We can take extra precautions to ensure we protect our pets the best we can, but sometimes accidents just happen. In this post, our vets in Los Angeles discuss what you should keep in an animal's basic first aid kit and how to perform pet first aid on your dog or cat.

Preparing Your Dog or Cat's First Aid Kit

Prepare your pet's first aid kit with these essential items from Washington Dog and Cat Hospital. Keep these items in your toolbox or another case so they are easily accessible. In the event of a pet emergency, you'll want to keep these items on hand at all times until you can get your pet int to see a veterinarian:

  • Antibiotic ointment 
  • Antiseptic lotion, spray, or powder 
  • Alcohol swabs 
  • Blanket, muzzle, carrier, or leash to secure your pet
  • Blunt-tipped scissors or razors for cutting hair and bandages 
  • Cotton swabs or cotton balls 
  • Copies of medical records
  • Copy of rabies vaccination 
  • Grease-cutting dish soap 
  • Hand sanitizer or wipes 
  • Hydrocortisone cream 3%
  • Instant hot and cold packs 
  • Lubricating jelly 
  • Nonstick and waterproof adhesive tape to secure bandages
  • Penlight or flashlight
  • Rectal thermometer 
  • Splints and tongue-depressors 
  • Sterile gauze pads and bandages
  • Styptic liquid to stop minor bleeding 
  • Tweezers
  • Turkey baster, rubber bulb syringe, or dosing 

Applying Basic Animal First Aid

Below are some basic first aid tips for pets like dogs and cats that you may need to use before bringing your pet to an emergency vet clinic.

  • 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.
  • If the situation is dire and every second counts, Washington Dog and Cat Hospital offers emergency care Monday through Saturday during regular clinic hours (8:00 am – 5:00 pm). Our caring team can help pets in most emergencies. Contact us to find out how to move an injured animal based on your specific situation.

What kind of situations require first aid?

Some common situations that require first aid for pets include choking, heatstroke, poisoning, and injuries such as cuts or burns. It is important to be prepared and knowledgeable in order to provide immediate care in these emergency situations.

How To Perform CPR On Cats & Dogs

It is scary thinking you might need to perform CPR on your pet, but it can happen. CPR for dogs and cats is virtually the same as CPR for people. These directions are designed to help if your dog or cat is unconscious and reduce the risk that you'll get bit if they awaken.

  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.

Whether or not your pet begins to breathe on its own, you should contact your veterinarian or the nearest emergency clinic and take them in. Any period of time without oxygen can cause damage. If your pet choked on a foreign object or food, you should still bring them in because their airway may have been injured in ways that are not visible.

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 your pet is ever experiencing an emergency, please contact our vets at Washington Dog and Cat Hospital immediately for treatment.