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Emergency Guide: How to Give Pets First Aid

Accidents can happen when we least expect them. Knowing the steps to take can help you manage the situation calmly. Our vets share a checklist of what to keep in a pet's first aid kit and what to do when you need to seek emergency veterinary care for your pet in Toledo.

What is first aid for pets?

First aid is the treatment that is given immediately following a medical emergency. The goal of first aid is to preserve the life of the animal, reduce any pain or discomfort and minimize any risk of long-term disability or disfigurement.

Preparing Your Dog or Cat's First Aid Kit

Whether you have a cat or dog, there are some basic items that you should keep stocked in your pet's first aid kit. Keep these items in your toolbox or another case, and make sure they are easily accessible. In the event of a pet emergency, you'll want these items handy to use at all times, until you can get your pet in to see a veterinarian:

  • Antibiotic ointment 
  • Antiseptic lotion, spray, or powder 
  • Alcohol swabs 
  • Blanket, 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 or rubber bulb syringe

What are the main principles of first aid for pets?

While urgent medical situations are fairly uncommon for pets, knowing how to manage the emergency can help. No matter what caused the situation, there are a few steps or principles that can help you quickly gain control. They are:

  • Keep calm. and assess the scene
  • Maintain the airway
  • Control any bleeding
  • Seek veterinary care

Applying Basic First Aid for Pets

Below are some basic first-aid tips that can be used for pets like dogs and cats. These can help you stabilize your pet before bringing them to an emergency vet clinic in Toledo.

  1. To be safe, you can ask a friend or family member to help you keep your pet calm. Even the nicest pets can bite when they're hurt, so it's best to be careful.
  2. 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.
  3. Keep the pet as quiet and warm as you can. You can loosely wrap them in blankets if they are cold.
  4. 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.
  5. After applying first aid you should bring your pet to the nearest emergency animal hospital. First aid care is not the same as veterinary care, but it could save your pet's life until it can see a vet.

Shoreland Animal Hospital offers emergency care on a limited basis during our regular clinic hours. Our caring team can help pets in most emergencies. Call our vets to find out how to move an injured animal based on your specific situation. In some cases, your pet may need emergency or urgent care outside of our office hours. In that case, you may want to use your favorite search engine to look for emergency veterinary care in or near Toledo.

How To Perform CPR On Cats & Dogs

Many pet parents don't even want to think about their pet ever needing CPR, but it's better to know it and not need it than to need it and not know it. 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

    • Large Dogs: Close the dog's mouth tightly and breathe into the nose. The dog's chest should raise. Give two breaths at a time
    • Cats & Small Dogs: 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. Find the appropriate placement for your hands

    • Deep-Chested Dogs: Place the heel of one hand over the widest part of the chest and place your other hand directly over the first hand.
    • Barrel-Chested Dogs: Place the dog on its back, place one hand over the widest part of the sternum, and place your other hand directly over the first hand. Lock your elbows and make sure your shoulders are directly above your hands.
    • Cats, Small Dogs & Deep-Chested Dogs: Place the heel of one of your hands directly over the pet’s heart and place your other hand directly over the first hand.
  4. Do chest compressions

    • Dogs weighing over 60 pounds: 60 compressions per minute.
    • Cats or dogs weighing between 11 and 60 pounds: 80 - 100 compressions per minute
    • Cats or dogs weighing 10 pounds or less: 120 compressions per minute.
  5. Alter your breaths with compressions

    • The compression-to-breath ratio should be similar to that of humans - 30:2. Repeat until your pet responds or begins to breathe on its own.

Whether or not your pet begins to breathe on their own you should contact your vet or the nearest animal emergency hospital in Toledo and bring them in. Any amount of time without oxygen has the potential to cause damage. If your pet was choking on a foreign object or food you should also still bring them in as there may be damage to their airway that isn't 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.

Is your pet experiencing a medical emergency? Please contact our vets at Shoreland Animal Hospital in Toledo right away. We are here to help.

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Shoreland Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our veterinary team is passionate about the health of Toledo pets and is looking forward to meeting you and your furry friend. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

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