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Pet Health

What To Do When…

Val Cairney October 1, 2021 149

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Hi everyone, and welcome to this episode of Val Talk’s Pets.  Have you ever had a situation with your pet where they are doing something like acting in pain, or they are eating grass or you know they have just ingested a large amount of something they shouldn’t?  It is such a horrible feeling for a pet parent when something is happening and you just do not know what to do. And I’m focusing here on the scenario where your vet is closed, it’s off hours and you are not sure if you should try and get to an emergency clinic. I thought I would take some of the more common questions on what to do or why a pet may be doing something in particular that most pet parents have experienced at one time or another or may experience especially with all those new puppies out there. So the questions, what can I do, or why is this, are the ones I’ll have a look at with this episode.

Insect Sting

So here is a scenario for you that has had many a pet parents in a frenzy.  Your dog or cat has decided that going after a bee is fun!  Well, guess what?  It isn’t, and your dog or cat has just got a nasty bee sting.  You hear the yelp or the cat goes by at full tilt and you know something has just happened. It doesn’t take long before you see some horrible swelling and you know what has happened.  First, you need to see if the stinger is still in the area.  If it is use tweezers and carefully remove it. You can use a baking soda and water paste to the site to try and take out the pain but I do find this kind of falls off and if the sting is on the paw, the dog licks this off.  I would go straight to the ice pack to relieve the swelling and the pain.  I would also use a natural antiseptic like colloidal silver or Nature’s Aid that I have recommended before.  The witch hazel will help with the sting.  Keep an eye on things for at least 20 minutes as this is the window that most allergic reactions take to manifest.  In the meantime, I would be prepared to deal with an allergic reaction. If your vet is open, call the Vet to see about the use of an over the counter antihistamine like Benadryl.  If you are given the go ahead and it looks like your pet will need an oral antihistamine the usual dose for Benadryl for example, is 1 mg per 1 pound of body weight every 8 hours as needed.  And this part is very important.  Make sure the Benadryl you have or any other oral antihistamine does not have Xylitol in it.  This is an artificial sweetener that is very toxic to dogs and cats.  From here keep a close eye on your pet and if it is after hours remember the emergency pet protocol that I have mentioned several times.  Know where the closest emergency vet clinic is, know the directions.  Make sure you have found out beforehand if you need to have a preauthorized payment before being seen.  If it looks like your pet is going into anaphylactic shock, rush to the nearest clinic.  If it looks like it’s just a bee sting swelling, well keep up with the ice packs and the Benadryl and call your vet as soon as they open.


So, I just got this scenario told to me and wow this would make you panic.  A gentleman told me that they have a Black Walnut tree on their property and one of their dogs ate one of the fruit which is a lime green colour and quite hard.  It stuck in the dog’s throat and it was past where they could see the fruit or even get their hand down to pull it out.  The dog was wheezing and wheezing and they were panicking.  So, they jumped into the car and started following any directions to a vet clinic.  He said they were driving around and around and found that the dog stopped wheezing and was just fine.  It had somehow swallowed the walnut all the way down, dislodging it from its throat.  Okay, so what would have been extremely helpful in this situation would be to know how to do the Heimlich Maneuver for dogs.  Yes, there is a procedure for this.  According to, the short and sweet version of the Heimlich for a small dog is to carefully lay your dog on his back and apply pressure to the abdomen just below the rib cage.  For a large dog, the maneuver is done without picking up the dog, and if they are still standing you put your arms around the belly of the dog, joining your hands.  Then you make a fist and push firmly up and forward just behind the rib cage.  Once the object is out the dog is placed in the recovery position on his side.  If the dog has laid down and is choking, you place one hand on the back for support and use the other had to squeeze the abdomen upwards and forwards towards the spine.  Check the dog’s mouth to see if any objects have been dislodged and remove.  Now here is where the scenario from the gentleman would have needed this part, the object might be quite a way back towards the throat, so you may have to hunt around and hook it out with your index finger.  If working the Heimlich is not working, obviously you have already started the process to get to the vet, but you may have to start Artificial respiration or CPR.  


