Do you know pet first aid? If your kitty or pup has a wound or burn, would you know how to treat it? What if your pet had a seizure or started choking? If you’re skilled in pet first aid, being able to provide immediate care during your pet’s medical emergency – until you can get them to a veterinary clinic or animal emergency hospital – could help save their life. But what if you’re not familiar with pet first aid techniques, or need a refresher? We’ve put together a handy list of pet first aid tips and resources you need to know about to get you started:
Take a course
A great way to gain practical, hands-on experience is to take a pet first aid course. Companies such as Pet Tech offer group classes around the country that teach CPR, first aid and emergency care. They cover everything from primary assessment to rescue breathing, shock management, and more.
Or take a web-based video course. Dog safety expert, pet first aid instructor and author Melanie Monteiro offers a course based on her The Safe Dog Handbook.
Make or buy a pet first aid kit
Put a kit together yourself and stock it with emergency pet first aid supplies. Or buy one from your local pet store or Amazon.
If you make your own kit, you’ll need to buy lots of stuff! Gauze pads and rolls; cotton swabs; surgical tape; antiseptic wipes and ointment; sterile saline; ice and heat packs; tweezers; blunt scissors; rectal thermometer; non-latex disposable gloves, and more. You can download a complete list from the American Veterinarian Medical Association (AVMA) here. This free brochure also contains some basic first aid tips.
And in case you need to distract your pet while you do a quick exam or take care of an injury, include a supply of treats in your kit. Go for tasty and long-lasting chews such as these Buffalo Range All Natural Buffalo Rawhide Treats for dogs. But don’t give any treats to your pet if she’s ill and vomiting.
Watch online videos
Don’t have time to take a course or need immediate help? There are dozens of online videos offering how-to’s and advice, but make sure they’re hosted by a respected veterinarian or pet expert. These are our favorite dog and cat ones (though unfortunately they only have a couple of cat first aid videos) here and here.
Install an app on your phone
In a pet emergency, especially if you’re away from home, you need instant access to medical information. Install a pet first aid app such as this one from the American Red Cross on your phone and you’ll be prepared. The app includes step-by-step instructions, videos and images for more than 25 common first aid and emergency situations.
Buy a book
It’s a good idea to have at least one book about pet first aid in your home. We have The First Aid Companion for Dogs and Cats in ours. This comprehensive book includes simple remedies for common injuries and ailments, together with advanced methods for dealing with life-threatening problems. Plus lots of helpful how-to illustrations. Want to know bandaging techniques, how to make an Elizabethan collar or do the Heimlich maneuver? They’re all in this book.
Keep emergency phone numbers handy
These should include the phone numbers for your veterinary clinic, animal emergency hospital and the ASPCA poison control center.
And when a medical emergency happens…
Stay calm and don’t panic. We know that’s easier said than done. But. Take a few deep breaths. Assess the situation. Try to calm your pet. Use your first aid skills to keep your pet stable. Call your veterinarian or animal emergency hospital. (Don’t give your pet any medications without first consulting them first.) The vet will tell you the best way to transport your pet quickly and safely and they’ll prepare for your arrival. Then your pet’s care will be in their expert hands.