Administering First Aid to your Pet

Veterinary care is something that all pet parents think about, however many don’t stop to think about the importance of providing first aid to our pets if it is needed. Just like it’s important to know how to administer first aid to our family members, it is equally important to know how to administer first aid to our pets.


Before we dive into the situations that require first aid, it is important to understand that pet first aid is not a substitute for veterinary care. Pet first aid is simply that; First Aid. It is the aid that is given initially to help save your pet’s life. Here are the situations that may require pet first aid:

  • Poisoning and exposure to toxins-If your pet gets poison or toxins on their fur, wash them immediately. In the event that your pet swallows something it may be necessary to induce vomiting. The Animal Poison Control Center hotline is a great resource: 888-426-4435
  • Seizures- keep objects away from your pet, time the seizure and then call your vet right away.
  • Fractures-Be very gentle with your pet and use a strip of gauze to muzzle them. Be careful not to agitate your pet and then call your vet.
  • Bleeding-external. Apply pressure and bandage. If bleeding persists, call your vet.
  • Bleeding-internal. Symptoms of internal bleeding can be bleeding from the nose, mouth or coughing up blood. Keep your pet warm and comfortable and call your vet right away.
  • Burns-muzzle the pet; apply ice water and compress the burned area. Call your vet.
  • Choking- if you are able to see the obstruction in your pet’s mouth, swipe the mouth to remove it. If your pet stops breathing and you are unable to remove the object, place both hands on your pets rib cage and apply firm quick pressure. Keep doing this until the item is dislodged or you arrive at your vet’s office. This would be much like the Heimlich maneuver on a person.
  • Heatstroke- First NEVER leave your pet in a warm car and if the temperature gets exceedingly warm outside, bring your pet indoors. This is one emergency that can be easily avoided. If your pet does get over-heated, place a cool towel around his head and neck and repeat. Transport him to the vet.
  • No signs of breathing- if your pet is not breathing you can perform CPR by opening your pet’s airway, move their tongue to the side and check for obstructions. If there are none, you can perform rescue breathing by closing your pet’s mouth and breathing into his nostrils. Continue this until you see his chest expand.

Again, remember, pet first aid should never be seen as a replacement for more advanced veterinary care.  Even if it seems that your pet is ok, it is important to get him to your vet immediately, so he can be examined more closely. Your vet may even recommend that your pet stay over night for observation.

Treat pet first aid much like you would human first aid: have first aid supplies on hand for your pet and keep emergency numbers close by if you should need them.


Source: AMVA

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