Pet First Aid and CPR

You never know when pet first aid will come in handy with one of your furry friends. We all love our babies and never want anything bad to happen but being prepared is always a good idea. Although, it doesn’t take the place of veterinary care, it could mean the difference between life or death for your furry critter until you can get it to your veterinarian. Below are some tips for First Aid, along with a list of materials to keep in a home kit.

Veterinarian gives pet cpr during training

First Aid Kit Contents
  • Leash
  • Muzzle
  • Digital Thermometer
  • Hydrogen Peroxide (3%) (in case you need to induce vomiting)
  • Eye Dropper
  • 3 or 6 ml syringes, 20 or 60 ml syringes (without needles)
  • Nonstick bandages
  • Gauze (non-stick gauze pads for bandages, absorbent gauze pads, gauze rolls)
  • Adhesive tape for bandages
  • Vet wrap (or ACE bandages)
  • Antiseptic wipes, powder, or spray
  • Non-latex disposable gloves
  • Tweezers
  • Cotton balls or swabs
  • A pet carrier (if you have a small dog or cat)
  • Scissors
  • Pet First Aid book
  • Phone numbers for your local vet and any emergency hospitals in the area
  • Petroleum Jelly
  • Benadryl® (good to have on hand, ask your vet the proper dose for your pet or pets)
  • Flashlight
  • A laminated card with all of your pets information
Handling an Injured Pet
  • Call your veterinarian or emergency vet immediately. They can give you any special instructions needed for the situation and can be prepared for your arrival.
  • Always be aware that any injured pet, even the gentlest ones, can lash out when they are in pain or frightened. Always take the proper precautions when handling an injured pet.
  • For dogs, keeping your hands and face away from their mouths. Muzzling an injured dog can be done with a muzzle that is properly sized, a towel, a strip of a t-shirt, or gauze rolls. Make sure the muzzle is tight enough to secure the mouth closed but not too tight. IF your pet is vomiting, DO NOT muzzle!
  • For cats and other small animals, you can wrap them in a towel to restrain them. Always make sure that they are not wrapped too tightly and the nose is uncovered to allow breathing.
  • When examining your pet always go slow and be gentle.
  • If needed or possible, try to stabilize your furry friend before moving them if they have a critical injury, broken leg, or hurt back.
  • Anytime you are transporting an injured pet, keep them confined to a small area. For small cats and animals, use a pet carrier to safely move them. For larger dogs, you can use a stretcher. If a stretcher is not available, use anything that will stabilize them but make sure they are strapped down to prevent any further injury.
Exposure to Toxins
  • There are many household items that are toxic to our furry friends. You can go to for a list of household toxins and other environmental toxins.
  • Signs of poisoning can vary depending on the toxin. Some signs include: vomiting, drooling or foaming at the mouth, seizures, unsteadiness, dilated pupils, and bleeding from the rectum, nose or mouth.
  • If you suspect your pet has ingested a toxin, call your veterinarian immediately. They can let you know what further steps to take.
  • If needed, you may have to induce vomiting at home and this can be done using Hydrogen Peroxide and a large syringe. ALWAYS call your veterinarian to determine whether inducing vomiting is indicated and they will inform you on how much hydrogen peroxide to use at that point. There are some chemicals and toxins that can cause more damage if vomited so this is why it is important to contact your veterinarian first.
  • If your furry baby has exposure to the skin and paws, wash them immediately in warm water with Dawn® dish detergent and call your veterinarian immediately!
  • If they have exposure to the eyes, flush them with water (if you can do this safely) and call your veterinarian immediately. Chemicals and toxins can cause serious damage to the eye and immediate medical attention is important!
Bleeding (Internally and Externally)
  • Call your vet or local emergency vet immediately in this situation as well!
  • As said before, make sure your pet is muzzled or properly restrained before attempting to evaluate any open wound to keep both you and him/her safe.
  • If actively bleeding, place a clean thick gauze or absorbent material (t-shirt, towel, blanket…) over the wound and apply pressure. Make sure the blood is clotting and if it is not, take note and notify your vet. This can take several minutes, do not check every few seconds, try to keep pressure for a minimum of 3 minutes, then check for clotting. If a bandage is needed to control bleeding during transport, ask your veterinarian how they recommend bandaging the wound.
  • Signs of internal bleeding are: bleeding from the nose, mouth, or rectum, coughing up blood, blood in urine, pale gums, weak and rapid pulse, and collapsing episodes. In this situation, keeping your pet as still as possible, quiet and warm is important and get them to your veterinarian immediately.
  • If there is a foreign object lodged in an open wound anywhere on your pet’s body, DO NOT remove it. Leave it and notify your vet immediately.

