Pet First Aid 101: 5 Basic Emergency Procedures

Although first aid is not a replacement for going to your veterinarian, it can mean the difference between life or death for your pet. If you must administer first aid, always follow through immediately with veterinary care.

For Your Safety While Administering First Aid:

It’s always important to realize that your pet will likely be scared and confused if they are in pain or injured. Even with the gentlest of pets, you risk getting hurt, bitten or scratched. Pain and fear can make animals unpredictable.

  • Don’t attempt to hug an injured pet, and always keep your face away from its mouth. 
  • Perform any examination slowly and gently. Stop if your pet becomes more agitated.
  • Drive carefully to the veterinary clinic. Panicked or out-of-control driving puts you and your pet at risk.

If Your Pet is Choking

Choking pets have difficulty breathing, paw at their mouths, make choking sounds when breathing or coughing, and may have blue lips or tongue.

  • If your pet can still breathe, keep him/her calm and seek immediate vet care.
  • Look into your pet’s mouth to see if a foreign object is visible. If you see an object, gently try to remove it with pliers or tweezers, but be careful not to push the object further down the throat. If it’s not easy to reach—don’t delay; get your pet to a veterinarian immediately.
  • If you can’t remove the object or your pet collapses, lay your pet on his/her side and strike the rib cage firmly with the palm of your hand 3-4 times to sharply push air out of their lungs and push the object out from behind. Repeat this until the object is dislodged or until you arrive at the veterinarian’s office.

If Your Pet is Having Seizures

  • Clear the area of other pets, furniture, and any other objects that may cause injury. Do not try to restrain your pet or startle him/her out of the seizure.
  • Time the seizure (they usually last 2-3 minutes).
  • After the seizure has stopped, keep your pet warm and quiet and contact your veterinarian

Toxic Ingestion or Poison

  •  If you know or suspect your pet has consumed something that may be harmful, call your veterinarian, emergency veterinary clinic or the Animal Poison Control Center (888.426.4435 – available 365 days/year, 24 hours/day; a consultation fee applies) immediately.
  • Collect any material your pet may have vomited or chewed, and place it in a plastic bag to take with you when you bring your animal in for veterinary treatment.
  • Do not try to induce vomiting or give any medication to your pet  unless directed to do so by Poison Control or your veterinarian.
  • If possible, have the following information available:
  1. Species, breed, age, sex, weight and number of animals involved
  2. Symptoms
  3. Name/description of the substance that is in question; the amount the animal was exposed to; and how long it’s been since your pet ate it or was exposed to it.
  4. The product container/packaging available for reference.

If Your Pet is Bleeding

  • Apply direct pressure with a clean towel or cloth for at least 3 minutes before checking to see if the bleeding has stopped.
  • Severe bleeding can quickly be life-threatening—get your animal to a veterinarian immediately if this occurs. Add towels on top of previous layers if they are soaking through, but do not remove them as it may disturb any clot formation.

If Your Pet is Burned

  • Apply a muzzle and flush the burn with cool (not cold) water. Seek immediate veterinary care.

Consider This:

It’s hard to plan for every accident or illness, and sometimes you get blindsided by a huge veterinary bill. Avoid this by finding a good insurance plan for your pet! There are a number of good companies, as well as many different types of policies ranging from full-service to accident/illness. Please comment below if you’d like more information on the plans we have for our personal pets. You can also learn a bit more about financial options HERE

nose-to-tail pet insurance coverage with Embrace

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Pet First Aid 101: 5 Basic Emergency Procedures- Happy Paws Pet Blog

Thank you to the AVMA for helping us put this article together!

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  1. Deborah Clark says:

    Hello –

    You have a great website and newsletter. I enjoy the content you share.

    I have a question. Can articles found in your newsletters be shared on a pet sitter’s social media pages as long as the website and writer are disclosed along with the article?

    Thanks for your time.

    • You can most definitely share articles from the blog (i.e. the links straight from this site)! The only thing you can’t do is copy/paste content, regardless of whether the link/author is disclosed. If there’s an article you like, feel free to pass it along, and thank you! 🙂

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