first aid

IMPORTANT: I urge all of you raccoon parents to sign up for the American Red Cross Pet First Aid class. It's only 4 hours long and might save the life of your coon.

In any emergency, call your vet. Immediately. This information is only intended as a guideline until you get your coon to the vet.

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Coon First Aid Kit

You could buy a pet first aid kit for anywhere from $40 to $70, or you could make up one of your own inexpensively. It should have the following items.
  • Veterinarian's telephone number
  • Poison Hot Line number AND your credit card number
  • Saline eye wash
  • Blanket
  • Cold pack
  • Splint material
  • Real cotton balls
  • 1 quart of half and half in the freezer
  • 3 conforming bandages - used for wound dressings
  • 3 non-stick absorbent dressings
  • 6 antiseptic wipes - to clean wounds
  • Absorbent gauze roll - could be used for a muzzle if necessary
  • 4 absorbent gauze pads and tape
  • Old clean cotton socks to stem bleeding
  • Antibiotic cream for eczema, sore spots and minor burns
  • Tweezers - to get ticks and objects out
  • Scissors
  • Zinc oxide tape - it's strong
  • Styptic powder or pencil - to stop bleeding
  • Syringes - various sizes
  • Electronic thermometer for the ear. Can you even imagine taking a coon's temp. the old fashioned up the ass way?
  • Antihistamine (Benadryl 10 mg) for allergic reactions
  • Baby aspirin
  • Stethoscope (because we are fat and it's hard to find a pulse)


We coons, having type A personalities, are prone to heart problems. You, our human guardians should be prepared to help in an emergency. If your raccoon is limp, check for breathing and a pulse (in the femoral artery in the groin. If he's unresponsive, CHECK HIS AIRWAY to see that it's clear. WARNING: the coon may bite by reflex.
Rescue Breathing
Lay the coon on his side - tilt the head slightly to extend neck and head. Pull tongue out between front teeth. Check with your finger to remove any foreign matter from mouth including vmoit. Try 4 or 5 rescue breaths. Close coon's mouth and perform nose to mouth ventilation. If they have gone in easily, stop and see if he's breathing on his own. If not, continue 20 - 30 breaths per minute and begin chest compressions if there is no pulse.
Heimlich Maneuver
If the breaths did not go in easily, STOP and clear the airway by the Heimlich maneuver. Turn the coon upside down with the back against your chest. With both arms, give 5 short thrusts to the abdomen. Stop; check to see if object is visible. If so, remove it and give 2 rescue breaths. Use gravity to help expel the object. Even if the coon goes into cardiac arrest, you must clear the airway before starting chest compressions.
Chest Compressions
If there is no heartbeat, place the raccoon on a hard surface with his right side down. Take his left front leg and bend it at the elbow, rotating at the shoulder. The point where the elbow touches the body is here you place your hands. With the coon facing you, place one hand underneath his right side and one on top. compress the chest 1/2" to 1". Your elbows should be locked during compressions. Chest compressions are alternated with breaths. Do five compressions for each breath Check for pulse.
REMEMBER: Remain calm. Raccoons can sense your distress but not understand what's happening. guage is important. Be calm, yet deliberate in your actions if you can.


Baby coons have a tendency to jump in water filled bathtubs and not be able to get out. Adults may leap into a swimming pool and face the same problem. If lungs have filled with water, lift the raccoon upside down (head pointed at floor) and swing it gently back and forth to let gravity expel the liquid from the lungs. If the lungs are still full, squeeze the chest firmly until water is expelled. Begin artificial respiration and chest massage immediately.


If your coon is stiff as a salt cod and it's cold outside, he's probably suffering from hypothermia. Wrap him in a blanket and take him inside. Apply warm water packs to his armpits, chest and abdomen. Change packs as they cool. You can also warm him with a hair dryer or warm bath. As he begins to come around, give him some honey in water. Tiny orphans often suffer hypothermia. A good way to gently warm them is to put them inside your shirt, next to your skin. Massage helps. After warming an older coon, if you give fluids they should be warm, never cold nor hot.

