Aug. 24, 2009 -- What would you do if your pet got sick and you couldn't get to the vet?
There are items in your home -- in the kitchen or medicine cabinet -- that can help. But there are also some remedies that are safe for humans but dangerous for animals.
Veterinarian Marty Becker has great advice on the human medicines and household items that could help your pet in an emergency, and the ones to avoid.
It's important to note that there's no substitute for a visit to the vet for expert help. Becker says that even if you can't get to a vet right away, call one on the phone before trying to treat your pet yourself.
But when there is absolutely no help available -- you're off camping, it's a holiday, you experience some other emergency -- there are things you can do if you have to take action quickly at home. In that case, a follow-up visit to your vet is a must.
Never Give Pets Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen or Aspirin
You might think that it's safe to give your pets the pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medication that all of us have at home, such as aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen, but Becker says that's a big no-no.
These drugs aren't dangerous to people, but they are to pets, especially cats. Nearly 10,000 calls to the animal poison control center in 2008 were the result of owners giving their furry friends one of these drugs. Never use those drugs without your vet giving you the OK.
But there are some common drugs and household products you can use to help your pet get through an emergency.
Safe Human Medicines for Pets
Use: Benadryl works well if your pet has an allergic reaction, but only if your vet says it's OK to use.
Dosage: 25 milligrams for pets up to 30 pounds, 50 mg for pets up to 80 pounds and 75 mg for pets over 80 pounds. Use one dose every six hours.
Use: Hydrogen peroxide can be used to induce vomiting if your pet has gotten into something he shouldn't. It's important that you use the 3 percent solution -- you'll find that information right on the label.
Dosage: One teaspoon for every five pounds, up to five tablespoons. It's a good idea to write down how much your pet can take and post it on the fridge or somewhere easy to find, because when you need to induce vomiting, it's usually an emergency and you don't want to waste time doing the math.
Safe Human Medicines, Products for Pets
Use: For an upset stomach, you can use Pepto-Bismol for dogs, but never cats. Pepto-Bismol contains an aspirinlike substance that cats can't tolerate.
Dosage: A child's dose, as indicated on the package, for every 40 pounds of pet. So if your dog is 10 pounds, you'd use a quarter dose; an 80-pound dog would get two doses.
Safe Household Products for Pets
Corn Starch or All-Purpose Flour: Most of us have these items in our cupboards, and they are great to stop minor bleeding, such as bleeding around your pet's nails. Just pack it on, and it will stop the bleeding and soak up the blood.
Contact Lens Saline Solution: You can use contact lens solution to flush out wounds. The solution is basically saline, which is what is used in emergency rooms to clean out wounds.
Baking Soda: This is great for treating bee stings in pets and people. Bees leave a stinger attached to a venom sac, and you want to remove the stinger without breaking the sac. Mix some baking soda and water into a paste, let it dry, and then use a credit card to gently scrape out the stinger.
Betadine Solution (an antiseptic): This is a safe iodine solution often kept around the house as an antiseptic to use on cuts to clean and prevent infection.
For more information on your pet's health, Dr. Becker recommends VeterinaryPartners.com
And if you're looking for a new pet, the Humane Society is a great place to find one. To find out more or a location near you, visit http://www.hsus.org/.