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Better safe than sorry: How to prepare for a pet emergency

  • Published
  • By Capt. Christina Elder, DVM
  • Offutt AFB Veterinary Treatment Facility

In June, we celebrate pet preparedness month! It’s always a good idea to be prepared for your pet in an emergency, because it’s not ‘if’ but ‘when’ an emergency will happen. There are tools and medications that you likely have in your medicine cabinet that are safe to give your pet in certain cases and could save your pet’s life or prevent an ER visit. Let’s cover the big ones:

  • Tools to Have Handy: Scissors, tweezers for ticks or pulling out sharp objects from the paw pads, thermometer. Normal temperature range for dogs is 99.5-102.5 and for cats is 100-102.5 F.
  • Allergic Reaction: If your pet develops hives, redness of the skin, or facial swelling they may be having a mild allergic reaction to something.
    • Treatment: Benadryl – 1 mg/1 lb. body weight, can give every 8 hours if needed. May cause sedative effect.
    • Can use for both dogs and cats.
    • WARNING: A severe allergic reaction can cause difficulty breathing, intense vomiting, or unconsciousness. If this occurs, call your veterinarian immediately.
  • Foreign Body/Toxin Ingestion: If your dog ate something they shouldn’t of (hello Labradors and chocolate!), you can induce vomiting to try and remove the foreign body or toxin.
    • Treatment: Hydrogen Peroxide - 1 Tbs/20 lbs. body weight, give one dose and wait 5-10 minutes. If no vomiting occurs, call your veterinarian.
    • WARNING: If your pet ate something sharp like a needle or fish hook, do NOT induce vomiting as this could cause more damage.
    • Do NOT use in cats! Cats are more sensitive to hydrogen peroxide and can cause ulcers.
  • Wounds: If your pet has an open skin wound, follow these steps:
    • Flush the wound with water to remove any debris.
    • Apply a small amount of Neosporin to keep the wound from getting infected.
    • If the wound is actively bleeding, apply pressure by with gauze and wrap to keep it protected and stop the bleeding.

I recommend having these tools and medications on hand in a special pet emergency bag for easy access, plus, you can take it on trips! And of course, in any case, call your veterinarian if you have questions or concerns. Lastly, make sure to program the closest vet ER into your phone so you can easily call and have the address on hand if you ever need it.

  • Urgent Pet Care (Papillion, NE): 402-597-2911, 8455 S 73rd Plaza
  • VCA Midwest 24 Hour Vet Referral & Emergency Center (Omaha, NE): 402-614-9000, 9706 Mockingbird Dr.

Captain Christina Elder is the Army veterinarian working for the Offutt AFB Veterinary Treatment Facility. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this article, or if you would like to schedule an appointment for your pet, please call the clinic at 402-294-6141. The clinic is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (closed from 12 p.m.-1p.m. for lunch). Appointments are available for any active duty or retired military personnel.

We hope to see you and your furry friend soon!