“Our dog has been bleeding since last night. Can you help?”
“Dr. Randolph will be in surgery for another 45 minutes. If we apply pressure to the wound can it wait, or should I call another veterinary hospital to find a doctor who can see her right away?” our receptionist asked.
“It’s not that kind of bleeding. The blood is coming from her rectum. It started last night, and this is the third office we’ve been to, and every doctor is either off or tied up. The first place we went wasn’t a veterinarian at all, just a boarding place.”
“Who is her regular doctor?” our staff member inquired.
“She doesn’t have one. She’s 10 years old and she’s never been sick before.”
“Have a seat right here, and I will call until I find a veterinarian who can see her right away.”
“No, don’t do that,” the pet owner replied. “We’ll just get back in the car and drive to the next office.”
This is a true story, and happened just last week.
When you were in kindergarten, you had fire drills, and learned how to be prepared in case an emergency occurred. When you took a job in corporate America, or with the government, crisis readiness training continued.
It’s no different with your pets.
When a sudden injury or illness arises, you need to have a plan. Here are some tips:
• Establish your pet with a veterinarian and see him at least annually. Children, grownups, dogs and cats; we all need regular checkups and preventive care.
• Emergency contact information. Type the information neatly in your computer, and print it out. Use big type, in case your glasses aren’t handy. Have your veterinarian’s phone number(s) on the list, along with the numbers of any area emergency clinics or hospitals. Emergency facilities may be open only when your veterinarian is closed, so be sure to know your clinic’s hours, and type that information into the list, also. Here, on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, we are served by the Gulf Coast Veterinary Emergency Hospital, just off I-10 exit 41, 228-392-7474.
• Have a first aid kit. Put the emergency contact information in the kit. A cut that is bleeding needs direct pressure, but, when the bleeding stops, a bandage is usually appropriate until your veterinarian can evaluate the wound. The kit should include some triple-antibiotic ointment, saline flush suitable for eyes, hydrogen peroxide for cleaning blood and disposable gloves.
• Know the fastest route from your home to your veterinary hospital. Also, know alternate routes, in case you encounter road closings. If you think you may not recall the path when under pressure, print out directions from Mapquest or Google Maps. Periodically make a test run, just like a fire drill. Do the same for your nearest emergency hospital.
If a pet is to survive a critical-care event, the initial steps are up to you, prior to handing him off to your pet’s doctor. A little bit of preparation just might make the difference between life and death.