If you need to perform CPR with or without artificial respiration you will need to perform this if the dog has stopped breathing and or his heart is no longer beating.  To administer rescue breaths, close the pet’s mouth and extend the pet’s neck to open the airway.  Cover the pet’s nose with your mouth and exhale until you see the pet’s chest rise.  CPR for cats, small dogs and deep chested dogs will require you to place the heel of your hands directly over the pet’s heart and place your other hand directly over the first hand.  For deep chested dogs, placed the heel of one hand over the widest part of the chest and place your other hand directly over the first hand.  Then, push hard and push fast at a rate of 100 – 120 compressions per minute 1/3 to ½ width of your pet’s chest.  Made sure the chest comes back fully or recoils before compressing again.  Perform 30 compressions.  You would then give rescues breaths.  

Whether you have had to do the Heimlich or have had to go full on with CPR you will need to get to the vet whether you have dealt with the emergency or not.  A lodged object can cause damage and of course if the dog was without oxygen the dog’s overall health will need to be accessed.  


Let’s look at another situation where your dog or cat has ingested something that you know is toxic.  Some of the top or common toxicities are raisins, THC products, human pharmaceuticals, mushrooms and chocolate.  I did an episode on this before where I stated that if you are doing cannabis in any form, you absolutely have to be diligent to keep it away from pets and no smoking around them.  As for mushrooms, make sure you clear out those mushrooms growing in the yard, these can be very toxic.  Under any of these possible toxins, you will have to get in touch with a pet poison line to get advice to know what you should be doing or if what they have ingested is indeed toxic.  If you need to make the dog vomit, you can make the dog or cat vomit with hydrogen peroxide.  There are some other options, but they should be used with extreme caution, so let’s stick with the peroxide.  If you know the dog just ate a box of chocolate or a plant you know to be toxic – probably best not to have those, but if you did, you can make the dog vomit by first giving it a bit of food.  Eating will help dilute the poison ingested and delay its absorption.  Using an eyedropper and 3% hydrogen peroxide, use the measurement of one teaspoon for every ten pounds and squirt this down the dog’s throat.  Get the dog walking to increase the metabolizing of the peroxide.  In a short time the dog should vomit.  If it doesn’t within 15 minutes repeat the dose and again if it hasn’t vomited in 15 minutes do it again.  If in 30 minutes the dog doesn’t vomit, you need to get to the vet.  Now, there are also some toxins that should not be vomited, so again, before you do anything, you need to speak to a vet or pet poison line.  

Cuts and Scrapes

Another scenario that pet parents deal with is when their pet gets some kind of cut or laceration.  Simple cuts and scrapes we usually can deal with.  Basic first aid in this situation entails washing the wound and putting on a pet friendly antiseptic.  Possible bandaging may be needed so the self-adhesive pet bandage is good to have on hand.  But, if it looks like some stitches are needed and bleeding is excessive, you know what to do…get to the nearest emergency vet clinic.  

Eye Wound

If your dog pokes his eye on tall grass or something else, flush the eye with water and then administer a pet eye wash or eye antiseptic.  Sometimes this deals with a squinty eye no problem, but if the next day your pet is still keeping his eye closed, you need to go to the vet.  


Okay, so let’s look at a scenario that we dealt with this past May.  It was a beautiful Saturday morning about 7:30 a.m.  I heard this commotion outside definitely involving my husband raising his voice and I hear him shouting Tundra, Tundra!!   So, I bolted out the back door, to see him holding Tundra by the collar with blood and drool dripping out of Tundra’s mouth and his mouth has porcupine quills sticking out.  Thank goodness they were not in his eyes or up inside his mouth, which we checked for very diligently.  Quills that break off or are left can migrate through the body and a dog can die as they hit vital organs.  Quills in a dog are not only super painful going in, but also being pulled out.  So, because the quills in Tundra’s face where localized to around his mouth and not anywhere near as bad as it could be, we opted for the plier approach.  With my husband holding poor Tundra I grabbed the quill as close to the skin as possible and pulled quickly and firmly.  Once we got all the quills out that we could see, we washed all the blood and then we laid him down and with a flashlight we looked extensively throughout his mouth.  Now, we did not see any, so we finished with Colloidal Silver to prevent infection.  However, we did a secondary check later that day and sure enough we found a quill just under the gum of one of his canine teeth.  So, another thorough check was done.  And we did another one the next day as well.  Now, had this episode been a lot worse, we would have had to take him to the vet to have him sedated as the quills were removed which is what happens in many cases where the dog is just full of quills all over their face and in their mouth.  Believe me, this is nasty.  Between getting sprayed by a skunk or quilled I’m not sure which is worse, but as for the potential danger for death, definitely being quilled requires immediate and diligent attention.  

