If your pet is choking or has been hit by a car, you cannot waste time panicking or researching how to administer pet first aid. Instead, brush up on our first aid tips for some of the most common pet emergencies. By being prepared in advance, and keeping a cool head, you can save your pet’s life by stabilizing their condition until you can reach our animal emergency hospital. 

First aid for a burned pet

Pets can be burned by campfires, grills, or candles, and suffer painful injuries. For fire burns, apply a cold-water compress to the affected area, after first muzzling your pet, as burns are incredibly painful and your pet may bite.

Pets can also receive chemical burns. Again, first muzzle your pet for your safety, and then dilute the irritating substance by flushing the area with large quantities of water. 

First aid for a pet hit by a car

Traumatic injuries, such as being struck by a car or from a dogfight, can result in internal conditions that won’t be spotted without veterinary diagnostic testing. If your pet has been in a traumatic accident, refrain from moving them too much. Broken bones, damaged organs, and other internal injuries may not be obvious, and too much movement can cause further damage. Apply a muzzle, gently move your pet onto a sturdy stretcher, such as a board covered in a blanket, and transport them to our emergency hospital. If your pet is bleeding, apply pressure with a thick gauze pad for at least three minutes to allow a clot to form. Avoid lifting the pad every few seconds to check for progress, as this will disturb the clot. 

First aid for a seizuring pet

Pets suffering from seizures are often unaware of their owners, and may bite if restrained or startled. Prevent your pet from injury by using thick blankets and furniture to barricade them from dangerous areas like stairs. Also, minimize sounds and bright lights to avoid further agitating your pet. Once their seizure has stopped, approach them cautiously until you know they recognize you as their family. During transport, keep your pet calm and quiet.

First aid for a poisoned pet

Poisoning in pets can be tricky, since owners are not always present when their pet ingests the toxin. Without knowing exactly which toxin and how much was eaten, and at what time, a prognosis can be difficult. However, plan for the worst if you discover a chewed rat poison container or bar of baking chocolate after returning home from a long day of work.

Before making your pet vomit, which is instinctive for most pet owners, contact an animal poison control helpline, such as the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center. Their expert team of veterinary toxicologists will give you the most accurate information about your pet’s toxicity, and the steps to follow. Make note of the case number the ASPCA provides so we can speak directly to their toxicologist about your pet’s treatment plan.

First aid for an overheated pet

Heatstroke is most common in flat-faced breeds, such as pugs and bulldogs, and can quickly prove fatal without rapid treatment. On a hot, sunny day, your heavily panting, drooling, staggering English bulldog may be suffering from heatstroke, and you should immediately take them indoors to cool off. For more serious cooling measures, place your pet in the bathtub and run cool water over their body, keeping their head above water if they lose consciousness. Avoid wrapping your pet in wet towels, as this will trap body heat. Put your pet in front of a fan for more rapid cooling through evaporation and circulation. Monitor your pet’s temperature throughout, and stop the cooling process once it reaches 102 degrees. Their core temperature will continue to cool on its own, and further measures can make your pet too cold.

Then, head to our emergency hospital. We’ll perform thorough diagnostic testing to check for hidden damage, although organ dysfunction may not show up for days after the incident.

Remember: First aid is not a substitute for professional veterinary care. If your pet experiences an emergency, never put a band-aid on a potentially life-threatening condition. Use our first aid tips to stabilize your pet, and then call our team to let us know you’re on your way to our animal emergency hospital.