Pet First Aid: How to Handle Common Emergencies

Be prepared for any emergency that may arise with your furry friend. From cuts and scrapes to more severe injuries, knowing how to administer basic first aid can make all the difference in your pet’s recovery. This guide will give you the essential knowledge and tools for basic pet first aid.

How to Spot Common Pet Emergencies

Pet owners need to recognize the signs of common pet emergencies. These can include choking, heat stroke, poisoning, trauma/wounds, and seizures. Knowing what to look for, and how to respond, can help you provide your pet with the necessary care and potentially save their life. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the signs of common pet emergencies and have a plan for handling them.

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures
  • Sudden loss of consciousness or paralysis
  • Severe bleeding
  • Choking
  • Inability to urinate or defecate

How to Create a Pet First Aid Kit

One of the essential steps in preparing for a pet emergency is having a well-stocked first aid kit. Your kit should include items such as:

  • Gauze
  • Adhesive tape
  • Bandages
  • Ace Bandages – 2 inch and 4 inch
  • Bandage scissors
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Tweezers
  • Thermometer
  • Muzzle that fits your pet
  • Nail trimmers
  • Bottle of sterile saline
  • Benadryl tablets (dose is 1 mg per pound)

You may also want to include items specific to your pet’s needs, such as medication. I also recommend that you know your pet’s weight. Keep your kit in an easily accessible location and ensure all family members know where it is and how to use its contents.

Basic First-Aid Techniques for Pets

Knowing basic first aid techniques for pets can be the difference between life and death in an emergency. Some standard methods include CPR, controlling bleeding and treating burns or wounds. It’s essential to familiarize yourself with these techniques and practice them before an emergency occurs. Consider taking a pet first aid class or consulting your veterinarian for guidance. Remember, in any trouble, it’s essential to stay calm and act quickly to ensure the safety and well-being of your furry friend.

The AVMA provides some quick links for various pet emergencies. Get familiar with each type of emergency and handling so you can act quickly.


Poisoning and exposure to toxins
Bleeding (external)
Bleeding (internal)
Pet is not breathing
Pet has no heartbeat

Know When to Seek Professional Help

While it’s important to know basic first aid techniques for pets, there are some situations where it’s best to seek professional help. If your pet is experiencing severe bleeding, difficulty breathing, seizures, or unconsciousness, it’s vital to seek immediate veterinary care. Additionally, if your pet has ingested a toxic substance or a human medication, or is showing signs of a severe illness, it’s essential to consult a veterinarian as soon as possible. Keep our office number and the number to an emergency vet in the College Station area in your phone.

How to Prevent Emergencies from Happening in the First Place

While accidents can happen, there are steps you can take to prevent emergencies from occurring in the first place. Ensure your pet is up to date on vaccinations and preventative medications, such as flea and tick prevention. Keep your home and yard free of potential hazards, such as toxic plants, sharp objects, and small objects your pet could swallow. 

Final Words

Knowing basic first aid for pets may save your pet’s life before you can get your pet to us for treatment. But it is not a substitute for veterinary care. If at any time your pet experiences any of the above emergency situations or you are unsure what is happening with your pet, please contact us or an emergency veterinarian for help.

Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Stay healthy!

Dr. Kim Stewart
College Hills Veterinary Hospital

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