First Aid for
burns depends on type of burn.
Since most animals have a natural fear of fire, most pets are burned because of human carelessness. Frequently, burns involve the paws and are caused by harsh chemicals or by stepping on hot surfaces. Cats are particularly
susceptible to pad damage if they jump up on a hot stove plate, or contact cleaner residues during housekeeping. Make sure to keep cats out of the room or when cooking or cleaning is underway or if they are in the room, keep a careful eye on them! Occasionally, pets are accidentally scalded with hot water or burnt with commercial hair dryers. Some pets are burned when they chew on electric cords or lick at caustic chemicals.
Burns caused by heat, chemicals, radiation, or electricity lead to tissue injury. Superficial burns, while quite painful, are generally not serious. On the other hand, deep burns can be serious and may even result in death due to shock, loss of body fluids, and infection.
Burns can be difficult to detect because a pet's hair coat may mask the damage to the underlying tissues. Usually, a superficial burn is characterized by pain, singed hair that does not pull out easily, and reddened skin.
A deep burn, on the other hand, tends to be less painful, since the nerve endings have been destroyed, and the patient is depressed or in shock. The skin may appear normal, or it may appear burned of off colour
(greyish) and the hair pulls out easily.
When a superficial burn occurs, one should never apply butter, fat, grease, or ointments. Instead, immerse the affected area in cool to lukewarm water as soon as possible to prevent heat from penetrating deeper into the tissue and causing further damage. Gently pat the area dry, cover the area loosely with a clean, moist bandage if possible and then contact your veterinarian immediately.
For deep burns, soak a towel or cloth with cold water and apply it to the burned area as quickly as possible. Keep it well soaked until veterinary assistance is available. Keep the patient warm and quiet and transport the patient to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
Do not give any medications without first consulting your veterinarian. If the patient is conscious and not vomiting, and if there will be a
delay in transport, it is possible that your veterinarian may suggest administration of a solution (in small amounts only) of
half a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon bicarbonate of soda to a litre of water. Do not give any medications without consulting your veterinarian. If more than 50 per cent of the body has been burned, the chances for recovery are low.
Skin damage depends upon the length and intensity of exposure. With a superficial burn, you will see redness in the skin, sometimes blisters and perhaps slight swelling. The burn will be tender. With deep burns, the skin will appear white, the hair will come out easily when pulled and pain will be severe. If more than 15 percent of the body surface is involved in a deep burn, the outlook is poor. In such cases fluid seeps from the damaged area. This can lead to shock.
Acid on the skin is neutralized by rinsing with baking soda (four tablespoons to
a pint of water). Alkali is neutralized by rinsing with a weak vinegar solution
(two tablespoons to a pint of water). Blot dry and apply antibiotic
ointment, then bandage loosely. Olive oil can also be applied. Brush off any dry chemicals that are on the skin. Beware, water may activate some dry chemicals. See your
veterinarian as quickly as possible.
In some cases, such as electric shock (when a puppy may chew on an electric cord) when you can feel the heart beating but the dog is not breathing place the dog on its side, alternately depress and release the chest by pressing gently on the rib cage and its most posterior margin. Sometimes aromatic inhalants will help as well.
Do not apply turpentine or kerosene to remove paint, tars, or grease from dog's coats. Both of these products can produce painful burns. Instead use vegetable oil and then wash with mild soap and water and apply more oil for a soothing effect.
Seriously burned dogs need medical attention immediately
as they may go into shock.
Tip: The next time your dog suffers from a burn, cut, or scrape,
try clipping off a piece of a fleshy aloe leaf, slit it open, and apply directly the wound.