Your pet is injured or acting sick, what do you do next? With the warmer weather here, we see a lot more pet injury emergencies. I thought I’d discuss some common injuries and diseases and help you know when you do or don’t need to call your veterinarian.
Toenail injuries in dogs are fairly common as they start getting more active. We’ll see dogs that pull their nails off and we see dogs that get their nails trimmed a little too far back, into the quick. Dog nails do tend to bleed quite a lot when torn or cut too short. If you cut a nail too short, you can try to pack the nail with cornstarch or flour. If you are well prepared, you have a product called Kwik Stop on hand, or styptic powder. If your dog pulls off his nail, and the nail bed is exposed, you can gently clean the area with warm water, or saline rinse if you have some, apply a styptic powder to help stop the bleeding and bandage or boot the foot to protect the sensitive nail bed. Please note, it is very easy to wrap a dog’s foot incorrectly which can lead to serious side effects, so it is always best to have a veterinarian apply the bandage. If the nail is only partially removed, it will either need to be trimmed back or completely removed. This is best done by a veterinarian, so the procedure is done quickly, correctly and your dog is given at least some topical anesthetic and pain medication. Some pets require general anesthesia to remove a torn nail, it hurts!
Another grooming injury we see is cats that are cut with scissors or clippers while having their coats trimmed, or being given lion clip. It’s great to trim a cat’s coat down short to help stop matts, keep them cool in the summer and to decrease the amount of debris they get caught in their coat. However, once the skin is cut, your cat needs to go to the veterinarian. Don’t put glue or anything else on your cat’s skin. Believe me that will make things worse. Older cats tend to have more of a problem, their skin seems thinner and they are often bonier, so they are more difficult to trim.
The bees are out and bee stings are fairly common this time of year. If you see a stinger in your pet’s skin, you can try to remove it by scraping it out with the edge of a credit card. You can also apply a cold compress to the area; my personal favorite at home remedy for a cold compress is a bag of frozen peas- wrapped in a towel so it’s not too cold against the skin. Baking soda/water paste applied to the area can neutralize some of the venom. If you find your pet (most of the time we see dogs) with a swollen face, that could be from a bee. At this point, you should call your vet and take your pet in for injections of antihistamine, and possibly corticosteroid. In the future, the vet may give you a dose of antihistamine to use at home for future incidences of bee sting reactions.
Lastly, I wanted to discuss transporting an injured pet to the vet clinic. Many guidelines that apply to humans apply to pets. You want to try to decrease movement and blood loss during transport. Also, remember, when injured, even our own pets may react in a way that can injure us. Placing a cat in a carrier or box is often the safest option. For dog’s that won’t fit in a carrier, you may have to carry on a blanket. You can also try to secure to a board if you want to try to decrease movement. I recommend a soft muzzle tied on an injured dog’s nose prior to transport to prevent a bite wound to the caregivers. Using a leg from a pair of nylons or any other soft piece of material to tie around the muzzle and behind the head. There is a good article I linked to the Wilderness Vet Facebook page on muzzle placement. Note, never use tape to secure a pet to a board or as a muzzle. Removing the tape can only make things worse for a frightened, injured animal. If there is bleeding, applying direct pressure to the wound is appropriate, if the pet will allow.
One last bit of advice. Being hit by a car is one of the most common trauma cases we see. Obviously, the amount of injury can be significant. The most common pets I see that are hit by cars are intact, meaning, they aren’t spayed or neutered. The urge to mate is very strong in our pets, and as the warm weather increases so do those urges. Spaying and neutering can go a long way to prevent injury in our pets.
Enjoy the warm weather- and as usual if you have any questions feel free to contact us, either through our website or Facebook page. Wilderness Animal Hospital is a sponsor for the Farmer’s Market again, so look for me in a booth a couple of Saturdays this summer, make sure to stop by and say Hi!