Animal Attack

Another scenario that a pet parent may run into is if their dog or cat is attacked by another animal.  Depending on the wound or wounds a few small cuts can be dealt with by washing the wound and applying pet antiseptic.  But, if the wounds are large that may require stitches again you will need to go to the vet and also your pet more than likely will need antibiotics because the mouths of wild animals and other domestic animals can carry some pretty nasty things so you will definitely need to consult your veterinarian.  

Pet First Aid Course

So, as you can see there are some things we can do for our pets and you can also get some more information about things we can do for our pets in different situations by accessing my episodes on pet safety and summer and winter safety.  In the meantime, something that a pet parent can look into, is the First Aid courses for pets.  There are different ways to take courses in pet First Aid, some on line, or by going to a course run through Red Cross or St. John Ambulance.  In my area, the St. John Ambulance course takes on everything from pet proofing your home, to CPR, seizures, bites, delivering puppies and kittens and so much more.  When I interviewed Christine Santon from The Spaw grooming salon, she said that all her groomers were required to have pet First Aid training.  And here is a tip.  If you are in a real emergency like choking for example, and you are trying to get to an emergency facility but as in my case, it is about 45 minutes away, if its close, go to your nearest humane society or SPCA branch.  Why?  Well, the animal attendants at the shelter will have pet first aid and they also have tables and extra hands.  Believe me, if you are in a panic and you race into a shelter desperately looking for help, they will help you.  If not, that is a whole other story, but I’m sure they would definitely help you and then would be very appreciative of a nice donation to the shelter.  

The other thing that I strongly recommend is to have a pet first aid kit.  Some of the first aid items are ones you would have on hand from your human kit, like gloves, sterile gauze, tongue depressors, proper first aid scissors, a rectal thermometer, cotton swabs, medical tape, splints. You will need to get your pet antiseptic, pet eye and ear wash, self-adhesive bandage and pet ointment and it is a good idea to have ice packs in the freezer.  

Hopefully, this gives you an idea of the things we can do for our pets when the vet is not open or we are in emergency mode.  So, this leads me to my pet peeves section.

Pet Peeves

Don’t get me wrong, we need our vets and in many cases there is no option, but sometimes there are some simple solutions to deal with a situation that will allow us to avoid a vet bill.  The other thing is, we need information to help us when we are in emergency mode.  What if your dog has stopped breathing, wouldn’t it be better to have someone performing CPR or AR in the back of the car while rushing to the emergency vet?  I think that our options for emergency vet care is somewhat challenging.  I’ve been in that situation, where my dog was in crisis and what do I get when I call the vet?  A hold message telling me to leave a message.  When your dog is dying, I can tell you that is not reassuring or helpful.   In some ways, like large animal vet clinics where they have an on call vet for emergencies, it would be great if there was such a thing with small animal vets.  Now, I’m sure in other areas and countries they probably do, but not very much where I am.  For that reason we have to be more proactive and be prepared for what emergencies we may face with our animals.  I think having a pet first aid kit is something every pet owner should really have and taking a pet first aid course can really give some well needed piece of mind, knowing that you have prepared for what may come, because as I say, knowing is caring.

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Val Cairney

Hi everyone, and welcome to Val Talk’s Pets, the forum for pet parents and enthusiasts alike. So, I have been working in the pet industry now for almost 10 years and, on a daily basis, I handle a lot of issues and questions arising from pet parents. I am not a veterinarian but I do have certifications in Canine, Feline, Small Animal, Fish and Herptile and Avian Health and Nutrition from the University of California, Davis Extension, the Vet College.

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