IndyVet Emergency & Specialty Hospital

Pet Tips

Prepare for the Unexpected
During the course of your pet's life there may come a time when your four-legged friend becomes sick or injured. Sometimes it is so gradual over the course of time you don't really notice the changes taking place. At other times it can be sudden and unexpected as in the case of an animal attack or being struck by a vehicle. Both instances can be traumatic, not only to your pet, but to you as well. So what can you do?

Being prepared for the unexpected is the key. It is essential to have a plan in place and know what to do in the event of an emergency. Preparation consists of:
  1. Prepare yourself to not panic. This is the most important thing. In an emergency it is natural to panic, to rush, to forget things. Time is of the essence in an emergency. Sometimes a matter of minutes can be life or death. Just remember, stay calm, follow your plan and transport your pet safely to a veterinary emergency center.
  2. Knowing and having all emergency numbers posted for easy access. During an emergency there is nothing worse than going through the phonebook, calling information, or looking online for the number. Posting the numbers of your veterinarian and a veterinary emergency center are vitally important and can help you save time in an emergency.
  3. Never get online during an emergency. Time is essential. The less time it takes for you to have your pet seen the better. Just remember, prepare prior to the emergency.
  4. Creating a pet first aid kit and knowing how to use it. This is very important. Having basic first aid tools and knowing how to use them is essential in an emergency. This can be lifesaving.
  5. Attending a pet first aid and CPR course. At IndyVet we believe it is important for you to have the knowledge necessary to provide basic emergency care. Twice yearly we offer a class that teaches the basics of first aid and CPR to teach these techniques. Classes (which are open to the public) are held in the spring and in the fall.
  6. Obtain the knowledge necessary to assist your pet in an emergency. The Red Cross has a pet first aid manual for both dogs and cats and can be purchased on their website at
  7. Planning out what you would do in the event of an emergency. Having a plan on how you are going to handle an emergency is very important. It can be written out or put in the form of a checklist posted on the refrigerator. A copy of this should also be placed in your emergency first aid kit. The list should contain things such as transportation, assistance, where to go, etc. When writing your plan consider questions like:
    1. Where is the first aid kit kept?
      • Place the kit in a centralized location where all family members have access to it.
    2. What would you do first in an emergency?
      • Don't panic and protect yourself so you don't get bitten. Using thick leather gloves offers some protection from being bitten.
      • Make sure they can breathe, then stop any bleeding. Use your tools in the first aid kit to stop or slow the blood flow.
    3. Directions to the nearest emergency center with the phone number.
      • Printing out a map to the nearest veterinary emergency facility and driving by it can also help. This would eliminate some of the feelings of being lost, unfamiliar with your surroundings, and the general feeling of uncertainty. You would know the precise location, how long it would take to get there, etc.
    4. Who could be contacted for assistance?
      • Family members, neighbors and close friends along with their addresses and phone numbers should be on this list. Place it with your emergency phone numbers as well as in your kit.
    5. Where are your pet insurance card and your pet's past medical records located?
      • Having and bringing a copy of your pet's insurance card and their medical record is also very helpful. Having a pre-approved line of credit available for an emergency is also helpful (Care Credit, etc.)
      • Having more than one copy of your insurance card and past medical records placed around your house and in your car is also recommended. It is always a good idea to have your pet's medical history with you.
    6. Where are your pet's medications located so you may bring them with you to the emergency center?
      • If your pet is on any medications or has an allergy to some medications it is vital that you bring that information with you. In an emergency it is easy to forget what medication and the dosage of medication your pet is on.
    7. What things do you need to bring with you when you go to the emergency center?
      • Be prepared to bring anything that will help the veterinarian deliver treatment. If your pet would ingest poison, make sure you bring the box the poison was in. The more data the veterinarian has, the better.

The thing to remember is if you notice something about your pet that isn't normal, don't wait to see if it will get better. Don't second guess yourself. You know what is normal for your pet. If they are acting oddly, it is better to have a veterinarian examine your pet and say they are fine, than to wait. Many problems that will become serious start out with minor symptoms.

Supplies for your First Aid Kit
As you are getting prepared for an emergency you can assemble a first aid kit. The question is what to put in it? The normal over-the-counter bandaids won't work. Here are some recommended items that may be included in your kit:

  • Leash
  • Roll of gauze bandage
  • A cohesive bandage
  • Gauze squares 3X3 inches
  • Blanket
  • Towel
  • Tweezers
  • Rubber gloves
  • Telfa pads
  • Tongue depressors
  • Triple antibiotic ointment
  • Betadine scrubs/pads
  • Alcohol pads
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Muzzle (a cage muzzle is best in the event of breathing problems)
  • Heavy leather gloves
  • Thermometer
  • Hemostat
  • Q-tips
  • Stethoscope
  • Penlight
  • Bandage scissors
  • Eyewash solution
  • Bandage tape
  • Cotton balls
  • Scissors, small with a blunt end
  • Styptic powder
  • Wire cutters, small

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