When your pet has an emergency, being prepared is very important. If you have an emergency, our veterinarians are on call 24 hours a day to assist you. You can also stay prepared for emergencies by putting together a pet first aid kit.
Remember, researching on-line is not a substitute for veterinary care. However, during a pet emergency or when your pet is seriously ill, knowing some basic first aid can help before you are able to get your pet to a veterinarian. Always seek veterinary care following first-aid attempts.
If you need to muzzle your pet use a strip of soft cloth, rope, necktie, or nylon stocking. Wrap around the nose, under the chin and tie behind the ears. Care must be taken when handling weak or injured pets. Even normally docile pets will bite when in pain. Allow the pet to pant after handling by loosening or removing the muzzle. Do not use a muzzle in a case of vomiting. Cats and small pets may be difficult to muzzle. A towel placed around the head will help control small pets.
If your pet can't walk, a door, board, blanket, or floor mat can be used as a stretcher to transport injured or weak animals.
Apply firm, direct pressure with a clean bandage or cloth over the bleeding area until the bleeding stops. Apply steady pressure to the wound for 10 solid minutes. Continually releasing the pressure to check the wound will hamper the clotting. Avoid bandages that cut off circulation. Call your veterinarian immediately.
(Chemical, electrical, or heat, including from a heating pad). Symptoms include singed hair, blistering, swelling, redness of skin. Flush the burn immediately with large amounts of cool, running water. Apply an ice pack for 15-20 minutes. Do not place an ice pack directly on the skin, wrap the pack in a light towel or other cover first. If the animal has large quantities of dry chemicals on its skin, brush them off. Water may activate some dry chemicals. Call your veterinarian immediately.
Symptoms include difficulty breathing, excessive pawing at the mouth, blue lips and tongue. Be sure to protect yourself as well as the animal, as the pet will likely be frantic and may be more likely to bite. If the pet can still partially breathe, it is best to keep the animal calm and get to a veterinarian as quickly as possible. Look into the mouth to see if a foreign object in the throat is visible. If you can, clear the airway by removing the object with pliers or tweezers, being careful not to push it further down the throat. If it is lodged too deep or if the pet collapses, place your hands on both sides of the animal's rib cage and apply firm, quick pressure. Or place the animal on its side and strike the side of the rib cage firmly with the palm of your hand three or four times. Repeat this procedure until the object is dislodged or you arrive at the veterinarian's office. Call your veterinarian immediately.
Symptoms include pain, inability to use a limb, or limb at odd angle. Muzzle the pet and look for bleeding. If you can control bleeding without causing more injury, then do so. DO NOT TRY TO SET THE FRACTURE by pulling or tugging on the limb. Gently stabilize the limb above and below the injury. Rolled up magazines can be used as a splint. Transport the pet to the veterinarian immediately, supporting the injured part as well as you can.
Symptoms include rapid or labored breathing, vomiting, high body temperature, or collapse. Place the animal in a cool or shaded area. Immediately bathe the pet in a tub of tepid water or gently soak the animal with a garden hose or wrap it in a cool, wet towel. Do not overcool the animal. Stop cooling when rectal temperature reaches 103 degrees Fahrenheit. Call your veterinarian immediately.
Symptoms include vomiting, convulsions, diarrhea, salivation, weakness, depression, pain. Record what the pet ingested and how much. Immediately call your veterinarian or poison control center. Do not induce vomiting unless instructed to do so. In case of toxins or chemicals on the skin from oils, paints, insecticides and other contact irritants, request directions as to how to wash the toxin off.
Symptoms include salivation, loss of control of urine or stool, violent muscle twitching, loss of consciousness. Move the pet away from any objects that could be harmful during the seizure. Use a blanket for padding and protection. Do not put yourself at risk by restraining the pet during the seizure. Time the seizure. They usually last only 2 to 3 minutes. Afterwards, keep the animal calm and quiet. Call your veterinarian immediately.
Symptoms include irregular breathing, dilated pupils, pale gums and rapid heart rate. Shock may occur as a result of a serious injury or fright. Keep the animal gently restrained, quiet, and warm, with the lower body elevated. Call your veterinarian immediately; shock is life threatening and needs medical attention.
Remove any obstructions in the mouth. If an animal is not breathing, place it on a firm surface with its left side up. Check for a heartbeat by listening at the area where the elbow touches the chest. If you hear a heartbeat but the animal is not breathing, close its mouth and breathe directly into its nose--not the mouth--until the chest expands. Repeat 12 to 15 times per minute. If there is no pulse, apply heart massage at the same time. The heart is located in the lower half of the chest, behind the elbow of the front left leg. Place one hand below the heart to support the chest. Place the other hand over the heart and compress gently. To massage the hearts of cats and other tiny pets, compress the chest with the thumb and forefinger of one hand. Apply heart massage 80-120 times per minute for larger animals and 100-150 per minute for smaller ones. Alternate heart massage with breathing. Call your veterinarian immediately.
Please note: Even in the hands of well-trained veterinary health professionals, the success of resuscitation is very low overall. Success may be slightly higher in the cases of drowning or electrical shock.
First Aid Kit
- Gauze pads
- Ace bandage
- Veterinary self-adhesive wrap
- Antibiotic ointment
- Sterile eye flush
- Buffered aspirin
- Q tips
- Alcohol pads
- Moist towelettes