Monday, January 19, 2015

Emergency Preparedness

While we love to talk about all of the fun parts of being a dog owner here at Little Holly's Big World, the fact of the matter is having a furry pal means the possibility of facing the occasional emergency situation. After TWO such situations cropped up in the past two weeks (don't worry, Holly is fine), I thought I would share our most important tips to be as prepared as possible just in case!

Remember: the best bet is to have a plan.

When something scary happens with your pooch, your brain switches into panic mode, and the most rational thinking does not necessarily happen in that mode. If you already have a plan in place for how to act should something bad happen, then your panic-fogged brain will switch to autopilot, and you can make sure to act quickly to make sure your pup is safe. Here's what we do to make sure that we are prepared for any scenario:

1. Make sure your home is ready in case you aren't there.

Remember when you were little and your mom would leave the list of emergency contacts for the babysitter? I have the same list for my dog walker, as well as stickers in all my exterior windows alerting local fire departments to the presence of a dog in the apartment in the event of the fire. The stickers are available for free as part of an emergency kit from the ASPCA (get yours here).

Also in the kit is a refrigerator magnet with the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline (888-426-4435). For less than $100, this 24 hour service will provide access to a veterinarian to consult on your pet's condition and best course of treatment, and be available for any and all follow up questions. If you are unsure about whether something your pet ingested is poisonous, they are a great first step to see if you should visit an emergency vet.

2. Take a first aid course.

One of the best things I have done as a pet parent is to take an animal first aid course. My local VCA Hospital  offered one for a very reasonable fee, and the full day course covered everything from basic wound care to spotting symptoms for dangerous illnesses early. They also provided details on what should go into a pet first aid kit, though the ASPCA has comprehensive kits for both first aid and emergency survival (in the case of a hurricane or other natural disaster).

3. Know the location of your nearest 24 hour emergency vet, and keep their number on speed dial.

It's always best to act quickly when you know your emergency can't be handled at home, and taking the time to look up an address or phone number is just that much longer that you have to wait to get on your way. Having this information stored somewhere accessible (and preferably with you at all times), will keep you prepared to jump right in your car or cab and get there ASAP in the event of an emergency.

4. If your pooch isn't microchipped, run, don't walk, and get it done!

I can't tell you how many stories I have read where a microchip reunited a beloved pet and their owner. Holly was microchipped when I first adopted her (it's standard practice for the Humane Society and many other shelters), but if you are unsure if your pet has been chipped, your vet can do a quick check to see if they feel the chip under your pup's skin. They should repeat this test at your annual check up to make sure it's still in place.

Though I hope you never have to use any of these tips, I know being prepared will give you peace of mind as you're out in the world with your pet. You can never predict when something may come up out of nowhere, but it you know how to react and have a plan in place, you will be able to handle the situation in the absolute best way for both you and your pooch!
Being prepared for a situation will make sure you can enjoy all the fun parts of being a pet parent knowing you have a plan!
Until Next Time, Darlings!

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