Basic First Aid For Pets

Basic First Aid For Pets



Signs that your pet is choking includes excessive pawing at the mouth and choking or coughing sounds. Proceed with caution as a choking pet is more likely to bite. If you can easily see and reach the object lodged in the throat, remove it with tweezers. Be careful not to push the object further down the throat. If you cannot remove the object, apply quick and firm pressure to your pets rib cage. You can also lay the pet on its side and strike the rib cage 3-4 times with the palm of your hand.  This technique is used to dislodge the object from behind by using the air in the lungs.  First Aid For Life makes videos on a number of life saving techniques for pets and you can learn more about their organization at  Emma Hammett from First Aid For Life shows us how you can save your dog's life in this video.

Heat Stroke

It is dangerous to leave a pet in a car because the temperature in a car can rise sharply. There are 16 states where it is illegal to leave your pet confined or unattended in a vehicle. Among the states that prohibit such danger include Arizona, California, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and West Virginia.

If you suspect a pet is endangered from heat, move the dog or cat to a shaded area. Place a cold or cool towel on its neck and head. Re-wet and re-wrap the cool cloth every few minutes.  Run water from a hose or faucet over the abdomen of the pet for faster results.


In case of external bleeding, firstly muzzle your pet to prevent the pet from biting in a panic. Apply pressure over the wound using a clean gauze for several minutes. This will encourage clotting. If the bleeding is excessive, tie a tourniquet using an elastic band or gauze between the wound and the body. The tourniquet can be loosened every 10 minutes for 10 seconds. This will control the bleeding while on the way to the veterinarian.


If you suspect your pet has a broken bone, muzzle your pet to prevent the pet from biting in a panic. Lay your pet on a board or a firm surface while transporting to the veterinarian. This surface will serve as a stretcher. Homemade splints can cause more harm than good. Do not apply pressure to the injured area.


Household cleaning products, antifreeze, human foods, or common household products could be toxic to animals. Flush your pets’ skin with water immediately after exposure. If you suspect the animal has consumed a toxic product, proceed to the nearest veterinarian. Collect the contents that your pet vomited to show the doctor.

Not Breathing

It’s important to stay calm and check if your pet is unconscious. Secure an airway and check to see if there are objects lodge in the throat. Perform rescue breaths by closing the pet’s mouth and breathing into its nose until the chest expands. Continue the rescue breaths once every 4 seconds.

No Heartbeat

After an airway has been secured and rescue breaths are administered (from “Not Breathing” section), chest compressions can be done if the pet does not have a heartbeat.

Chest compressions are done on a firm surface while pets are lying on their right side.  The heart is on the lower left side of the chest.  For medium to large dogs, you can press down about one inch.  For cats and smaller pets, use less force around their chest.  Alternate rescue breaths and chest compressions.  You can maintain resuscitation attempt until you arrive at the veterinarian. 


In all these situations, you will need to take your pet to the doctor.  First aid care is temporary and should be followed by veterinary care.

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