Basic First Aid Highly Skilled & Compassionate Care Since 2006

Basic First Aid

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Accidents do happen and while most of the following situations will require veterinary assistance, there are things that you can do to stabilize your pet until professional help is available.


  • Arterial bleeding is an immediately life-threatening situation; arterial blood is bright red, bleeds in “spurts,” is difficult to stop, and requires immediate veterinary attention
  • For any type of bleeding, place a clean cloth or sterile gauze over the affected area
  • Apply direct pressure for at least 5 to 7 minutes to stop the bleeding

Do not apply a tourniquet unless absolutely necessary

Loss of consciousness:

  • In case of drowning, clear lungs of fluid: lift the animal’s hindquarters high over its head and firmly squeeze the chest until fluid stops draining
  • In case of electrical shock, DO NOT TOUCH the animal unless you are sure it is no longer in contact with the electricity source
  • In case of airway obstruction, attempt to remove the object; see Choking
  • If the animal is not breathing and has no pulse, begin CPR: Click Here to See How to Administer CPR


  • Gently pull the tongue forward and inspect the mouth and throat
  • If a foreign object is spotted, hold the mouth open and attempt to remove the object by hand or with tweezers or a pair of small pliers—take care not to push the object farther down the animal’s throat


  • Examine the vomit for blood or foreign objects
  • Gently press on the stomach to see if there is any abdominal pain
  • Withhold all food and water until a veterinarian has been consulted
  • If poisoning is suspected, bring a sample of the suspected poison—preferably in its original packaging—to the veterinarian

Abdominal pain, enlarged stomach, and unproductive vomiting are indicative of serious conditions; seek veterinarian assistance immediately. Heat Stroke:

  • Symptoms include:
  • heavy panting
  • difficulty breathing
  • tongue and mucous membranes appear bright red
  • thickened saliva
  • vomiting
  • rectal temperature of 104° to 110°F (40° to 43.3°C)
  • unsteady
  • diarrhea
  • collapse
  • seizures

Bring the animal to a cool or shaded area. Immediately bathe the animal with tepid water; NEVER USE COLD WATER. Monitor rectal temperature; when it drops to 103ºF, dry the animal. Continue to monitor the animal’s temperature and bring it to the hospital as soon as possible

Do not leave the animal unattended while soaking even if conscious. Do not allow the animal to become excessively chilled as this can cause life-threatening complications Limping:

  • Attempt to locate the injury through gentle inspection
  • Once located, examine the area for pain, heat, injury, and swelling
  • If a fracture is suspected, gently stabilize limb for transport; see Transporting an injured pet
  • Cover any wounds with a clean cloth; see Bleeding

Bee or Wasp Sting:

  • Bee stings are acidic and can be neutralized with baking soda
  • Wasp stings are alkaline and can be neutralized with vinegar or lemon juice
  • Apply a cold pack
  • Apply calamine or antihistamine cream to the sting area
  • In case of severe swelling or difficulty breathing, immediately bring the animal to the hospital

Cat & Dog

Basic Health Check Monitor your pet’s health daily by checking their eating habits, feces, and general attitude. Signs of a problem include not eating, not drinking, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing or difficulty breathing, lethargy, etc. The most important thing you can do is monitor your pet’s normal condition and check for signs that there is something wrong. If, for example, you have a dog who usually loves to play and he suddenly has no energy, this could be a sign of a problem. You can also check your pet’s TPR—Temperature, Pulse, Respiration. The normal TPR depends on the size and age of your pet. Normal TPR for Dogs:

  • Normal temperature: 100.5°— 102.8°F
  • Normal breathing rate: 10–30 breaths per minute
  • Normal heart rate: small dogs (< 30 lbs) 100–160 beats per minute (bpm); medium to large dogs (> 30 lbs) 60–100 bpm; puppies up to 1 year 120 – 160 bpm

Normal TPR for Cats:

  • Normal temperature: 100.5°– 102.5°F
  • Normal breathing rate: 20–30 breaths per minute
  • Normal heart rate: 160–220 bpm

How to check vital signs:

  • Use a rectal, thermometer; newer human digital thermometers are best; DO NOT USE an oral thermometer
  • Heart rate can be checked by placing a hand over the animal’s chest
  • Respiration can be measured by observing the flanks or by holding a wet finger in front of the nostrils
  • Make sure your pet is calm and resting in order to get normal rates. Measure both heart and respiration rate for 15 seconds, and then multiply by four to get the rate per minute

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