Dr. Cynthia Maro
Several years ago, a client brought a pet into the office in horrible condition. Their long-haired Dachshund had been itching horribly. They found fleas on the pet, and when bathing with a flea shampoo only worsened the itching, they turned to a friend who suggested an anti-itch remedy.
The suggestion was to dilute Clorox in water and dip the dog in the solution.
Not only did the pet stop itching almost immediately, but the remedy caused the dog to lose a great deal of skin over the next five days through chemical burns. It took three weeks of treatments for the pet to recover, but the poor dog had lots of scarring from the Clorox burns.
The idea was a bad one, but I do understand that when a pet owner is sleep-deprived and their pet is miserable, they will often try anything to get their pet comfortable.
If you own a pet, it’s important to prepare for the times when your pet may need home care, until you can get to the vet clinic. If they do not have a dire emergency, but have pain or discomfort, you may be able to care for them at home until the next business day.
First a few words about what not to do:
- Do not give your own pain meds to your pets. Many human pain meds will be fatal to cats and cause liver or kidney damage to dogs and cats.
- Do not give canine flea and tick medications to cats. Many of the dog formulations can be fatal to cats, including over-the-counter remedies. Read and follow the labels. If it says for use in dogs, do not make the mistake of “just using a smaller dose” to give to your cat. I’ve treated many seizing cats who received a tiny dose of the dog’s flea medication.
- If your pet is itching their ears, do not assume “it must be ear mites.” My associates and I have treated many pets whose owners assumed itchy ears meant they had ear mites. The owners went to the pet store and applied OTC (over-the-counter) ear miticide and ended up in the vet ER to treat allergic ears which worsened with the application of ear mite medication.
- Do not use rubbing alcohol in your pet’s ears or on their irritated skin.
- If a pet has a head tilt, do not put anything in their ears, NOT EVEN WATER!
- If a pet has irritated eyes with redness and squinting, that constitutes a same-day emergency situation. DO NOT apply Visine or any eye medications with steroids, dexamethasone or prednisone without seeing a veterinarian first.
- For coughing dogs and cats, do not give cough suppressants in place of seeking vet attention. This may mask symptoms of pneumonia or congestive heart failure.
The types of conditions that are safe to treat at home include mild skin irritations, occasional head shaking, mild ear inflammation or discharges, non-anaphylactic allergic reactions, mild lameness, loose bowel movements and other discomfort symptoms.
I am always happy to advise pet owners on a list of first aid supplies and remedies which can alleviate pain and deal with minor illnesses and injuries. Preparing a supply list and asking your local veterinary office to guide you on stocking your home kit are good ways to get prepared. You can do this at your pet’s regular appointment time.
Supplies which I recommend keeping on hand:
- Bandage materials, including gauze 4×4’s, self-sticking Vet Wrap, porous tape, cling gauze and roll cotton. This is for pressure and support wraps until you make it to the vet’s office.
- Clotting powder, cinnamon, flour or corn starch for bleeding toenails.
- Saline eye flush and medicated eye ointment
- Wound flush, saline-based foam or Vetericyn
- Ozonated wound antiseptic
- Remedies to aid blood clotting (I use Chinese herbal remedies for this purpose)
- Medications for treating diarrhea
- Activated charcoal and/or Universal antidote (toxin binders for oral use)
- Your veterinarian’s recommendation for pain control medication specific to your pet
- Hydrogen peroxide (to induce vomiting when needed for toxin ingestion)
- Nausea medications, such as Cerenia
If your pet has known allergies that are severe, ask your vet to supply you with medications, including injections to treat anaphylaxis at home.
I also recommend owners keep a homeopathic remedy kit on hand to treat nausea and diarrhea, as first choices, for mild cases. The remedies Nux Vomica and Arsenicum are both very effective treatments for gastrointestinal symptoms and can be obtained through a holistic veterinarian or a health food store.
Your pet’s vet is a great resource for preparedness and preventing trips to the ER. Make use of their expertise by scheduling regular preventive care and wellness visits.
Dr. Cynthia Maro is a veterinarian at the Ellwood Animal Hospital in Ellwood City and the Chippewa Animal Hospital in Chippewa Township. She writes a biweekly column on pet care and health issues. If you have a topic you’d like to have addressed, email [email protected].