Thursday, July 26, 2007

Pet First Aid Kit

First, know what is normal. It is important that you be able to assess your pet's physical condition in order to evaluate his needs, especially since many animals are stoic and will not show pain or discomfort. One of the MOST important factors in evaluating your pet's condition is to know what is normal for him or her. Take time BEFORE an emergency to check your pet's normal temperature, pulse, color and respiration.

To take your pet's temperature, use a rectal thermometer. Put a dab of lubricant on the tip (Vaseline, oil, etc.). Carefully insert the thermometer about 1 inch into the rectum. Keep the thermometer in place for 60 seconds, then remove it and read the temperature. Most dogs and cats have temperatures between 101 and 102 degrees F.

To check pulse, you can often feel the heartbeat by placing your hand on the chest behind the front legs, or by feeling for a pulse along the inside of the back upper leg. The animal's color can be assessed by looking at the gums or tongue, and the respiration rate can usually be observed by watching the chest.

Hemostat or tweezers -- (use to pull out thorns or as a clamp). Hemostats are like fine locking pliers or clamps. They are great for grabbing onto things like sticks, thorns, ticks, or anything else that may be caught in your pet's mouth or skin.

Thermometer -- (normal temp in dogs and cats is 101 to 102 degrees F). A low temperature can indicate a very sick animal or hypothermia. In either case it is very important to warm the animal. A high temperature can indicate infection or hyperthermia. Temperatures above 106 or 107 degrees can cause brain damage to your pet.

Styptic powder -- This is most useful for stopping bleeding caused by torn toenails.

Bandage material -- A variety of bandage materials can be used to cover wounds to keep them clean, to provide pressure to help stop bleeding, to cover an injured area so your pet doesn't lick or scratch at it, to act as a temporary tourniquet or muzzle (even docile animals will snap hard if in pain), or to stabilize or protect a body part.

* 1 roll cast padding or soft bandage
* 1 roll adhesive tape or "sticky" bandage
* 1 roll "Vet Wrap"
* Gauze Squares
* 1 roll gauze (can be used for tourniquet, muzzle)

Syrup of Ipecac Use 1 teaspoon per 10 lb. dog to induce vomiting. If your dog does swallow something poisonous, the best treatment is to get it out of the stomach, UNLESS it is something irritating or caustic. Two of the most common poisons seen by veterinarians are rat poison and antifreeze. Ingestion of either of these is an emergency.

Artificial Tears (To soothe or flush eyes). You can carefully use your hemostats to remove sticks or other foreign objects that may get into your pet's eyes.

Buffered Aspirin (325mg) Use 1 tablet per 50 lbs for sore muscles and pain. This is very effective for reducing inflammation from sore muscles or joints. It can help alleviate your pet's discomfort if injured. Not all dogs should take aspirin. Dogs may usually have aspirin every 8-12 hours. Cats are very sensitive to aspirin and should never be given aspirin more than once every 72 hours. Tylenol is poisonous to cats. Check with your veterinarian before giving any medications.

Diphenhydramine HCI (25mg) This works well in reducing allergic reactions to insect bites. These reactions can be serious if a pet is stung in the mouth, since swelling could block the windpipe. Check with your veterinarian before using this medication.

Whistle to signal for help if hiking. If you or your pet are injured, you may find this helpful to attract help.

Triple Antibiotic Ointment (for cuts and scrapes). This helps our pet avoid infection, as does bandaging.

Rescue Remedy Give 2 drops on tongue every 5-15 minutes in case of shock or trauma. This is a human homeopathic remedy used to treat stress or shock. This can be used any time an animal is stressed or injured.

Arnica (give 2 drops on tongue every 15 minutes for muscle injury and other trauma). A homeopathic remedy that is very safe for your pet.

Antiseptic Solution for flushing wounds (hydrogen peroxide, chlorhexidine. Use this to clean out wounds before applying antibiotic ointment and bandaging.

