• Julie Gajewski, CPPS

Basic Pet First Aid

First Aid is not a substitute for care from a licensed veterinarian, but knowing what to do if your pet experiences an emergency could save your pet's life. Before administering first aid to your pet, please be sure to keep your safety in mind. Even the sweetest of pets can become agitated and bite when sick or injured. Always keep your face away from their mouth and never attempt to hug an injured pet!


Bones fractures are extremely painful. Before handling your pet or moving them, it maybe best to use a muzzle to prevent your pet from accidentally biting you. Place your pet on a flat surface. Be gentle as to not cause further injury or pain. It is best to not attempt to splint the fracture as a bad splint can cause more harm than it could do good. Call your veterinarian or local emergency clinic to alert them that you are on your way. Remember when transporting your pet, be sure us a stretcher or similar type board to move the pet. Even a blanket made into a sling will work. Secure your pet to the stretcher by simply laying a blanket over them. Do not place pressure on the fractured bone or on the pet’s chest. Remember, keep calm and drive safely to the veterinarian for care.

Toxins or Poisons

If you suspect your pet has ingested a toxin or has been poisoned immediately call your veterinarian, local emergency clinic or the Animal Poison Control Center. The Animal Poison Control center is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. There is a consultation fee for the call. Their phone number is (888) 426-4435. Be sure to collect the items your pet ingested in a bag and take them with you to the veterinary clinic. This will assist them in treating your pet. If you cannot take the substance with you, take note of the name and ingredients. It is important to not induce vomiting unless you have been directed to do so by a veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center.


If your pet is choking they will paw at their mouth, have difficulty breathing, start coughing, or may have blue lips and/or tongue. If your pet’s airway is only partially obstructed and they can still breath, call your veterinarian and let them know you are on your way. Then proceed calmly to the clinic. During transportation is it important to keep your pet calm. If your pet is unable to breathe and has a full airway obstruction, removing the object will be necessary. First, open your pet's mouth and look inside. If you can locate the object, try to carefully remove it using your fingers, tweezers, or pliers. It is important that you do not lodge the object further down your pet’s throat. If you are unable to successfully remove the object, transport your pet immediately to the closest veterinary clinic.


If your pet is having a seizure it is important to keep the area around them clear of furniture and objects that they may injure themselves on. Refrain from holding your pet down or from trying to get them to stop seizing. Timing the seizure will help your veterinarian later. Most seizures last 2-3 minutes. After the pet has stopped seizing, keep them calm, comfortable and warm. Call your veterinarian to alert them you are on your way. Take note if your pet has any additional seizure activity on the way to the veterinary office.

External Bleeding

If you notice your pet is bleeding, first apply a muzzle to your pet as lacerations and other open wounds can be very painful. Locate the area where the blood is originating from and with a clean towel press firmly on the area. You want to apply direct pressure to the wound for at least 3 minutes, then check to see of the bleeding has stopped. Do not remove the towel, as that can remove any blood clots that have formed and restart the bleeding. If the blood is soaking through the towel add additional layers of towels on top of the soaked through towels. Call your veterinarian to alert them you are on your way and drive safely to the clinic. Severe blood loss can be life-threatening, so immediate medical treatment by a veterinarian must be sought.


If your pet has suffered a burn first, extinguish any remaining flames. Then flush the area with large amounts of cool water or place cold compresses on the affected area. It is important to NOT break any blisters that have already formed. Loosely cover the burn and prepare your pet for transport. Do not place ointment or butter on the burn as they can cause an infection.

It is always a good idea to have the phone numbers of your veterinarian and local animal emergency clinic handy. Having a Pet First Aid Kit at home is also a good idea. The American Veterinary Medical Association has a great Pet First Aid Supplies Checklist on their website. You can find it by clicking here. Remember to stay calm and driving safely!

Written by Julie Gajewski. Julie has been pet sitting and working in the veterinary industry as both a Veterinary Technician and veterinary hospital administrator since 1997. She founded her pet sitting company, Fuzzy Friends Pet Care, at the young age of 16. She was nominated as one of Pet Sitters International’s Top 5 Pet Sitters in 2016 and is a Certified Professional Pet Sitter through Pet Sitters International. She is a pet business consultant and a guest blog writer for pet sitters across the world. She lives in Florida with her husband and furry children, 2 Pugs and 4 cats.

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