Handling Pet Emergencies

The holiday season brings all sorts of poisoning risks

Be Prepared and Keep Your Pet Safe From Holiday Poisoning Hazards
Be Prepared and Keep Your Pet Safe From Holiday Poisoning Hazards

and holiday health hazards for pets, and while it’s always a good idea for pet owners to educate themselves about household pet dangers and what foods, plants and household items are toxic to pets, accidents will inevitably occur.

For this reason, all pet owners should keep two phone numbers on-hand at all times in the event that a pet emergency arises: the phone number to the nearest 24-hour veterinary clinic and the number for the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline (888-426-4435).

When a pet is injured or sick – especially when a pet has been poisoned – minutes count, so you can’t waste time searching for the nearest open vet clinic or searching the internet for a number to a pet poison control hotline. A pet-related emergency is also very scary and emotionally taxing, so having those two vital phone numbers on-hand is key.

I also recommend familiarizing yourself with the driving route to the nearest 24-hour animal hospital. When a pet emergency is unfolding, your mind is often clouded with fear and worry – the last thing you want is to get lost on the way to the animal hospital and have your pet die because you didn’t get help in time.

Also make sure that the 24-hour animal hospital can treat your pet  – some 24-hour vet clinics only treat cats and dogs. You may need to visit another animal hospital for avian or exotic veterinary services.

I’ve had numerous pet emergencies unfold in the home and I can tell you from experience that it’s absolutely terrifying. We’ve had dogs with broken bones, we’ve had eye protrusion where my Chihuahua’s eyeball literally popped out of the socket, we’ve had severe allergic reactions, we’ve had an elderly dog with bad hips fall, gashing open his head right down to the bone – and I could go on and on. Fear grips your entire body and your blood runs cold. Your mind is clouded and thinking clearly is a challenge. This is not the time to be looking for phone numbers for the vet or pet poison control hotline.

The ASPCA Pet Poison Control Hotline in particular is a really valuable resource for pet owners. There is a $60 fee to use the hotline, which is staffed 24/7/365. Pet owners can call the pet poison control hotline and the staff can tell you if your pet ingested a poisonous substance, and if so, they can calculate whether your pet may have ingested a toxic dose.

The hotline staff can also direct pet owners on when and how to induce vomiting and they’ll also direct pet owners on how to administer other life-saving first aid to a pet who’s been poisoned. The services this hotline provides are vital because in some cases, it may be too late by the time you reach the vet clinic. Acting quickly and properly at home is key during many pet poisoning incidents.

Pet owners should also keep a fully stocked pet first aid kit on-hand and learn a few basics about pet first aid – you never know when you’ll need to use those skills. Evaluating your pet’s health is key, so every pet owner should know how to take a pet’s temperature, how to examine a pet’s gums, how to check capillary refill time and heart rate/pulse. Also consider taking a course in pet CPR – I’ve used these skills twice and it made the difference between life and death for two animals.

In short, be prepared to handle a pet emergency, especially with all those holiday hazards to dogs, cats, birds and other pets. You never know when a pet will get sick or injured and  what you learn may very well save your pet’s life.

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Mia Carter is a professional journalist and animal lover. Her furry family members include 6 dogs and 12 cats. She is also a feral cat colony caretaker. Carter specializes in pet training and special needs pet care. All of her animals have special needs such as paralysis, blindness, deafness and FIV, just to name a few. She also serves as a pet foster parent and she actively rehabilitates and rescues local strays and feral kittens.

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