  • Choking is something that happens in animals as well as people. Often times small objects can get lodged in your furry babies throats and can be life threatening.
  • If your baby is having difficulty breathing, pawing at their mouths, making choking sounds when breathing or excessively coughing, check their gum color immediately! If the gums are blue this can indicate your pet is choking.
  • If they are still able to breath and seem to be getting enough oxygen, get them to your veterinarian immediately! You can always call your vet as well for guidance.
  • Always take caution when trying the clear the airway of a choking pet, the risk of being bitten is much higher due to the location your hand will have to go and the fact that your pet is more than likely frightened and panicking.
  • Having a flash light in your first aid kit is important in this type of emergency. If you are alone you may not be able to utilize it but if someone is with you, not only could they help your restrain, they can hold the light for you.
  • Gently open your pet’s mouth and look to see if you can see the object that maybe causing the blockage. If the object is easily retrievable and can be safely removed it is recommended to extract it. It is VERY important not to push the object further down the trachea. If the object is not retrievable, transport your furry baby to your veterinarian immediately.
Heat Stroke
  • Heat stroke can become very serious very quickly and is also deadly to our furry friends.
  • The normal rectal temperature for cats and dogs is 100-102°F. Anything above 102°F is dangerous and needs to be assessed by a vet immediately.
  • Signs of heatstroke include: skin that is hot to the touch, rapid panting, drooling, vomiting, loss of coordination, distress, collapse, and unconsciousness.
  • Remove your animal from the heat and call your vet immediately!
  • You can use cold water, ice packs, or wet towels to cool them off, but DO NOT immerse your pet in cold water!
  • Offer small amounts of water AFTER your pet has cooled down.
  • Get your pet to your vet IMMEDIATELY!
  • While rare in pets, hypothermia can occur when your pet’s rectal temperature drops below 100.5°F. This often occurs if a pet is gets lost or wanders away during colder weather or has an accident or injury that causes them to be stationary in cold temperatures.
  • Signs of hypothermia are: slow pulse, shallow breathing, disorientation, collapse, and unconsciousness.
  • Call your vet immediately if you suspect your pet is suffering from hypothermia and prepare to transport your pet to the clinic as soon as possible.

Your Pet is Not Breathing
  • If someone is available, have them call your vet while you begin to help your pet, if they are not available, begin to help your pet and then call them as soon as possible.
  • Check to see if your pet is conscious, if they are be aware that they may struggle and that you may need to properly restrain them to keep you and them safe.
  • Gently open your pet’s mouth, grasp the tongue and pull it forward until it is flat, opening the airway. Check to see if there is anything blocking the airway and if not, you can close your pet’s mouth and breath directly into its nose until you see their chest expand, once the chest expands, continue doing this once every 4 to 5 seconds.
  • Calling your vet and preparing to transport them is a top priority.
  • Being familiar with CPR for your pet is very important. Hopefully you never have to perform the procedure, but there is the chance that you will, and it could be the difference between life and death.
  • You can check your pet’s pulse on the femoral artery which can be done by placing your hand inside either back leg and applying pressure. This is a good thing to do anytime to become familiar with the area and how to locate the pulse. (Ask your veterinarian for a demonstration at your next appointment.)
  • If there is no pulse, gently lay your pet down on their right side on a firm surface. The heart is located in the lower half of the chest on the left side behind the elbow of the front left leg.
    • Lay your pet down on their right side with their back end elevated, make sure that their back is towards you.
    • Place one hand on each side of the chest directly over their heart. (You can bend your pet’s arm at the elbow and rotate it back at the shoulder-your hand should go where the elbow meets the body wall. This is approximately where the heart is.)
    • With both hands on the pet’s chest, begin compressing hard, this means using all of your strength to sufficiently stimulate the heart. Ribs can easily be broken during this process.
    • To keep a steady rhythm, it can help to hum the song, “Stayin Alive.” Your goal is 100-120 compressions per minute.
    • Always remember to stop periodically and check for breathing.
    • You can refer to the video, “ABC’s Of CPR” as well for further instruction.