Did you know?
You may have called your veterinarian’s office with a question about symptoms your pet is experiencing and been asked to bring your pet in for care. The honest truth is that it can be very difficult to provide good medical advice over the phone. There are so many variables that could be causing the symptoms being experienced by your pet and sometimes there is no way for a verbal description to convey the true nature or severity of the problem. Sometimes the best option is to bring your pet in for a physical exam by a trained veterinarian. However, there are some simple comfort and first aid measures that you can do at home to provide relief either physically or emotionally for your pet and for yourself. There are also a couple that are best avoided and you may not be aware of the risk.

Let me tell you what they are…

1. Skunk Bath
The first one is more for you than “Lucky”. If your pet gets sprayed by a skunk there is a good likelihood that he/she could stay in the stench for a while (unless the spray got in the eyes – it burns). You, on the other hand, probably won’t sleep unless you can get some of the smell out. The first step is to rinse the eyes with sterile saline solution. Then follow with the skunk bath.

Here is the “skunk bath” recipe we give to our clients when they call:
1 Quart (32 oz) 3% Hydrogen Peroxide
1/4 C baking soda
1 t liquid soap – citrus scent

Mix all ingredients together. Poor the liquid over the animal, lather up and rinse off. Depending on the size of the animal and the intensity of the smell you may need to repeat the procedure multiple times. These quantities can be doubled or tripled.

2. Eye Wash
Sterile Buffered Saline solution is safe to use to wash out your pets eyes from skunk spray, an air borne contaminant, speck of sawdust, or a small blade of grass. However, if your pet continues to paw at its eyes, the eye(s) appear red or the object seems stuck in the eye, then follow-up veterinary care would be required. The eye may have gotten scratched, or an infection may have developed, that requires an ophthalmic medication.

3. Canned Pumpkin
If your dog or cat is having the occasional case of constipation or diarrhea, one of the things that might help is canned pumpkin. Yes, canned pumpkin in its pureed form (NOT pumpkin pie filling) is a fantastic stool softener which makes it a good natural remedy for constipation. It often helps with upset stomach or indigestion for both cats and dogs. It is very rich in fiber and adding just one or two teaspoonfuls to your pet’s food often gets the system moving in no time. Dogs will occasionally want to eat it directly and that’s fine too. Sometimes though, finicky cats and dogs won’t touch it, no matter what you do.

On the opposite end of things is diarrhea. Since the dietary fiber in canned pumpkin absorbs water, it can be a great help to a cat or dog that has diarrhea. Some pet owners report that it firms up their pet’s loose stools or diarrhea within a few hours. Again one to two teaspoonfuls is all that is needed.

It should be noted that both diarrhea and constipation can be very serious. Whatever the cause, diarrhea or constipation lasting more than 24-36 hours requires immediate veterinary care.

NSAIDS – Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are a class of medications that include, but are not limited to, aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, Nuprin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), and COX -2 inhibitors (Celebrex). All of these drugs can be toxic to dogs and cats and should never be administered at home.
The only exceptions for dogs are baby or buffered aspirin, or acetaminaphen, which should only be administered under the direction of a veterinarian for correct dosing. Veterinarians can prescribe anti-inflammatory and pain relieving medications that are safe for “Lucky”.

5. Heat Support

If your pet has just had surgery, or “Lucky” comes in from playing in the snow and can’t seem to get warm, you may be tempted to place him or her on your cozy electric heating pad for some extra warmth. Unfortunately, heating pads are notorious for large fluctuations in temperature and even though your cat or dog may seem very fluffy, the heating pad can actually cause serious hot spots or burns to your pet’s skin. Instead, try a warmed water bottle or fill a balloon with warm water and place either of these under a towel for your pet to lie near. This indirect heat can be re-warmed, but has less likelihood to get too hot for comfort. If your pet is mobile, let him move off the heat at will. If not mobile, be sure to reposition your cat or dog every 10 minutes or so to be sure the heat is evenly distributed and does not burn one part of his body.

The moral of the story…have a few tricks up your sleeve, but play it safe.