down. Once they have calmed down, be sure to praise and make a fuss over them. This will help them to learn that this is the way that you prefer them to behave. It may take several days or weeks of doing this, but your dog will soon learn the correct behavior to exhibit.
While for many people the concept of grooming your pet conjures up notions of brushes and bows, it is, in fact, a vital element to their overall health and wellbeing. Regularly grooming your animal allows any underlying diseases or conditions to be caught early which means earlier and more efficient diagnosis and treatment.
If you have a puppy or a kitten, it will be important for you to begin training them to like or at least tolerate the grooming process, which will be beneficial to them as they reach maturity. This is especially true of nail clipping and ear cleaning which requires them to sit completely still for the process.
Reputable breeders will often begin grooming their litters as soon as they are old enough to help get them used to the process. However, despite training and conditioning, not all animals enjoy the grooming process and many owners find it easier to send their pet to a professional groomer instead. Even if you do opt to use a professional pet groomer, there are still a number of regular grooming techniques that you can do at home with your pet to strengthen your bond.
Here are some of the important benefits of pet grooming.
Heartworm is a serious illness that can cause heart failure, lung disease, organ damage and even death in dogs, cats and ferrets. Heartworm is most prevalent in pets living along the Atlantic Gulf coasts from New Jersey to the Gulf of Mexico as well as in those living alongside the Mississippi and its main tributaries. However, it has been found in pets in all states across America.
Heartworm is caused by parasitic worm larvae that live inside mosquitoes. When the mosquito bites an animal, it transfers some of the worm larvae into the animal where the larvae then mature, mate, and produce offspring inside its living host. The offspring produced by female adult heartworms is known as microfilariae, which lives in the host animals’ bloodstream. When a mosquito then bites an infected animal it draws microfilariae into its body where it turns it into infective larvae, beginning the cycle again.
Once an animal has been infected, it takes time for the larvae to mature into adults that are capable of reproduction. In dogs, this period is usually 6-7 months and in cats and ferrets is around 8 months. Adult heartworms look like cooked spaghetti and can range in size from 4-6 inches in males and 10-12 inches in females. The number of worms found in a pet is known as its ‘worm burden’ and can vary depending on the species of animal and the severity of the infection.
The lifespan of heartworms within an infected dog is between 5 and 7 years with the average worm burden being 15. However, dogs have been seen with worm burdens ranging from 1 to 250.
The severity of symptoms of heartworm in dogs is dependent on the worm burden of the animal, how long they have been infected, and how well their body can cope with the disease. However, it is usually broken down into four stages.
Class 1: No visible symptoms or very mild symptoms, such as an intermittent cough or wheeze.
Class 2: Mild to more moderate symptoms including intermittent coughing, lethargy or breathlessness after light to moderate exercise. At this time, some heart and lung changes may be seen on x-rays.
Class 3: Symptoms will include frequent or persistent coughing, lethargy, and breathlessness after mild activity. Heart and lung changes will definitely be visible on x-rays.
Class 4: This stage is otherwise known as Caval Syndrome and is reached when an infected animal has been left untreated for an extended period of time. At this stage, the animal experiences restricted blood flow to the heart caused by a blockage of worms. Heart failure is imminent and emergency surgery to remove the worms is the only course of action. However, this comes with its own risks and most dogs with Caval Syndrome do not survive.
Ticks are arachnids that belong to the same family as spiders and mites. They are parasitic and feed on the blood of host animals. Ticks are visible to the naked eye but are only about the size of a pinhead before swelling with blood as they feast.
Animals living in the Southern States or near heavily wooded areas will have increased exposure to ticks as they like to live in thick, long grass and will attach to host animals as they walk by. They are most active during the late spring and summer months and are not fussy about what species of animals they feed on. However, animals that spend a lot of time outdoors will be more susceptible to ticks.
Animals with only a few ticks can present with little or no symptoms, which is why it is often not until there is a larger infestation or infection from the bites that signs become apparent. If and when symptoms do materialize, they can include itching, scratching and red or inflamed irritations on the skin.
Ticks can transmit a number of diseases including Babesia, Cytauxzoonosis, Lyme disease, and Mycoplasma. Some animals can also have allergic reactions to tick bites which can result in infections. Symptoms from these reactions or diseases can include fever, lethargy, loss of appetite and pain and can last for several days or even weeks. If you are concerned that your pet has developed an illness from a tick bite, consult with your veterinarian as soon as possible.