Emergency 3 :: Calling & Getting to an ER Vet (+ Transportation Tips + First-Aid Kit)
Calling and getting to an ER vet:
The first step in any emergency is assessing the situation, as calmly and rationally as possible. DO NOT PANIC, panic may subsequently lead to mistakes in assessing your kitty's situation and in taking the necessary steps to help her.
Please refer to Signs & Symptoms for help in assessing your kitty's health condition and for tips in helping you determine whether or not you are faced with an emergency. You might also familiarize yourself with learning kitty's Vital Signs.
If you have reasonably determined that your kitty is in need of emergency veterinary care, please call your primary vet immediately, OR call the nearest facility for further instruction. It's always a good idea to have one or two numbers kept near your phone at all times in the event of such situations, and being prepared can help minimize panic and confusion, thereby allowing you to make
the best decisions for your particular situation.
If your vet or that of an emergency vet has an answering service or message machine, please leave a short, but descriptive message explaining the situation, your name, and your phone number in which the attending vet can reach you. Please understand that most message services and recorders may also have a pager service that allows the attending vet to recieve your message quickly, but you must also keep you phone line open so that he is able to reach you in a timely manner. If your line is tied up by calling other vets, he won't be able to reach you. Always speak in a clear voice, and leave your phone number before and after your message. Oftentimes, panicked owners will forget to leave a phone number for the vet and this will certainly hamper yours and that of your vet's ability to help your kitty in crisis.
Once you have made contact with your vet or an emergency vet, make sure you understand the clinic's location and if the vet is there or is expected to meet you. Sadly, on occasion, a confused or panicked owner will drive to the wrong clinic only to find there is no vet, no open doors, and no service. Remember that sometimes, vets will transfer their on-call services to another vet in the area after normal business hours, holidays or other occasions, so please take it upon yourself in ensuring you are going to the correct clinic's adress.
Another good preparation is finding out about emergency charges that are expected of you upon service. Most emergency facilities do require payment in full upon services rendered, or that payment arrangements are made in advance. Please find out about your particular ER vet's policies while you are still on the phone with him so that neither of you are faced with any misunderstandings when it comes to the immediate care of your kitty. If you are unable to pay in full, Please discuss this with your vet and other suitable arrangements might be made, such as a deposit, hold checks (post-dated), payment plans, etc. Most vets will consider these options, but you must show good faith in your ability to pay your bill in order to recieve the best quality care for your kitty, who is depending on you to do so.
Transporting An Injured Kitty:
In cases where you are certain there are no broken bones, no internal injuries, and no trauma involved, there are several methods you may use to transport your kitty to the vet. Cat carriers are the best method, but a sturdy cardboard box will suffice as well (make sure the bottom is secure and the top flaps secure so that kitty cannot escape). Also, merely wrapping kitty in a heavy towel or blanket will work, as long as you keep her secure and that she cannot escape.
In cases where broken bones are evident, open wounds that are bleeding profusely, or those cases where severe trauma have occurred (such as hit by car, falls from high rises, or other traumatic blows), it is best to minimize the handling of your kitty. Just as in human emergencies, transportation of such traumatic instances apply to animals as well. Using a flat board, or heavy piece of cardboard or anything sturdy with a flat surface is a good method of transport to minimize the risk of further trauma. Take great care when transporting your kitty from one surface to a solid surface for transport to the vet hospital. Move kitty gently, but quickly and take care when driving to the clinic, making sure kitty cannot fall off of a seat, etc.
*Emergency Tips For Transportation*
1) NEVER approach a snarling, growling kitty with your bare hands. Use heavy gloves if possible or use a heavy towel or blanket to wrap around kitty so that you and kitty are protected and ready for transport
2) NEVER attempt to reposition broken bones yourself. It is best to leave well enough alone until your vet can assess the situation
3) NEVER attempt to muzzle a kitty who has been vomiting or who has breathing difficulty or breathing distress or if there is bleeding from the mouth or nose.