Scissors: Use to cut bandages. A knife is also very useful.

Blanket: Animals often go into into shock when injured. A blanket will help keep them warm. It can also double as a stretcher.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Can A Dog Improve Your Health?

There's nothing that relieves stress and makes us laugh like watching a new puppy chasing a ball on wobbly legs. And what fun to play 'tug of war' with a favorite toy! Just having your dog in your lap to pet and cuddle brings soothing relaxation.

Maybe there's more to the phrase "man's best friend" that we realize.

For years care givers have been inviting pets into nursing homes. Not only does this promote social interaction for the residents as they pet and talk to their furry friend, but they also become less withdrawn and begin talking to the other residents even after their pet's visit is over. This seems to help break the cycle of loneliness and depression that many of them feel. And stroking a dog or cat can actually reduce a person's blood pressure! Petting a dog encourages the use of hands and arms and encourages stretching and turning movements, especially if your visiting dog is a bit active. What a wonderful gift a dog can offer, but the dog benefits, too, by receiving loving affection in return.

For those who would like to work with such a program, either with your own dog or with dogs provided by a service, the first rule is that visiting dogs must be social. The whole idea is to facilitate positive interaction between the dog and the people who are visited by them. If the dog doesn't seem eager to participate, the interaction will be less than ideal, and the rejection felt by the person could be more harmful than no visit at all. They truly need to feel that the dog accepts them and likes them. When selecting a dog for one of these programs, look for one that is calm, friendly and tolerant. The visit shouldn't be forced on the person or the dog. Successful visits should be pleasurable for both.

Because of the successful results with nursing home residents, this concept has expanded to hospitals, where many studies are now exploring the health benefits of association with companion animals. Pet-facilitated therapy (PFT) is now being used often as a treatment method for patients with physical and emotional problems.

The Red Cross has begun using dogs and other animals following traumatic events to help people feel better and have something to help divert their attention from their suffering. Children especially can benefit from having a puppy to play with. It temporarily takes the place of a pet that may have been left behind until they can be reunited. Playing with volunteer animals gives people a break from their mental and physical stress and makes them more able to cope with what they are going through.

Children love animals of all kinds - particularly dogs. One amazing study is finding that dogs play a big part in helping children who are learning to use prosthetic arms and legs. They can use their new arm to brush and groom a dog, which helps them learn to grasp objects and become more confident with their ability to use their new limb. For those with a new leg, playing ball with a dog helps them to improve their balance and maneuverability. The emotional therapy is priceless, too. The children begin to gain self-confidence again and learn to focus on their abilities rather than their limitations. In return, the dog learns to interact with children and receives some TLC, too.

For autistic and mentally disabled children, health workers and teachers are discovering that playing with dogs motivates them to learn and develop new skills and try new things. They find ways to interact with the world around them that didn't exist before.

But what if someone is feeling a bit down and depressed, and they aren't in a situation where a companion dog is part of their therapy. There are lots of options. A visit to the local animal shelter may find them adopting a dog who has that irresistible 'please take me home with you' look. What a joy for both the dog and the new owner.

If having a dog isn't the best solution, the animal shelters and local veterinarians love to have volunteers to walk the dogs and pet them. Maybe a neighbor travels a lot or works long hours. They would love to have someone take their dog for a walk. Visit a local dog park and laugh as the dogs execute their playful antics. Find a doggie frisbee contest to watch the amazing skills of these highly trained dogs. Or just visit a friend who has a dog that's cute and friendly. The possibilities are endless.

Pet therapy works because dogs and other animals create joy in people's lives, and they help them to enjoy that life more. Dogs are non-judgmental and willingly provide exercise, play and laughter. So get healthy - play with your dog and pet them often. They truly are "man's best friend."

About the Author
Janet Winter is a web designer, owner of three e-commerce sites, and writer on many topics including dogs, babies, wild birds, the Internet and travel. Her e-commerce sites are: , and