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Pet First Aid: How to Give Pets First Aid

Most pets are balls of energy and may not be the best at avoiding accidents. Today, our Memphis veterinarians offer some tips on first aid for pets, and what to do if your pet ever finds themselves in trouble. 

If your cat or dog needs first aid, our vets at Animal Emergency Center want to help make sure you're prepared. So, we've compiled this list of essential items to include in your pet's first aid kit. Keep these items in a toolbox or another case and ensure they'll be easy to access. 

  • Tweezers 
  • Nonstick and waterproof adhesive tape to secure bandages 
  • Hand sanitizer or wipes 
  • Instant hot and cold packs 
  • Alcohol swabs
  • Penlight or flashlight 
  • Cotton swabs or cotton balls
  • Grease-cutting dish soap
  • Latex gloves 
  • Antiseptic lotion, powder, or spray
  • Sterile gauze pads and bandages 
  • Hydrocortisone cream 3%
  • Copy of medical records 
  • Lubricating jelly 
  • 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 
  • Splints and tongue depressors 
  • Blunt-tipped scissors or razor for cutting hair and bandages 
  • Turkey baster, rubber bulb syringe, or dosing 

Basic Animal First Aid

Are you experiencing a veterinary emergency with your pet? Here are some first aid tips for cats and dogs before bringing them to a veterinarian. 

  • Muzzle your pet to be safe. Even the most docile pets can bite when they are injured, so it's best to be cautious. Ask your veterinarian in advance to teach you how to use gauze to tie a muzzle if you don't have a muzzle handy. 
  • Press a clean, thick pad of gauze over any scrapes or cuts, and put your hand on the wound until the blood begins to clot. Keep the pressure on for at least three minutes before looking to see whether the blood is clotting. 
  • Keep your pet as quiet, warm and calm as you can. 
  • If you suspect your pet has fractured bones, find a flat surface such as a stretcher or board that you can place your pet on from place to place. You might also consider using a towel or blanket to tie your pet to a flat surface. 
  • Keep in mind that any first aid you provide for your pet should be followed by immediate veterinary care. While first aid care may save your pet's life until a vet can examine them, it is not the same as emergency veterinary care administered by a professional. 
  • Some animal hospitals that treat emergencies have ambulances, while others will ask you to transport your pet to the clinic. Call your vet to find out how to move your injured animal based on your specific situation. 
  • 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 & Dogs

It is scary thinking you might need to perform CPR on your pet, but it can happen. CPR for dogs and cats is virtually the same as CPR for people. These directions are based on if the dog or cat is unconscious and that you won't get bit.

  1. Remove any obstacles. Open the animal's mouth and make sure its air passage is clear. If not, remove the object blocking the airway.
  2. Extend the head and give the dog or cat a few fake breaths.
    • For large dogs, close the dog's mouth tightly and breathe into the 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 breathing. The chest of the animal should rise. Take two deep breaths.
  3. Do chest compressions
    • Large dogs may be able to be positioned on their backs and their chest compressed in the same way that humans do.
    • You may need to lay the animal on its side and compress the side of the rib cage for small dogs and cats, as well as large dogs with funnel chests. You can also turn the animal on its back and press on both sides of the rib cage.
    • The rate of chest compressions varies depending on the cat or dog's size.
      • 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.

Do you have questions about how to respond to a veterinary emergency? Contact Memphis vets for emergency preparedness tips so that you can help your dog or cat should the need arise.

Animal Emergency Center in Memphis

Comments About Our Care

  • "I have had to come to Animal Emergency Center under several circumstances and have always been impressed with the staff and the care they provide."
    - Shelby H.
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