Pets routinely experience emergency situations, and seeing your furry pal struck by a car, collapse, or seizuring can be a frightening experience. But, by staying calm in these situations and applying first aid care to your pet, you can stabilize their condition long enough to reach our hospital for urgent treatment. Keep in mind that you should never administer medications to your pet without veterinary supervision, because they can do more harm than good, so stick to providing basic first aid. Although every pet’s emergency situation is different, you can apply general first aid techniques to grant stability. If your pet experiences any of the following emergencies, tailor the first aid tips to their needs until you can reach our hospital.

How to perform first aid for a bleeding pet

External bleeding from a wound is a common injury in pets, while, fortunately, internal bleeding is much less common. For external bleeding, apply pressure to the wound with a thick pad of clean gauze or other material, and wait at least three minutes before checking for clotting. Control severe bleeding from a limb with a tourniquet and a pressure wrap while you transport your pet to our hospital, but loosen the tourniquet for 20 seconds every 15 to 20 minutes to prevent irreparable damage. 

Internal bleeding requires immediate veterinary care, because you cannot do much at home. Keep your pet warm and quiet during transport to our hospital if you notice bleeding from the mouth or nose, blood in the urine, pale gums, or collapse.

How to perform first aid for a seizuring pet

Be cautious when handling a pet who is having a seizure. Your pet probably won’t recognize you, and may bite out of fear. However, try to keep your pet from falling down stairs or off furniture by using pillows, blankets, and other barricades, but no physical restraint. Once the seizure has stopped, keep your pet quiet. 

How to perform first aid for a pet who has been poisoned

Pet poisoning cases can be difficult, since you may not always know which poison, how much, or when your furry pal got themselves into trouble. Before trying to make your pet vomit, contact an animal poison control helpline, like the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center. Their veterinary toxicologists will tell you exactly what to do, and provide a case number that we will use to treat your pet when you come to our hospital. 

If your pet has a toxin, such as a cleaning chemical, on their skin or in their eyes, follow the same directions on the label for humans. You’ll likely need to flush the area with water, or wash the toxin off with soap. 

How to perform first aid for a pet with a broken leg

Fractures may also be paired with internal or external bleeding if a pet has been in a fight or struck by a car, and you should focus on controlling the bleeding before attending to the fracture. Keep in mind that broken bones are extremely painful, and your normally gentle pet may bite, so muzzle them before they are moved or handled. Lay them on a sturdy, flat surface for transport, and, if possible, wrap them in a blanket to secure them to the makeshift stretcher, and to prevent unnecessary movement. While placing a splint may seem like a good idea, homemade splints often do more harm than good, because they’re usually placed improperly and can do more damage to the broken bone. When in doubt, leave splinting to the professionals.

How to perform first aid for a pet who has been burned

Like fractures, burns are incredibly painful, so muzzle your pet before treatment. For chemical burns, dilute the agent by flushing the area with large amounts of water. For fire burns, apply an ice water compress to the area. 

How to perform first aid for a choking pet

If your pet is pawing at their mouth and having difficulty breathing, they may be choking. Be careful when handling a choking pet, since they are panicked and may bite out of fear. If you can see the object causing the choking and can reach it easily and safely, try to remove it without pushing it further. However, if you cannot remove the object without a struggle, or your pet’s breathing worsens, keep your pet calm and immediately head to our hospital.

If you think your pet may be experiencing an emergency, don’t hesitate. Contact our AIMSS/AES team immediately for help. We’re here for you and your beloved pet every hour of every day.