4 Things You Need to Know about Pet First Aid

Administering first aid to anyone can be scary, but when it is your pet and they can’t exactly tell you what’s going on can be the most frightening feeling in the world. What would you do if:

  • ….its a hot summer day and your cat is overheating?
  • ….you think that your cat is having a seizure right in front of you?
  • ….you hear a loud thump and realize that your dog fell down the stairs and is now limping?
  • ….your dog go into a bag of dark chocolate that was left out on the kitchen counter?

The feelings of panic and not knowing what to do might go along with the situations, which is okay. These are our recommendations to make sure that you’re prepared to help your furry friend in any situation.


Please always remember that any first aid you provide to your pet should be followed by an immediate trip to your veterinarian. Administering first aid to your pet is not a substitute for veterinary care, but it may save your pet’s life until veterinary treatment can be given.


Number 1: Put together a pet-friendly first aid kit!

It’s easy to go out and get a first aid kit from your local store, but it is probably cheaper to put together your own and you’ll know that the supplies in the kit are specifically there for your pet. Here is a list of recommended things to have on hand in your pet first aid kit:

  • Phone numbers and the medical records for your pet which includes medication & vaccination history. Your normal veterinarian will have access to these records, but if you need to go to an emergency veterinarian clinic, they won’t have those records. Have your veterinarian’s phone number, an emergency veterinary clinic, and Animal Poison Control Center (888) 426-4435. If you don’t know of an emergency veterinary clinic in your area, ask your regular veterinarian if they partner with an emergency clinic or if they have a recommendation.
  • Gauze, which will be helpful if you need to wrap any wounds or muzzle an injured animal for their safety and yours.
  • Non-stick bandages, towels, or strips of clean cloth. These will help control any bleeding or protect wounds.
  • Adhesive tapes or bandages so that the gauze wrap or bandage can be secured. (Do not use human adhesive bandages i.e Band-Aids on your pet)
  • Milk of Magnesia Activated Charcoal & Hydrogen Peroxide (3%). The Magnesia Activated Charcoal will absorb any poison and the Hydrogen Peroxide (3%) will induce vomiting. Please make sure to contact your veterinarian or local poison control center before inducing vomiting or treating an animal for poison.
  • Digital Thermometer. Purchase the “fever” thermometer as the temperature on regular thermometers doesn’t go high enough for pets. This is to check your pet’s temperature, and as weird as it is, you cannot get a temperature from your pet by their mouth, you will need to take the temperature rectally.
  • Eyedropper or a large syringe without the needle. This will help give oral treatments or flush any wounds.
  • Muzzle (in an emergency you could use a rope, necktie, soft cloth, nylon stocking, or a small towel. You’ll need this to cover your pet’s head, but if your pet is vomiting do not muzzle them!
  • Another leash. Having another leash in the first aid kit will have you be ready for transporting your pet if they are capable of walking without further injury.
  • A stretcher of some kind. This could be an actual stretcher if you have one, or a door, board, blanket or floor mat. This will keep your pet stabilized and prevent further injury during transport.


Number 2: Tips for handling your injured pet!

This can be the really scary part. You definitely don’t want your pet to feel pain and helping them can make anyone’s anxiety go through the roof. You need to be careful to avoid getting hurt, bitten, or scratched.

  • As much as you know your fur-baby, sometimes your fur-baby will not be so gentle or won’t bite you if they are injured. Pain and fear can make your pet unpredictable and sometimes dangerous.
  • It will be hard not to hug your fur-baby when they are injured, but it is important not and it is also important to keep your face away from your pet’s mouth. While you might want to comfort your pet, this may hurt them more or scare them.
  • Perform any examination slowly and gently across your pet’s body and stop if your pet becomes more upset.
  • Be sure to contact your local veterinarian or emergency clinic before you attempt to move your pet, so they are ready when you arrive.
  • If your pet isn’t vomiting, it might be a good idea to muzzle them to avoid getting bitten. Stockings, towels, or gauze rolls are good to use for your dog and wrapping your cat or another small animal, loosely avoiding their airway. Please do not muzzle your pet if it is vomiting.
  • Try to stabilize your pet’s injury before moving them by using a splint or bandage.
  • Keep your pet confined to a smaller area when transporting them to avoid the risk of additional injury. Pet carriers or a large box work for smaller animals while a blanket or a board will work for transporting larger animals.
  • Always keep your pet’s medical records safe and easily accessible and bring them with you when you need to go for emergency treatment.


Number 3: Emergencies can happen everywhere!

If you choose to take your sweet furry friend on a vacation, you’ll need to be prepared. Pack a smaller, more simple first aid kit for your pet that is similar to the one that you made for your home. It is also recommended that antidiarrheal medication goes along in your travel-sized first aid kid (be sure to check with your veterinarian to make sure that it is safe for your pet). Keep a list of phone numbers of your veterinarian, animal poison control hotline (888-426-4235), and a 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital in the area that you are visiting. When your pet is traveling, make sure that your pet is wearing their ID tag that contains your information and it would be a good idea to have your pet wear a travel tag or collar that has the information on where you are staying while you’re away from home. Daily “health checks” are good to perform on your best friend and if there are any changes, contact a local veterinarian if you are concerned about any changes you may see.


Number 4: Have a plan in case of a disaster!

 It’s important to include your pet in the emergency plan that you and your family establish in the event that there is a natural disaster or a fire. If you have a pre-determined plan already in place and make sure that your pet is microchipped with the information current, it will help you think more clearly in the event that something does happen. A plan will also allow you to be calm and collected while communicating/cooperating with any emergency personnel. It will be good to compile a pet evacuation kit that is easy to carry and that is waterproof. You should have the following in your evacuation kit:

  • your pet first aid kit
  • two weeks of the medication that your pet needs (you’ll need to rotate this to make sure that it does not expire)
  • 3-7 days’ worth of their food (you’ll need to rotate this to make sure that it does not expire)
  • at least 7 days’ worth of water
  • feeding dish/water bowl
  • important documents like proof of ownership and vet records
  • photo of your pet
  • emergency contact list that includes your veterinary’s phone number
  • Any sanitation things i.e. litter box with litter and scoop for your cat, or doggie poo bags, paper towels, trash bags and some sort of disinfectant
  • Muzzle
  • Favorite Toys and Treats
  • Extra blanket or bedding

It would also be a good idea to have your pet’s carrier in a good location with your evacuation kit. After the disaster, asses yourself, your family and your pet. Make sure that you get your family out of your home or wherever you are at quickly and safely. If your pet becomes lost, it’s always good to physically check animal control shelters daily for lost animals and to use social media to try to find your pet. Also, check with your vet to see if their microchip has been scanned.