In an emergency situation it is important to try and remain calm, this will help you think more clearly, and importantly, it will help keep your pet calmer too.
Here are 3 common trauma emergencies:
Wounds, Road Traffic Accidents and Eye damage, and some general advice on how to deal with them
Always phone your vet before attending the clinic, it's much better if the team can get ready for your arrival.
When calling your vet, have a pen and paper ready to write down any instructions or directions.
Out of hours you may need to attend a different clinic to your regular daytime one.
This is intended as useful information should your pet ever suffer a trauma.
You should always seek veterinary advice if you are concerned about your pet.
Wounds can occur at anytime, from glass, wire or a bite from another pet! As emergency vets, we see new wounds, and we see old wounds which have gone unnoticed because of a long shaggy coat.
The important thing is for us to treat as soon as possible.
If the wound is dirty, and you feel able to, then pour some clean water over it, then cover with a clean towel. You can wrap cling film around the towel to create a makeshift dressing.
If the wound is bleeding, then apply pressure to the area, don't attempt to stop the bleeding by creating a tourniquet or tying anything around it, as this can cause a lot of further damage.
Take care when handling a wound (or any injury) as your dog may be in pain and could bite, even if its not in their nature to.
Do not remove the bandage/dressing to have a look, as this could cause bleeding to start again.
Get to the vet as soon as possible.
2. Road Traffic Accidents (RTAs)
It's often difficult to know if your dog or cat has been hit by a car.
Sometimes it will have been witnessed, or your pet may have been found injured on or next to a road; but pets are very resilient and will often drag themselves away or home.
If you think your pet has been hit by a car, get them checked by a vet as soon as possible.
There may be obvious wounds or bleeding, or even a broken leg bone. But internal damage to organs, spine, head or pelvis may have occurred; which unfortunately are not obvious at first.
Sometimes if the bladder was full when the dog or cat was hit by the car, it can burst like a balloon. You may not know this has happened for several hours, by which stage, your pet may not survive. This is why it is crucial for your pet to be examined by a vet.
Cats should be very carefully placed in a carrier, loosely wrapping in a towel first can help, before being transported.
If not, wrap the cat in a large towel and transport with someone holding them.
A covered cardboard box in the passenger footwell is a suitable method of emergency transportation.
Please be aware that an injured cat may panic, and this could cause an accident if the panicking cat is loose in the car.
Larger dogs can be moved using a large towel as a stretcher.
Slide the towel under the dog on one side and carefully feed it through to the other side. Use two or more people to move the dog to the back or boot of the car.
Phone the vet in advance for advice and to let them know you are coming in.
Eye trauma is very common. It often happens suddenly, and if not treated quickly, it can cause blindness or even loss of the eye.
A healthy eye should be free from discharge or redness, and the eyelid should be open (when the pet is awake that is!)
The following signs should prompt you to see the vet:
Watery or cloudy discharge
Reluctance to open the eyelid
Rubbing at the eye
It may be a scratch to the eye - from a cat or hedge in the garden; there could be the tip of a thorn embedded in the eye.
It could be an infection, or there could be something in there that shouldn't - grass seeds are a common culprit.
If not treated, the eye will be painful (think how it feels if you just have an eyelash or a bit of grit in your own eye!) it may also get infected, or could develop an ulcer.
Most vets will have had to remove an eye at some point and if treated early, this can often be avoided.