First Aid for Your Pets

A little helpful advice for pet owners.

Of course, we all know that in an emergency we need to contact our Vet, so it would be a wise thing to have the telephone number of your Veterinary Practice always within easy reach.  You never know when you may need it.

The main thing to remember is always try to stay calm in an emergency. Never approach an animal that is in pain or injured too abruptly. It is best to approach slow and gentle.  The animal will be pretty scared if they are in pain, just as we would be, and may be liable to bite. So care must be taken. 

If you need to lift your pet, then gently place a hand under the chin (on the front of the chest), and the other hand behind the hind legs. Again remaining vigilant and taking care. If your pet seems aggressive you could try lifting them in a thick blanket or towel. They can still give a nasty bite through these though so care is needed.  If you are bitten by your pet it would be wise to seek medical advice as soon as possible. 

If it can be avoided, it is always best to phone your Vet rather that going straight to the surgery.  They will be able to advise you if it is an emergency and most importantly, the surgery will be able to prepare for your pets treatment before you arrive if indeed it is an emergency.  


  1. Place your pet on their side, check if breathing has stopped. You can do this by placing a small piece of fur at the nostril, if it moves, they are breathing. 
  2. Open their mouth and pull the tongue forward. Remove any obstructions such as blood (taking care not to get bitten). 
  3. If breathing does not start then extend the head so the nose is forward.  Hold the mouth closed and blow into the nose 10 times per minute. 
  4. If there is no heartbeat – push on the chest, just behind the forelegs every 1-2 seconds.  Administer 2 breaths into the nose every 15 pushes. 
  5. If this has not been successful after 3 minutes then recovery is unlikely. 

Always call your Veterinary Practice if:

  • Your pet is unable or reluctant to get up or move
  • Your pet is trying to pass urine or faeces and they cannot. A blocked bladder is an emergency and can be fatal if not treated immediately. If your pets tail is limp, it may have been trapped in a door. This needs to be assessed by your Vet, as this can cause bladder problems. 
  • Your pet is having trouble breathing, if the breathing is rapid or noisy. 
  • If your pet is continuously coughing
  • If your pet is in pain or discomfort
  • If your pet is young or elderly and had continuous vomiting or diarrhoea.
  • Any sudden difficulty with your pets balance.

If your pet has been involved in a road traffic accident but shows no sign of injury, please take them to your Vet as they may have injuries internally that are not visible.  Always lift and transport your pet with care.

Broken bones - Care is needed, never use a splint as this could cause more harm and be very painful.  

Poisoning – Never force your pet to vomit unless directed to do so by your Vet. If you have and packaging from the suspected substance take it with you when you contact your Vet.  If the suspect was a plant then take a cutting with you to the surgery.  If you know the name of the plant that is even more helpful. 

Fits –  If your pet seems to be having a fit the last thing they will need is any form of stimulation. So please do not hold the animal or try to comfort them. I know that this would be the first thing you would want to do, but it will not help them.  You must darken the room and reduce any noise. (turn off any TV or music, keep quiet).  Remove anything that could cause injury to your pet, such as items of furniture. If you cannot move the items then pad them with blankets and cushions. If your pet does bang into them, then it is less harmful if padded.  Contact your vet. 

Burns – Run cold water over the affected area for 5 minutes then contact your Vet. 

Bleeding – Apply pressure to the area as you would with a human, use towels or clothing, anything you can find. If blood continues to seep through you will need more layers.  NEVER use fibrous materials such as cotton wool directly onto the wound, this will make things worse. Also, NEVER use elastoplast over the would or directly onto your pets fur.

Fur contamination – It is important that you stop your pet from licking areas where the coat has been contaminated as some substances may be toxic. Never use Paint remover or anything like that on your pet. The best person to decide how to remove the substance is your Vet. Contact your Veterinarian and they will advise you if you should bathe your pet and what to use. 

Heatstroke – If your pet has been trapped somewhere hot for too long (a car or greenhouse) they may suffer with heatstroke. Signs are; Panting, dribbling, distressed and weak. Find somewhere cool and shady to place them, if there is a draught, even better.  Wet their coat with TEPID water and call the Vet.  Cold water will contract the blood vessels and slow down heat loss, so do not use cold water. 

Stings – If the sting is in the mouth or throat contact your vet as swelling may occur and restrict breathing.  If your pet has been stung try to remove the sting by pressing below the poison sac. Then bathe with water or a Bicarbonate of Soda solution for a Bee sting. For a Wasp sting bathe with vinegar.  You could sooth the area with ice too.  

Your Pets First Aid Kit

  • Bottle of sterile saline solution
  • NON Adhesive absorbent dressings
  • Bandages. The self adhesive ones are perfect. 
  • Conforming or open weave bandages
  • Sterile absorbent gauze
  • Cotton wool balls
  • Surgical sticky tape. 
  • Buster collar
  • Blunt ended scissors
  • Towel
  • Telephone number of your Veterinary Practice

Never under any circumstances administer human drugs to your pet, unless told to do so by your Vet. Do not offer your pet food or water in case they need to have an Anaesthetic. 

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User Comments
  1. avissado

    On January 29, 2012 at 8:45 am

    great article on pet first aid. superbly written too. I don’t have any pets but am sure people who do will appreciate your writing even more.

  2. jennyreeve

    On January 29, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Thank you avissado. I spent 10 years a s a Veterinary Nurse and thought these articles on pet health would be beneficial.

  3. Lisa Marie Mottert

    On February 1, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    A detailed format… so important, for pet owners to know.
    Thanks, for the share!

  4. jennyreeve

    On February 8, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Thank you Lisa Marie, my thoughts exactly. After spending 10 years a Veterinary Nurse, I realise how important it is to know a little first aid for pets.

  5. Mickybio

    On February 27, 2012 at 10:36 am

    nice one

  6. jennyreeve

    On February 27, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Thank you Mickybio.

  7. lauralu

    On June 6, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Excellent article with great advice!

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