Basic Small Animal First Aid

Bites and fight wounds:

–       Clean wounds with warm water

–       Cover to protect from further contamination

–       Seek veterinary attention if bleeding is persistent, wounds involving the head (eyes, ears, nose, throat), penetrating injuries to the chest, abdomen or groin.


–       If blood “spurting”, pooling, or soaking bandage seek veterinary attention.  Meanwhile:

  • Cover with clean absorbent compress (cotton pad) and apply direct pressure or bandage firmly in place.
  • If severe bleeding from a limb, apply a tourniquet above the wound just tight enough to staunch the flow.  *Loosen it after 20 minutes.

Bloat (“GDV”):

–       Dog has a bulge behind the rib cage, has tried (unsuccessfully) to vomit several times, stomach is swollen and dog may collapse.

–       Requires immediate veterinary attention!

Breathing difficulties:

–       If “open-mouth-breathing” (esp. cats) and appears in distress, get to a veterinary clinic without delay!

Burns and scalds:

–       Cool area with cold water or cover with wet towels.

–       If a chemical burn, run cool water over burn for 15 minutes.

–       If skin sloughs, cover with cleanest material available.

–       In all cases contact your veterinarian.


–       Most will last under 2 minutes

–       Keep hands away from the mouth, move away from stairs, and provide padding between thrashing limbs and floor.

–       If suspect blood sugar is too low (young puppy, diabetic) rub syrup on the gums.

–       If last longer than 5 minutes or multiple seizures in rapid succession, your pet requires immediate veterinary attention.

–       If not prolonged, contact your vet and book appointment at earliest convenience.

Persistent vomiting or diarrhea:

–       Can be sign of poisoning, intestinal blockage, or infection.

–       Contact your veterinarian if you notice blood in the stool/vomit, if it persists for longer than 6-12 hours, or if your pet becomes weak.

–       Consult your veterinarian before giving human medications.

–       Do not force your pet to eat or drink as this may exacerbate the problem.

Eye injuries:

–       Can potentially cause blindness or rupture the eye if left untreated.

–       Very painful.

–       STOP them from rubbing their face or scratching the eye.

–       If the eye has popped out of the socket, keep it moist with contact lens solution (saline) get to the vet immediately.

–       If there is green/yellow discharge from the eye and you can’t get into the vet right away, Polysporin eye/ear drops can be used (BUT they sting!).  Make an appointment at your earliest convenience.

Heat stroke:

–       Usually caused by leaving your dog in the car, or in some cats falling asleep while sunning themselves.

–       Signs: excessing panting, weakness, and distress progressing quickly to collapse and unconsciousness.

–       Cool down either by submersing in a tub of lukewarm water or applying wet towels to legs/body.  AVOID using ice or ice/water as this can cool them too quickly.

–       Offer water as soon as stable.

–       Take to the vet ASAP.


–       Call your vet or a pet poison control hotline (1-888-426-4435 ASPCA poison control: 65$ consult fee)

–       Check label for first aid instructions.

–       DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING if a petroleum product, cleaning solution, or strong acid/base was ingested.

–       If within 3 hours, can induce vomiting by giving 0.25-0.5ml/kg by mouth and repeated in 5-15min if not successful.

–       If going in to the vet is recommended, bring toxin packaging if possible.


***It is important that you bring your pet for a veterinary examination as soon as possible after an emergency/accident, even if it appears to have fully recovered.***