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At-Home First Aid for Pets

How to handle some common pet emergencies.
Pet Health
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Illustration by John Ueland

Bee stings and broken teeth were just some of the scary pet problems Family Circle readers shared with us on Facebook. We helped solve them with at-home first-aid advice from Kimberly May, DVM, assistant director of communications for the American Veterinary Medical Association.

What should I do if my pet gets strung by a bee? If your animal has a history of reacting to stings, carry an EpiPen or give your pet antihistamines before you take him somewhere he may be exposed. Otherwise, an ice pack can relieve pain or puffiness. Stings aren't worrisome unless the eyes, nose or mouth swell or if he seems ill. If that happens, go to a vet or an emergency care facility immediately.

What should I do if my pet has her nails cut too short? Apply Styptic powder to stop the bleeding. You can also use tape or an adhesive bandage to put pressure on the nail. Whatever you do, stay calm so that your pet will too—if she gets excited, the blood flow will increase. If bleeding continues for more than 30 minutes despite first aid, contact your vet.

What should I do if my pet swallows a foreign object? As soon as your pet consumes something dangerous, contact your vet for next steps. She may recommend you try to make your dog or cat vomit the item back up with hydrogen peroxide, but check with your vet on the amount to give since too much can be harmful. In general, keep floors and couches clear of spare change, decorations and anything that smells or looks like food—especially if it can easily be eaten.

What should I do if my pet eats a box of chocolates? Chocolate can be deadly for our pets. (The dark kind is the riskiest.) Call your vet for a treatment recommendation, which will depend on your pet's weight, the type of chocolate he ate and the amount consumed.

What should I do if my pet breaks a tooth? Make an appointment with your vet. Meanwhile, decrease pain by eliminating rawhide or other treats that are tough to chew from her diet. Offer soft snacks or soak dry food.

Keep the numbers for your vet and the Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) in a prominent spot.