Some of the most common types of accidents we see at Foster Hospital for Small Animals at Cummings Veterinary Medical Center are preventable, including injury resulting from home grooming accidents, getting hit by cars, fights with other animals, or ingestion of inappropriate medication. Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to keeping your pets safe and healthy.
1) Grooming Accidents
Many pet owners have experienced that horrible moment when, as a result of trimming your pet’s nails, you accidentally cut into the quick, the live part of the nail containing nerves and blood vessels. Dogs with light nails make it easier to see the quick, but it is a lot more difficult to see in dogs with black nails. We recommend that you trim nails frequently and take it slow, clipping only small bits at a time. Cutting into the quick can be extremely painful and stopping the flow of blood is very difficult. Styptic powder, such as Kwik-Stop, will stop the bleeding instantly, but if you don’t have that on hand, some every day household products can work just as well. You can put some baby powder or flour in your hand and press your dog’s nail into the powder. A bar of soap also serves as a useful household remedy. Just push the nail into the soap to stop the blood flow You may think all is fine once the nail stops bleeding, but it’s important that you keep your pet sitting still for a period of time as the bleeding is apt to resume with movement.
It is also not uncommon in emergency services for us to treat dogs and cats who require stitching when owners inadvertently cut them while removing a mat. Prevention can help! Maintain your pet’s fur by brushing it frequently to keep mats from developing. De-matting can be very painful and may even require your pet to be sedated. Another option for matting problems is to clip off the dog’s coat, but that can be challenging depending on how close the mat is to the skin surface. Work with a professional groomer if your dog’s coat is “out of control.”
If you accidently cut your pet’s skin, don’t panic! If the skin’s edges are open and the cut is longer than ½ inch or so, he will probably need some stitches. See your vet as soon as possible for an examination.
2) Escape Accidents
When your pet escapes from the safety of your home or yard, he runs the real risk of getting hit by a car or possibly getting into a fight with another animal. At Foster Hospital for Small Animals, we see many cases where a pet’s escape is a precursor to serious injury. You may let your dog out to roam in the yard and not recognize the gate is unlatched or perhaps you have workers at your house who open the door — just the ticket your dog or cat has been waiting for. This winter in New England, the ER saw many pets who were just able to step over the fence since the snow was so high! Your pet may enjoy roaming and exploring, may be looking for contact with people or other animals, or in the case of unneutered dogs, could be in search of a mate. Whatever the reason, it’s important that you supervise your pets when outdoors, be careful to keep your unsterilized pets in eye’s view and ensure your fence is in working order. These steps can go a long way toward keeping your pets safe from dangers that await escaping pets.
3) In-home Animal Aggression
Most pet owners know that not all companion animals get along, and accidental pet injuries can happen as a result of aggression between animals living within the same household or from visiting pets. Pet owners may find that their new puppy is not as welcome by the Labrador they’ve had for 10 years as it is for the rest of the family. This was demonstrated by a recent case we saw in the ICU when an 11-week-old puppy had to undergo brain surgery for a serious injury inflicted upon him by his housemate. You can prevent accidental injuries of this sort by paying attention to the signals your pets are sending in regard to their housemates; knowing when to allow other companion pets to visit; taking care when leaving your pets alone in the home; and watching for resource guarding behaviors, like growling or snapping, which can be a warning sign of more serious aggressive actions. These latter behaviors are seen in dogs and are meant to keep other dogs or humans away from their special treasure or “resource” (food, toys, a favorite chair, or even a person). It’s also important to ensure your pet’s rabies shots are current in the event he inflicts injury to another or is himself bitten!
4) Ingestion of Medications
Dogs and cats can be very curious and get into their owner’s (or each other’s) medications. Dogs, in particular, are able to chew through and open plastic pill bottles. Dogs and cats may even work together in their mission. Some of the medications that they may get into include blood pressure medications, heart medications, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, sleep aids, and anti-depressants. These drugs can have a wide array of toxic symptoms, so the best approach is to seek veterinary advice immediately if your pet ingests any medications.
Staying calm and knowing who to call in an emergency can help buy time that might save your pet’s life. Remember that Cummings Veterinary Medical Center is here for you 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. To reach Foster Hospital for Small Animals you may call our emergency line at 508-839-5395 #3,it is staffed by an experienced veterinary team, including board-certified veterinarians with support staff who are ready to help from emergency stabilization through medical treatment, surgical care and rehabilitation.