4) In cases of shock or severe blood loss, you can place a hot water bottle (or plastic soda bottle filled with warm water) next to kitty's side to help raise her internal core body temperature until your vet can assess her situation
5) In the event of open or gaping wounds, you can apply direct pressure with your fingers or hand, with gauze pads or towels wrapped securely around the area to minimize the loss of blood
6) In cases of hernias, blunt forced trauma resulting in broken limbs, severed limbs or eye/orbital trauma, NEVER attempt to manipulate the affected part back into it's place, this can cause further insult and trauma and even death. Wrap your kitty gently and securely in a soft blanket or sheet until your vet can assess the injury/damage
7) In cases of breathing distress, choking, or gagging, try to keep your kitty as comfortable as possible enroute to the emergency hospital.
8) In cases of poisoning, ask your vet over the phone for instructions for inducing vomiting prior to taking kitty in to the ER clinic, but make sure your vet has instructed you on whether or not inducing vomiting is necessary or would be best left up to him when he examines your kitty at the hospital. Some toxic substances may cause worsening problems if vomiting is induced, always consult your vet!
9) DRIVE SAFELY. Please take care when driving to your vet, your kitty is depending on you to do so. If your kitty is experiencing severe distress enroute, please pull off the road long enough to reassess the situation and continue safely to your vet. If traffic is light, you may be able to use your hazard lights and occasionally honk your horn, but please act rationally, and take every measure in ensuring both you and kitty are safe enroute
Once you and kitty have safely arrived at your vet's clinic, be prepared to fill out necessary paperwork, and be prepared to answer your vet's questions so that he can get a better idea of kitty's health history, the nature of the situation and how best to proceed from there. Try to remain calm, and try to remember any pertinent information that will aid your vet in treating your kitty effectively. Below are typical questions your vet might ask you:
- Age of your kitty
- Prior health status of your kitty
- Is kitty currently on any medications?
- Any prior medical history or medical problems/treatment?
- The approximate time this emergency event took place?
- Was kitty indoors or outdoors at the time?
- Exposed to toxic substances?
- Do you have other pets at home who may be exhibiting similar symptoms?
- Prior history of complications with anesthesia or injections/oral medications?
When you are filling out paperwork, please include both your home number or work number so that your vet can contact you if he needs further information or your permission to apply further diagnostics. Please also discuss in full what to expect from additional diagnostics, the cost involved and when you can expect the results. If your kitty must be hospitalized overnight, find out if there will be a technician on duty or someone to watch over your kitty after normal business hours, holidays, etc. Ask if there is a number you can call to get an update on your kitty after hours. Ideally, a 24-hour veterinary hospital will be in your kitty's best interest in the cases of trauma, or that which requires constant observation of your kitty's condition.
Did You Know ...
Most veterinary emergencies occur between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m.. Although none of us wish to experience an emergency, being fully prepared in advance can mean the difference between life and death for your loved one. CatHelp has compiled a list for emergency first aid items you can get and have on hand in the event of an emergency. The following items are available at any pharmacy or through pet supply catalogs:
First Aid Kit:
- 12 3"x3" gauze pads
- 2 rolls of 3" gauze bandage
- Nonstick adhesive first aid tape
- Non-stick sterile adhesive pads
- 1 roll of 2" vet wrap
- 1 roll of 4" vet wrap (available through pet supply catalogs)
- Nail trimmers
- Kitty Muzzle (preferrably nylon, available in pet stores)
- Digital Rectal Thermometer
- K-Y or Vaseline petroleum jelly (yellow type)
- Eye Dropper
- 8 oz Saline Solution (same as used for contact lens care)
- 8 oz Hydrogen Peroxide (3%)
- 8 oz Isopropyl Alcohol
- Antibiotic Ointment (i.e., Polysporin or Neosporin)
- 2 large and 2 small plastic trash liners
- Latex Gloves
- Styptic Powder or Pencil (available at pet stores)
- Paper Towels or absorbent towels
- Compact Thermal Blanket
- Hot Water Bottle (or plastic soda bottle)
- Tongue Depressers
- Hand Towel and Large Bath Towel
- Nylon or Canvas Bag to enclose first aid items
- First Aid Manual For Pets or Emergency Information Booklet
- Your vet's emergency hospital phone number and adress
- An alternate emergency veterinary hospital's phone number and adress
NOTE: With items such as peroxide, saline, alcohol and ointments, please periodically check your inventory and make sure that none have expired past their expiration dates and replace where necessary. Keep your first aid kit easily accessible and within reach and add to it when necessary. Please always keep your vet's phone number and that of an alternate ER vet near your phone at all times for quick reference.
Please remember, when in doubt, call your vet!