Hyperthermia (Heat stroke)

If the airconditioner has broken down, and I'm panting like a happy puppy, I'm probably having a heat stroke. When the ambient temperature meets or exceeds the raccoon's temperature, there's a good chance he'll suffer a heat stroke. Time is critical to avoid or minimize brain damage. Symptoms include rapid, noisy breathing, an unsteady gait, and bloody diarrhea. If you have the equipment, give him a cold water enema. Give him a cold, not icy, bath.


If you suspect your raccoon has been poisoned, contact one of the two Toxicology Hotlines for Animals: 900-680-0000 or 888-426-4435. Both of them cost $45, but they are well worth it. Follow up calls are free. You talk to a vet. or veterinarian toxicologist 24 hours a day. They can also fax pertinent information to your vet. Tell them what poison you think your coon has ingested, and they'll tell you whether to induce vomiting or not and what to do before you transport the coon to your vet.

If you have to induce vomiting, you can by placing 1/4 tsp. salt at the back of the tongue, or giving 1 tsp. of syrup of Ipecac per 10 lbs. of body weight. Next, you have to delay absorption of the poison by mixing 5 grams of activated charcoal into 20 cc of water. Give 1 tsp per 2 lbs. of body weight. Then, 30 min. later, give the coon 1 tsp. of milk of magnesia per 5 lbs. of body weight.

These poisons generally call for inducing vomiting: strychnine, sodium fluroacetate (a rat poison), arsenic (antidote available), lead (antidote available), phosphorus (rat poison), Wafarine (Vitamin K antidote), antifreeze, food poisoning, toad poisoning, human medications.

Do not induce vomiting with gasoline, kerosene, turpentine, or any petroleum product. Administer 1 oz. vegetable oil by mouth. 30 min. later, give milk of magnesia. For corrosives, (acids and alkali) found in household cleaners, rinse out the coon's mouth for acids and give him milk of magnesia. For alkali, use 1 part lemon juice to 4 parts water.


Inevitably your raccoon will burn himself while trying to snick the chicken out of the pot while it's still cooking. Burns are very serious, so call your vet immediately. For small burns, apply cold water soaks or use ice packs for 20 min. to relieve pain. Clip hair away and wash the area gently with surgical soap. Blot dry and apply a topical antibiotic ointment. Protect the area with a loose fitting dressing, if possible.

For chemical burns, flush them with lots of water. Acid on the skin in neutralized by rinsing with baking soda and water (2 tbls. to a cup). Alkali is neutralized by rinsing with a vinegar solution (1 tbls. to a cup. To be effective, this must be done within 5 min. Blot dry, apply antibiotic ointment, and bandage loosely.

Shock and Wounds

Shock, a lack of adequate blood flow to meet the body's needs, can be caused by dehydration, heat stroke, severe infection, poisoning, hemorrhage, trauma or electrical shock. Signs of shock include: a drop in body temperature, shivering, listlessness, weakness in the limbs, cold feet and a weak, faint heart. Another good indicator of shock is pale mucous membranes, i.e. gums, inside of eye lids. If you press on the gums with your fingertip and remove your finger, the area will pale then refill with blood. This should take 1-2 seconds. If it takes longer, it's indicative of late stage shock or decreased cardiac output.

Control bleeding if necessary. Arterial bleeding is spurting bright red blood. Venous bleeding is oozing, dark red blood. You can control bleeding by either applying a pressure dressing or tourniquet.

For a pressure dressing, take several sterile gauze pads and place over the wound and bandage snugly. Watch that there's no swelling below the pressure pack which would indicate impaired circulation. In that case, loosen the bandage or untie it and apply hand pressure.

A tourniquet may be needed to control a spurting artery. If so, place it on a leg or tail above the wound between the wound and heart. Take a gauze roll, loop it around the limb, tighten it with a stick inserted between the loop. Twist the stick until bleeding is controlled. A tourniquet must be loosened periodically or gangrene can result.


Ingested Glass Shards and Other Sharp Nonedible Items

If your coon has eaten any sharp object, call your vet immediately and get the coon to him ASAP. If there is any delay in reaching the vet, do this: Be sure to use REAL cotton balls, not cosmetic puffs of man made fibers. Take the half and half out of the freezer (see first aid kit). Defrost and soak 3 cotton balls torn into small pieces in cream. Feed them to the coon. As cotton works through the digestive tract, it picks up tiny pieces of glass etc. Get the coon to the vet as soon as possible.

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