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Pet First Aid: How to Give Pets First Aid

Pets tend to be full of energy and not necessarily the best accident avoidance. In this post, our Memphis vets will discuss first aid for pets, and what to do if your pet ever gets into trouble.

PetVax Complete Care Centers 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 

What types of situations require first aid?

First aid for pets is necessary in various situations, such as when a pet is choking on an object, experiencing heat stroke, or suffering from a seizure. Additionally, injuries like cuts, burns, or broken bones may also require immediate first aid to prevent further complications and alleviate pain.

Furthermore, first aid for pets is crucial in cases of poisoning, allergic reactions, or sudden illness. It is important for pet owners to be able to recognize the signs of distress and provide appropriate care until professional help can be sought. Being prepared with knowledge of basic first aid techniques can make a significant difference in the outcome of an emergency situation involving a pet.

Basic Animal First Aid

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

  • To be safe, muzzle your pet. Even the nicest pets can bite when they're hurt, so it's best to be careful. Ask your vet in advance 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 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 think the pet has broken bones, find a flat surface, like a board or stretcher, that you can move the pet on from place to place. Using a blanket or towel to tie the pet to the surface may also be a good idea.
  • 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's frightening to think you could need to administer CPR on your pet, yet it happens. CPR for dogs and cats is nearly identical to CPR for humans. These instructions assume that the dog or cat is unconscious and that you will not 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.
    • For little dogs and cats, as well as huge dogs with funnel chests, you may need to lie the animal on its side and squeeze the side of the rib cage. Turn the animal on its back and apply pressure to 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.

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

New Patients Welcome

PetVax Complete Care Centers is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Memphis companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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