No matter how careful you are as a pet owner, accidents happen. Whether it’s something minor, like a torn nail, or something more significant, like a snake bite, the time to prepare yourself is now. Pet-proof your home by removing poisonous plants and locking cleaners and human medications behind cabinet doors. Educate yourself now to handle emergency situations in the most informed way possible.
Here are the 10 most common pet injuries and what to do if they happen:
1. Bites and scratches from other animals: Turf battles happen, even between the best of friends. Dogs and cats who have grown up together still have issues from time-to-time. Most lacerations and bites happen between pets who live in the same home. Wild animals are also a scratch/bite threat. If your pet is scratched or bitten, a trip to the vet is necessary.
2. Being hit by a car: It’s every pet owner’s nightmare. Trauma from a collision with a vehicle can be hidden for days, or even weeks. A veterinarian must evaluate your dog or cat, even when the pet seems fine.
3. Eye Trauma: Eye trauma can be caused by a low-hanging branch or a scratch from another pet. If you see your pet blinking and notice excessive tearing, it’s time to head to the vet.
4. Torn nails: Pet nails bleed profusely if torn. If you trim your pet’s nails yourself, keep styptic powder on hand in case you clip a little too close to the blood line. If bleeding doesn’t stop or if a nail is badly torn, call the vet.
5. Burrowing foreign bodies: Burrs and foxtails attach to a pet’s fur and burrow into the skin. In the worst case, they burrow deeply enough to reach internal organs. Brush fur after pets have been outdoors and remove any burrs or foreign objects. Don’t forget to check the ears.
6. Snake bites: Snake bites get a category all their own. Keep your dog leashed on hikes and check your backyard to make sure your pets stay safe. If your pet is bitten, stay calm and get to the vet as soon as possible.
7. Spider bites and bee stings: Bee stings and insect and spider bites are common. A single bee sting in a non-allergic pet can be treated at home with an ice pack and water and baking soda mixture to relieve pain. If a stinger is present, use a piece of rigid cardboard or your fingernail to scrape it off. Don’t use tweezers – squeezing the stinger releases more venom. Multiple stings or severe spider bites require a vet visit. Also, rush to the vet if you see signs of allergic reactions, such as breathing difficulties, severe swelling and overall weakness.
8. Back injuries: Back injuries cause great pain and in some cases, paralysis. Take your pet to the vet as soon as possible.
9. Poisoning: Pets can be poisoned be any number of objects in the home, such as plants, cleaners, human medications and foods, including grapes, raisins and onions. Contact Animal Poison Control immediately if your suspect your pet ate a poisonous substance.
10. Foreign body ingestion: Nearly everything small enough to fit into a pet’s mouth has been swallowed and surgically removed by a vet sometime somewhere. Many foreign objects follow the digestive tract and expel themselves. Some do not. If a pet begins vomiting repeatedly, loses its appetite or shows other signs of illness, it’s a trip to the vet.
An important thing to remember if your pet suffers from one or multiple injuries is that they are common, and happen to literally every pet and pet owner at some time. The key to being a safe pet owner is being able to look for and identify the symptoms of an injured pet, so you can get them help as soon as possible.