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Pet First Aid

Pet First Aid Basics Every Owner Should Know

Would you know what to do if your cat started having a seizure or your dog got hit by a car? Just the thought of something happening to your pet is enough to get your heart racing. In any medical emergency, the best course of action is to bring your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible. If you're mentally prepared to respond to an accident, these key first-aid techniques can help stabilize your pet until you get to a veterinary hospital. Here's what to do in the event of one of these common emergency situations.


If your cat or dog is choking, but she can still breathe, keep her calm and get her to a vet as soon as possible. But if her tongue or gums are turning blue, and she’s in obvious distress, put your hand over the top of her muzzle and lift it up to open the mouth — but don't cover the nostrils. Use your fingers to attempt to remove an object that's clearly visible, but be careful not to force the object farther down into the throat. Use caution, because an animal in this situation may panic and bite. Try to keep your pet calm during transportation to a veterinarian.


If you believe your pet has eaten something toxic, call your vet or the ASPCA Pet Poison Hotline (888-426-4435) right away. Unless instructed to do so by a veterinarian, do not induce vomiting. Many toxins are corrosive, and vomiting may cause damage to the esophagus or cause choking. There are no safe and reliable at-home products that can be used to induce vomiting in cats, so always get your feline to a veterinary clinic for treatment. In either case, take your pet to the vet as soon as possible.

Cuts, Punctures or Bites

All punctures, bites and cuts have the potential to become infected, so they need to be checked out by a vet. If your pet is bleeding profusely, cover the area with sterile gauze and a clean towel, and then apply direct pressure until the bleeding stops or your veterinarian takes over. If there's an object penetrating the wound, like a stick, do not attempt to remove it- this can cause further uncontrolled bleeding and should be evaluated by your veterinarian. If the wound is not bleeding, keep the area clean and apply clean gauze and wrap a bandage around it to keep the area to keep clean and stop your cat or dog from licking it.

Car Trauma

If your pet gets hit by a car, lay him on a flat board and strap him down to help prevent movement. Make sure you don't put pressure on his chest, which can hinder breathing. If you see any broken bones, do what you can to minimize excessive motion, but don't attempt to bandage them. Once inside the car, cover your cat or dog with a blanket to help prevent shock and hypothermia. After any car trauma — even if your pet does not appear to be injured — it’s still critical you have a vet examine him. Many animals suffer internal injuries that are not obvious, and they may be very serious if not given immediate veterinary attention.


If your cat or dog has a seizure, move furniture and other objects out of the way to help prevent further injury. Do not attempt to restrain your pet and keep your hands away from her mouth — pets will not swallow their tongues, but chances are you they will bite you. Most seizures won't last more than five minutes. Regardless of how long the seizure lasts, your pet needs to see a veterinarian immediately.


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