Animals rarely pick a convenient time to have an emergency.
So when one comes up, it is good idea to be prepared and to have some basic supplies on hand and to keep a few things in mind.
For starters ask yourself, is this animal a pet? Or it this an animal that will be going into the food supply?
If it is a food animal that is injured, is this animal ready to be butchered? Or can you afford to wait until the animal is healed up and the drugs are out of its system?
For food animals, you have to be very careful of what you give them and the dosing. Because drug withdrawal times meat and milk are set to keep people safe.
Once these questions are answered, you can act accordingly.
There are some general things that are good to have on hand no matter what species you have.
1. Disinfectants – Betadine and Chlorhexadine are examples of disinfectants. These types of disinfectants are diluted with water. With them you can clean off injuries and flush wounds and abscesses.
2. Bandage Materials – Gauze rolls, gauze pads, vet wrap, cotton leg wraps, roll cotton, white bandage tape and even in a pinch…duct tape. All of these bandage materials should be on hand in case of injuries.
Even for an injury that you will need a vet for (like a broken bone), you can help your animal by cleaning off the injury or stabilizing it until the vet arrives; or before you transport your animal to the vet. Broken legs can benefit from lots of cotton padding secured with vet wrap. Gushing blood can be slowed or stopped by the application of pressure from a wad of cotton secured by vet wrap.
3. Blood Stop Powder – You put it on to help clot blood. Flour and Corn starch will also work.
4. Electrolytes – Animals who don’t want to drink or have diarrhea/vomiting, or who are ill in general could all use some electrolytes. These replace the ones they are losing to diarrhea/vomiting or aren’t taking in.
5. Drenching Gun or Oral Syringe – For those animals who are eating or drinking, or those who need oral medications.
6. Gloves – Short exam gloves and the long rectal sleeves. The short gloves are good for when you are dealing with injuries or giving oral meds to help keep your hands clean and protected from zoonotic disease. They also help protect your animal’s injury from the bugs that normally live on your skin. Rectal sleeves are good to have on hand when you are birthing animals and have to go in to reposition a baby. Again, they keep you clean, and also keep the animal protected from your skin flora.
7. Wound treatments – for minor wounds, things like Scarlet Oil and general triple antibiotic ointments are useful to have on hand.
Furazone ointment is often used in horse but is a major DON’T in food animals. AluShield is a spray on bandage that is useful for covering minor wounds to keep the flies off.
This is where you have to start thinking about what animal you are treating and what its purpose in life is.
For food animals, you have to pay attention to medication withdrawal times and to which medications are forbidden.
Your vet can help direct you, because what is good in one species can kill another.
These are a few medications your vet may want you to have on hand.
1. Antibiotics – For most dogs and cats, your local vet can dispense or prescribe these according to diagnosis.
A. For food animals, (cows, goats, sheep, pigs) many of these medications are commonly found at your local feed store.
What type of medication your vet advises will depend on why you are treating your animal.
a. Penicillin G is an oldie, but goodie. It’s a broad spectrum that is the first line of defense for many ailments from wounds to retained placenta.
b. Oxytetracycline AKA Biomycin AKA LA-200 AKA…This is another broad spectrum antibiotic that is used in another plethora of ailments, from foot rot to pneumonia.
c. Ceftiofurs are also broad spectrum. These include Excenel, Excede, Naxcal, and Ceftiflex. Again, also have a wide range of uses.
B. For horses, Penicillin is also one that is commonly used, but SMZ-TMP is another broad spectrum your vet may want you to have on hand. Other antibiotics are used to treat a specific ailment and may only be prescribed when needed.
2. Pain/Anti-inflammatories – These are most commonly prescribed as needed for pain.
Often people often want to use human medicines, like ibuprofen, Tylenol, and aspirin, for their animals. But animals metabolize these drugs differently than we do and giving them our medicines can kill them.
So please, before giving your animal something, ask your vet.
For large animals, Flunixin Meglumine (aka- Banamine, Prevail, Flunixiject) is often one that a vet will let you keep on hand if there is a need for it. For large animals it’s their version of an NSAID. This medication comes in an injectable form for food animals and horses. But for horses there is also a paste version for owners who are uncomfortable with giving injections. Horse owners may also want to keep Phenylbutazone (aka- Bute) on hand.
Here are a few other odds and ends that you can have on hand as well.
1. Activated Charcoal is frequently used when an animal has eaten something toxic, like a poisonous plant.
2. Mineral oil is often a go-to for colicking horses. But it is also use when an animal has eaten something you want to have move smoothly through the guts with some lubrication.
3. Baking Soda is often used in ruminants to treat rumen acidosis
4. Diphenhydramine is mostly use in pet animals. It isn’t labelled for food animals and is good for allergic reactions.
5. Vitamin B Complex and Thiamine is helpful for ruminants who are off their feed or ill. TRuminants usually make their own B vitamins in the rumen, but when they don’t feel good, they don’t always make enough. Vitamin B Complex and Thiamine also stimulates appetite to some degree.
There are many other things you could have on hand for animal emergencies. These suggestion are just a starting point.
Each farm and home is different.
What one needs on Farm A isn’t necessarily what will be needed on Farm B.
In any case, talk with your local vet ahead of time about the things you may need in an emergency. Your veterinarian can help you tailor your emergency grab bag to fit your farm needs.
***Today’s post is authored by Dr. Risa Hanninen. Dr. Hanninen is a 2013 graduate from Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine.Her practice, Northwest PA Veterinary Service, is a mobile veterinary practice that stretches across seven counties in Pennsylvania and into eastern Ohio.
If you live in northwestern Pennsylvania or eastern Ohio you can contact Dr. Hanninen at (814) 573-7013