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Pet First Aid Guide: How to Give Pets First Aid?

Pet First Aid Guide: How to Give Pets First Aid?

While we can do our best to avoid incidents, there is still a chance that accidents can happen, and it's always when we least expect it. In this post, our Crystal Lake vets share some tips for pet first aid, what to keep in your kit and when you should seek animal urgent care.

CASE Hospital wants to make sure you're ready if your dog or cat needs first aid. To help you do so our emergency vets have compiled a list of essentials for your at-home pet first aid kit.

  • 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 You Need to Know For Basic Animal First Aid

Here are some steps you can take for basic first aid before you can get your dog or cat to the vet for a professional evaluation and treatment:

  • 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.

Performing CPR on Dogs and Cats

One thing we may not think about often is the fact that there may come a time when you will need to perform CPR on your furry friend. CPR for dogs and cats is virtually the same as CPR for people. These directions are based on whether 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.
Once you have a moment to do so you should contact your nearest 24-hour vet or emergency animal hospital. Your pet will require a full examination and treatment even if your CPR attempts were successful.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you think that your pet may be in need of urgent or emergency care, contact our emergency vets in Crystal Lake. We're here for all of your veterinary emergency needs.

New Patients Welcome

Companion Animal Specialty and Emergency Hospital is accepting new patients! Our specialists and experienced emergency veterinarians are passionate about restoring good health to animal companions in Crystal Lake.

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