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Pet First Aid Guide: How to Give Pets First Aid

We can take extra precautions to ensure we protect our pets the best we can, but sometimes accidents just happen. In this post, our vets in  Houma and Raceland discuss what you should keep in a basic companion animal's first aid kit and how to perform pet first aid on your dog or cat.

Preparing Your Dog or Cat's First Aid Kit

To help you prepare in case your cat or dog is injured, our team at Marcello Veterinary Hospital has compiled a list of essential items for your pet's first aid kit. Keep these items in your toolbox or another case, and make sure they are easily accessible. In the event of a pet emergency, you'll want these items handy to use at all times, until you can get your pet in to see a veterinarian:

  • Antibiotic ointment 
  • Antiseptic lotion, spray, or powder 
  • Alcohol swabs 
  • Blanket, muzzle, carrier, or leash to secure your pet
  • Blunt-tipped scissors or razors for cutting hair and bandages 
  • Cotton swabs or cotton balls 
  • Copies of medical records
  • Copy of rabies vaccination 
  • Grease-cutting dish soap 
  • Hand sanitizer or wipes 
  • Hydrocortisone cream 3%
  • Instant hot and cold packs 
  • Lubricating jelly 
  • Nonstick and waterproof adhesive tape to secure bandages
  • Penlight or flashlight
  • Rectal thermometer 
  • Splints and tongue-depressors 
  • Sterile gauze pads and bandages
  • Styptic liquid to stop minor bleeding 
  • Tweezers
  • Turkey baster, rubber bulb syringe, or dosing 

Applying Basic Animal First Aid

Below are some basic first aid tips for pets like dogs and cats that you may need to use before bringing your pet to an emergency vet clinic.

  • To be safe, muzzle your pet. Even the nicest pets can bite when they're hurt, so it's best to be careful. Ask your vet in advance how to use gauze to tie a muzzle if you don't have a muzzle handy.
  • Press a clean, thick pad of gauze over any cuts or scrapes, and keep your hand on the wound until the blood starts to clot. Keep the pressure on for at least three minutes before checking to see if the blood is indeed clotting.
  • Keep the pet as quiet and warm as you can.
  • If you think the pet has broken bones, find a flat surface, like a board or stretcher, that you can move the pet on from place to place. Using a blanket or towel to tie the pet to the surface may also be a good idea.
  • Remember that any first aid you give your pet should be followed by veterinary care right away. First aid care is not the same as veterinary care, but it could save your pet's life until it can see a vet.
  • Marcello Veterinary Hospital offers emergency care on a limited basis during our regular clinic hours. Our caring team can help pets in most emergencies. Call your vet to find out how to move an injured animal based on your specific situation. Suppose your pet needs emergency or urgent care outside of our office hours. In that case, you may want to use your favorite search engine to look for emergency veterinary care in or near Houma and Raceland.

How To Perform CPR On Cats & Dogs

It is scary thinking you might need to perform CPR on your pet, but it can happen. CPR for dogs and cats is virtually the same as CPR for people. These directions are designed to help if your dog or cat is unconscious and reduce the risk that you'll get bit if they awaken.

  1. Remove any obstacles. Open the animal's mouth and make sure its air passage is clear. If not, remove the object blocking the airway.
  2. Extend the head and give the dog or cat a few fake breaths.
    • For large dogs, close the dog's mouth tightly and breathe into the nose. The dog's chest should raise. Give 2 breaths at a time
    • You may be able to cover the nose and mouth of small dogs and cats with your mouth while breathing. The chest of the animal should rise. Take two deep breaths.
  3. Do chest compressions
    • Large dogs may be able to be positioned on their backs and their chest compressed in the same way that humans do.
    • You may need to lay the animal on its side and compress the side of the rib cage for small dogs and cats, as well as large dogs with funnel chests. You can also turn the animal on its back and press on both sides of the rib cage.
    • The rate of chest compressions varies depending on the cat or dog's size.
      • Dogs over 60 pounds: 60 compressions per minute.
      • Animals between 11 and 60 pounds: 80 - 100 compressions per minute
      • Animals 10 pounds or less: 120 compressions per minute.
  4. Alter your breaths with compressions. The compression-to-breath ratio should be similar to that of humans - 30:2. Repeat until the animal responds or begins to breathe on its own.

Whether or not your pet begins to breathe on their own you should contact your vet or the nearest emergency vet and bring them in. Any amount of time without oxygen has the potential to cause damage. If your pet was choking on a foreign object or food you should also still bring them in as there may be damage to their airway that isn't visible.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you have more questions about pet first aid and what to do in case of emergency? Please contact our vets at Marcello Veterinary Hospital for advice.

New Patients Welcome

Marcello Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Louisiana companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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