Being a pet parent is hard during this pandemic, where finances and logistics are both a challenge. It gets even harder when we have a pet emergency.
Understanding the normal behavior of your pet will help determine if it’s time to rush to your vet before it’s too late. It is also a plus to have a personal relationship with your vet so you can reach out to her/him easily.
Here are some tips that will help quell that panic when you feel you need to rush to the clinic.Any changes in your pet’s behavior and eating habits should be well noted. This will enable you to tell if your pet is sick.
Appetite is always a good indicator if your pet is sick or not. It is good to keep to a feeding schedule so you don’t panic at odd hours because your pet refuses to eat.
Bad poop (slimy, watery or hard as a rock with foul odor) or no poop is a sign that you need to go to your vet.
Urination should also be observed. A blocked male dog or cat (meaning, unable to urinate) is always an emergency case. Frequent trips of your cat to the litter box are also a sign that it’s time to see your vet.
Watch out for the following: Pale gums may indicate blood abnormalities and abnormal blood circulation. Pale gums can also indicate a blood or infectious disease.
Check for high or low body temperature. The normal body temperature of your pet is between 38.3 to 39.2 ºC. Check his temperature with a rectal thermometer.
Always keep in mind that when you’re walking your dog on a hot pavement, you’re wearing shoes for protection and your dog isn’t.
If your pet’s temperature is too high, offer a few ice cubes and wrap him in a cold towel until you arrive at your vet’s. If his temperature is too low, place a warm bottle wrapped in towel near his body until you get to the clinic.
The normal resting respiratory rate of a dog is between 15 to 30 breaths per minute, and 20 to 30 breathes per minute for a cat. Respiratory rate that’s too fast or too slow is a health emergency.
Bleeding of any form needs to be attended to by a vet. For a bleeding wound, prevent further blood loss on your way to the hospital with a temporary tourniquet.
Pet injuries of any kind should be taken seriously. And remember that no matter how good a dog or cat is, be sure to protect yourself when handling them while they’re injured. A reliable crate would come in handy in situations like this. Use a thick blanket or towel in handling an injured pet, or better yet, let the professionals handle it.
Seizures of any form should be taken seriously, and loss of consciousness is always a medical emergency.
Ingestion of toxins is also an emergency. As a responsible pet owner, educate yourself on what is good and bad for your pet. Some of the things your pet can’t eat are alcohol, apple seeds, candy (because they contain xylitol, a toxic sweetener), chocolates (an ounce of milk chocolate per pound of body weight is dangerous for your dog), and onions (which cause blood hemolysis, or rupture of red blood cells).
Invest in your pet’s nutrition. Talk to your vet about what is best for your pet, and do your own research also.
Make sure your pet’s vaccination and deworming are updated. Many medical emergencies are due to infectious diseases that are easily prevented by vaccines.
Know your pet. Be vigilant. Any unusual behavior is a sign that there is something wrong with him.
And, don’t forget: do not touch other dogs and cats without their owner’s permission, not only because some pets may have behavioral issues but also for hygiene reasons.
Mask on and keep safe. —CONTRIBUTED INQ
The author is the veterinarian-founder of Philippine Pet Birth Control Center Foundation Inc.