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A Guide on Giving Pets First Aid

Pets tend to be full of energy and not necessarily the best at avoiding accidents. Today, our Elk Grove vets discuss first aid for pets and what to do if your pet gets into trouble. 

Pet First Aid

No pet owner likes to imagine their beloved cat or dog becoming injured and needing medical assistance. However, depending on your pet, their personality and a number of other factors, accidents can happen and your pet may need first aid. 

Our veterinary team at Bruceville Pet Hospital wants to help you prepare for times your pet may need emergency veterinary care, so we've compiled a list of essential items to keep stocked in your pet's first aid kit.

Having these on hand can help you stabilize your pet so you can transport them to your emergency vet in Elk Grove. 

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

How to Provide Animal First Aid

Before bringing your pet to your closest emergency pet hospital, you may need to perform some first aid measures to keep you and your pet safe and stabilize any injuries until they can be assessed and treated. These measures can include:

  • Because even the most docile pets can bite out of fear when they're hurt, it's best to be careful and muzzle them. Ask your vet in advance how to use gauze to create a makeshift muzzle if you don't have a muzzle handy. 
  • Press a clean, thick pad of gauze over any scrapes, cuts or similar open wounds, and keep your hand here until blood begins to clot. Apply pressure for at least three minutes before checking to see if the blood is starting to clot. 
  • Keep your pet as warm and as quiet as possible. 
  • If you think your pet may have fractured a bone, create a makeshift stretcher or use a board to move your pet into your vehicle and from your vehicle to the hospital. It may also be a good idea to use a blanket or towel to carefully tie your pet to the surface and keep them warm. 
  • 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.
  • Some vet's offices and emergency animal hospitals that treat emergencies have ambulances. Call your vet to find out how to move an injured animal based on your specific situation.

CPR For Cats and 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 based on if the dog or cat is unconscious and that you won't get bit.

  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.

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.

Curious about how to respond to a pet emergency? Contact our Elk Grove veterinarians today. We are happy to share emergency preparedness tips so you can help your dog or cat should the need arise. 

New Patients Welcome at Bruceville Pet Hospital

We are happily accepting new patients at our conveniently located Elk Grove veterinary clinic! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of companion animals. Reach out today to book your pet's first appointment.

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