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Emergency First Aid

Treatment for Turtles

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If you find an injured turtle or your pet turtle or tortoise
is injured, of course the best thing to do is to take it
immediately to a veterinarian. But there are some things you
can do to help until you can get to the vet, and if it is
only a small injury, you may be able to treat it yourself.

Here are the things to check in an emergency, and some
things to do to help the turtle heal...

1. Is the turtle alive? Can you see it breathing? If it is
not breathing there is not much you can do, although you
could try blowing a few small puffs of air in its face to
see if it will start breathing again.

2. If it is unconscious but you can see it breathing (Look
at the skin behind its front legs, it may be moving in and
out as the turtle breathes.), then next check to see if it
is bleeding a lot. If it is, you'll have to slow down the
bleeding. If the bleeding is heavy, press a sterile pad from
your first aid kit, or at least a clean soft cloth, over the
wound and hold it there to stop the blood escaping while you
hurry to the vet.

3. If the turtle's shell is broken, and you are not a very
experienced turtle keeper, please take it to the vet.
Turtles are very hardy and many have healed from terrible
shell injuries, but the vet can make sure that pieces of the
broken shell aren't damaging anything internally, and also
help to prevent infection in the wound with antibiotics and
patching for the shell if needed.

4. If the bleeding isn't heavy and the wound doesn't look
really serious, you can help to slow the bleeding by taking
the turtle into a cool (not cold) place, or if it isn't
bleeding much, put it into a pan of shallow cool water for a
bit. A little baking soda applied to a small wound may stop
the bleeding.

When the bleeding stops, clean the wounds with clean water
or hydrogen peroxide, and if you don't have antibiotic salve
in your turtle first aid kit, apply a little honey under a
loose bandage. (Honey kills bacteria and speeds healing.)

Once the wounds are treated and bleeding has stopped, treat
the turtle for shock by keeping it in a clean, dark, dry
place, warm but not too warm, and checking on it
occasionally for at least 48 hours.

Be sure to check on the turtle a few times a day until it is
completely healed, making sure that the wound is clean and
doesn't look infected. If the wounds are not healing or look
infected, take the turtle to a veterinarian right away. When
you do see your vet, tell him/her about everything you did
in your first aid treatment, so they can determine if any
other care is needed. 

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