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In this next section of your pet first aid course, we’re going to cover many illnesses and symptoms that you can monitor at home. Doing so to the best of your ability will help you recognize a problem early when your pet isn’t feeling well or an emergency in which you’ll need to act quickly. At the end of the lesson, we’ll provide you with a Word about using hydrogen peroxide on your pets.

Long ago a myth began and over the years it seems to have grown. What is this myth? That you can check your dog’s nose and based on the temperature or moisture level, you can determine how your dog is feeling. Sadly, this isn’t true. If only it were that easy.

In this next section, we’ll be going over several things like:

  1. How to assess your pet’s health and wellness at home.
  2. Some ways in which you can provide first aid for your pets at home, either before or instead of going to the vet, or to allow safer transport to the vet in case of an emergency.
  3. How to recognize an emergency and when you should escalate care quickly, as in seeking immediate veterinary care vs. making an appointment and waiting a while to see the vet.

Understanding the difference between a minor illness and an emergency will be key, as will properly responding to either. By the end of this section, you may just discover that gauging your pet’s health is easier than it sounds; though maybe still not as easy as checking for a cool, wet nose.

A Word About Using Hydrogen Peroxide on Your Pets

Hydrogen peroxide is a common item in a household that most people think has some health, wellness, and first aid benefits. But is it safe to use on pets? (Spoiler Alert: Is it even safe to use on humans?)

Many of you reading this probably have had some experience with hydrogen peroxide when you were younger. A child gets a minor cut or scrape. Mom grabs a brown bottle of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and pours a little over the wound. And the mysteriously foamy bubbles kill the bacteria that’s present and disinfects the wound. Good times!

However, it turns out that maybe hydrogen peroxide, even at that 3 percent dilution, isn’t as helpful as we thought. In fact, it might even be hurting the skin when applied to wounds.

You see, it’s true that hydrogen peroxide kills the bacteria that may cause an infection. But it also irritates the skin cells and impedes your body’s natural healing ability. However, according to Lisa Lippman, DVM, it still has one important use in first aid.

“One should only use hydrogen peroxide orally to induce vomiting and only under a veterinarian’s recommendation,” says Dr. Lippman. “Never use hydrogen peroxide to clean a wound on a dog or cat because it stings and will damage the surrounding tissue. It also will slow down the natural healing process, making your pet more susceptible to infection.”

So, there you have it! No hydrogen peroxide unless it’s to induce vomiting, in both your furry and non-furry housemates.

Read master pet first aid and CPR instructor Arden Moore’s wonderful article on the subject: Is Hydrogen Peroxide Safe for Pets? Other important things you’ll also discover in that article include:

  • Other household items you shouldn’t use on your pets
  • Safer options for cleaning and disinfecting minor cuts
  • The proper dosage for using hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting