Basic pet first aid procedures


Emergency treatment and first aid shouldn't be used as a substitute for veterinary care but may save your pet's life before you can get into the veterinarian or emergency pet hospital.

Poisoning and Exposure to toxins

As a rule of thumb, any products harmful to humans are also harmful to our pets. This includes some cleaning products, poisons, and antifreeze, as well as many common food items. 

If your pet's skin or eyes are exposed to a toxic product (such as many cleaning products), refer to the product label for the instructions for exposure to the product; if the label instructs you to wash your hands with soap and water if you're exposed, then wash your pet's skin with soap and water (don't get any into its eyes, mouth or nose). If the label tells you to flush the skin or eyes with water, do this for your pet as soon as possible (if you can do it safely), and call a veterinarian immediately.

If you know your pet has consumed something that may be harmful, or if the animal is having seizures, losing consciousness, is unconscious or is having difficulty breathing, telephone your veterinarian, emergency veterinary clinic immediately. Be ready to provide the clinic or veterinarian with the symptoms your pet is displaying as well as all information about the product they were exposed to.


The most important thing to do if your pet is having a seizure is to assess the immediate physical area around your pet and remove any objects that may cause further harm during the seizure. Don't restrain your pet. Time the seizure and be ready to share that information with your veterinarian. As soon as the seizure has ended, keep your pet as warm as possible and in a quiet place and contact your veterinarian.


Gently lay your pet onto a flat surface for support and muzzle your pet so you aren't bitten. Use a stretcher (a board or other firm surface) and if possible secure your pet to the stretcher. Be careful not to put pressure on the injured area or on the pet's chest during transport to your veterinarian or emergency animal hospital.

External bleeding

If possible, muzzle your pet and then press a clean thick gauze pad over the wound, applying pressure until the blood clots. This can take several minutes. Severe bleeding can quickly be life-threatening so get your animal to a veterinarian immediately if there is significant bleeding.

Internal bleeding

If your pet displays bleeding from the nose, mouth, rectum; if coughing up blood or you notice blood in their urine; has pale gums, collapses or is weak with a rapid pulse, keep your pet as warm and quiet as possible and immediately transport to your veterinarian or emergency animal hospital.


Chemical burns should be flushed immediately with large quantities of water. Consult your veterinarian after flushing.  If your pet is burned by fire, hot water, or from contact with a very hot surface, quickly apply an ice water compress to the burned area and contact your veterinarian or emergency animal hospital.


If your pet has been injured or severely frightened, it could go into shock. Symptoms include a weakened pulse, shallow breathing, extreme nervousness or dazed eyes. If your pet displays these symptoms, keep it restrained, warm and quiet and transport them to the veterinarian or emergency animal hospital.


If your pet displays difficulty breathing, excessive pawing at the mouth makes choking sounds when breathing or has blue-tinged lips or tongue seek immediate veterinary or emergency care. 


Our pets can succumb to heatstroke very easily and must be treated very quickly to ensure the best chance of survival.  Never leave your pet in your car on warm days. The temperature inside the vehicle can rise quickly to dangerous levels.  If you aren't able to get your pet to an emergency animal hospital or your veterinarian quickly, move it to a shaded area out of direct sunlight. Place a cool wet towel around its neck and head, re-wetting it every few minutes as your animal cools down. If possible, pour water or use a hose to keep water running over the animal's body and use your hands to massage its legs and to move the water away as it cools down. Transport your pet to the veterinarian as quickly as possible.


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