Monday, August 2, 2010

Critters and First Aid.

Kieran.  Yes, that's what his tongue is supposed to look like.
I’ve been thinking lately about what I would do if something sudden and unforeseen happened to one of my furry little crumb stealers.  As much as we prepare, sometimes things catch us off guard and it’s good to put a little thought into these things before they happen...and not wait until you’re in a highly stressful situation.

Last year my brother and I were walking the dogs just before I was to leave for work.  I was running late as it was and probably was a little more impatient than normal.  I also wasn’t as observant as usual.  On the way home I noticed that Kieran was leaving a dark paw print on the sidewalk.  Blood.  He’d thoroughly sliced open his pad on a broken beer bottle that someone had tossed into the grass.  Because the streetlight was out I hadn’t noticed it, and Kieran had run straight through it. 

The pad of a dogs foot is a very vascular area and from what I’ve read it’s the sort of injury that often requires stitches.  When I got him home he immediately proceeded to run around in circles as I gathered up the First Aid kit.  Frankly, it looked like someone had slaughtered a small furry animal in there, between his blood and the tumbleweeds of fur that are a normal part of my home’s decor.   There was a lot of blood.  I called my work and let them know I’d be a few minutes late. 

After cleaning the wound and applying pressure for several minutes it seemed as though the bleeding had slowed.  So I put on a compress dressing, put on a knitted baby booty (It was actually supposed to be part of a gift basket for my cousin’s baby shower, but fit Kieran perfectly) and wrapped the whole thing with a tensor bandage to keep it in place.  But, of course, I’m right at home with wounds and dressings.  I’m a nurse, and the sight of blood doesn’t generally cause me to get overly excited. 

I told my brother to keep Kieran quiet, watch to make sure he wasn’t bleeding too much, and periodically check his paw to make sure it was the same temperature as the other one.  In other words, to make sure I hadn’t wound the bandage too tight.  Kieran’s also obsessed with his feet.  So my brother needed to make sure Kieran didn’t remove the dressing and start licking the wound.  Knowing my brother would call if there was a problem, I then left for work.

The wound took several days to heal enough that it stopped bleeding when we went for walks, and now he has a light scar across his ‘palm’.  The lucky thing is that my brother was there to keep an eye on him right after the accident.  If he hadn’t been there, the story might have gone down differently.

But what about situations that are more sudden and more dangerous?  Last year there was a rash of dog electrocutions on the streets of Toronto.  Faulty wiring near the sidewalks.  Bleeding is one thing, but what happens when your fur-baby stops breathing suddenly?  How many of us know how to perform CPR on a human, let alone a dog or a cat? 

I wouldn’t even know where to begin with a four legged critter.

You can’t prepare for everything, but knowing the basics just may be enough to save a life some day.  And then it’d be worth the ten minutes of your life you took to learn it.  In an upcoming post I'll go over what I have in my critter's First Aid kit (Yes, they have their own separate one) and tips that have saved me vet visits.

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