Pet First Aid: How to Give Pets First Aid

Pets tend to be full of energy, which is not always the best way to avoid an accident. In this post, our Danbury vets will talk about first aid for pets and what to do if your pet ever gets in trouble.

Noah's Ark Animal Hospital wants to make sure you're ready if your dog or cat needs first aid. So, we've put together a list of essential items for your pet's first aid kit. Put the items in a toolbox or another case and make sure they are easy to get to.

  • Latex gloves 
  • Cotton swabs or cotton balls
  • Antiseptic lotion, powder, or spray
  • Hand sanitizer or wipes 
  • Instant hot and cold packs 
  • Alcohol swabs
  • Penlight or flashlight 
  • Nonstick and waterproof adhesive tape to secure bandages 
  • Grease-cutting dish soap
  • Tweezers 
  • Sterile gauze pads and bandages 
  • Hydrocortisone cream 3%
  • Blunt-tipped scissors or razor for cutting hair and bandages 
  • Splints and tongue depressors 
  • Styptic liquid to stop minor bleeding
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Blanket, muzzle, carrier, or leash to secure your pet
  • Rectal thermometer
  • Copy of rabies vaccination
  • Water in case of dehydration 
  • Lubricating jelly 
  • Copy of medical records
  • Turkey baster, rubber bulb syringe, or dosing 

Basic Animal First Aid

These are first-aid tips for cats and dogs you can do before bringing them to the vet.

  • To ensure safety, please muzzle your pet. Even the nicest pets can bite when they're hurt, so it's best to be careful when doing so. If you don't have a muzzle handy, ask your vet how to tie one with gauze.
  • Press a clean, thick pad of gauze over any cuts or scrapes, and keep your hand on the wound until the blood starts to clot. Keep the pressure on for at least three minutes before checking to see if the blood is indeed clotting.
  • Keep the pet as quiet and warm as you can.
  • If you suspect that the pet has broken bones, find a flat surface, like a board or stretcher, that you can use to move the pet from place to place. Tie the pet to the surface with a blanket or towel.
  • Remember that any first aid you give your pet should be followed by veterinary care right away. First aid care is not the same as veterinary care, but it could save your pet's life until it can see a vet.
  • Some animal hospitals that treat emergencies have ambulances. Call your vet to find out how to move an injured animal based on your specific situation.

CPR For Cats and Dogs

It is scary to think you might need to perform CPR on your pet, but it can happen. The same CPR is used for dogs and cats as it is for people. These directions are based on whether or not the dog or cat is unconscious and that you will not be bit.

  1. Remove any obstacles. Open the animal's mouth and make sure it can breathe. If that is not the case, remove the obstruction blocking the airway.
  2. Extend the head and give the dog or cat a few fake breaths.
    • For dogs of large size, close the dog's mouth tightly and breathe into their nose. The dog's chest should raise. Give 2 breaths at a time
    • You may be able to cover the nose and mouth of small dogs and cats with your mouth while you breathe. The chest of the animal should rise. Take two deep breaths.
  3. Do chest compressions
    • Large dogs can be placed on their backs and their chests compressed in the same way that humans do.
    • For small dogs and cats, as well as large dogs with funnel chests, you may need to lay the animal on its side and compress the side of the rib cage for them. You can also turn the animal on its back and press both sides of the rib cage. Chest compressions are done at different rates depending on the size of the cat or dog.
      • Dogs over 60 pounds: 60 compressions per minute.
      • Animals between 11 and 60 pounds: 80-100 compressions per minute
      • Animals 10 pounds or less: 120 compressions per minute.
  4. Alter your breaths with compressions. The compression-to-breath ratio should be similar to that of humans - 30:2. Repeat until the animal responds or begins to breathe on its own.

If you're curious about how to respond to an emergency, contact our Danbury vets. We're happy to give you emergency preparedness tips so that you can help your dog or cat should the need arise.