The Do’s and Don’ts of Pet First Aid
You would not want to further complicate your pet’s condition or do anything to interfere with tests or treatments recommended by your veterinarian. The following is a list of Do’s and Don’ts in regard to providing your pet with safe and effective first aid.
- Do find out which emergency facility your veterinarian recommends in the event an emergency occurs after hours (this may not necessarily be the closest facility)
- Do apply direct pressure with gauze and bandage material to a bleeding wound
- Do consult a veterinarian before giving any over the counter or prescription medication to your pet
- If your pet is unconscious, do watch and feel your pet’s ribcage for signs of breathing
- for pets that are not breathing, you may close their mouth and blow into their nose/mouth together to provide artificial respirations at a rate of 10-12 breaths per minute.
- if your pet responds and consciousness and breathing returns, veterinary care is still necessary
- Do block stairs and remove other hazards around a pet having a seizure
- Do take your large or giant breed dog directly to a veterinarian if you notice acute, tight abdominal swelling, often associated with unproductive vomiting/retching.
- Do take your pet to the veterinarian if you notice your pet straining to urinate without releasing urine
- Do prevent your pet from pawing or rubbing their eyes, if injured or uncomfortable, as this may cause further damage
- Do not risk injury by attempting to handle an aggressive or painful animal
- a belt or necktie can make a handy dog muzzle in a pinch when wrapped around the jaw and tied behind the neck
- Do not apply tight or constricting bandage material around limb
- Do not give over the counter fever medications without instruction from your veterinarian
- Fevers can be beneficial and are the body’s way to slow viral replication and kill harmful bacteria
- Without knowing the source of the fever (ie. a kidney infection) some common medications may do more harm than good (such as cause further organ damage) and may even be toxic (acetaminophen in cats)
- In the event of toxin ingestion, do not induce vomiting at home without instruction from your veterinarian
- Emetics such as salt water and Syrup of Ipecac can be toxic to animals
- Emetics such as hydrogen peroxide can be locally irritating to the stomach and can lead to protracted vomiting
- Some toxins can be more damaging if vomiting up
- In some patients (animals with laryngeal disease, heart disease), vomiting may be contraindicated
- If you suspect your pet is suffering from heatstroke, do not hose your pet down with water or submerge your pet in water
- instead, remove the pet from direct heat and place in front of a fan or in an air conditioned area or room
- encourage your pet to drink frequent, small amounts of water
- wet your pets paws with rubbing alcohol or water as a cooling method
- Do not attempt to stick your hand in the mouth of a chocking or seizing pet
- Do not disturb your dog or cat during the process of delivering puppies/kittens, unless clear signs of distress or complications are noted, including:
- unproductive contractions for longer than 20-30 minutes
- a pause of more than 2 hours in between delivery of puppies/kittens
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Veterinary Technical Services Department