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02/03/2023 ---  A Paws for Pets

 “Pet First Aid”   by Susan Rodabaugh

Being prepared for an emergency with your cat or dog will given them the best chance to recover or even survive.  Because, at some time, your pet will require emergency care and  you may be unfortunate and not be near a veterinarian or animal hospital.  Also, having the right tools for the emergency situation can make responding less stressful.   This will also be beneficial if you come across and injured cat or dog.

  You can use an old duffle bag, sports bag  or backpack.

  • Make a list of emergency contact people.  Include your veterinarian and Animal Poison Control Center
  • A muzzle.  This would help you from getting bitten. Pets become fearful and threatened when injured.  You can also use gauze,  sock, rope, tie, medical wrap or leash if needed.
  • A leash.  Useful and handy for many reason in an emergency.  Tourniquet and broken bone support tool.
  • Gauze pads.  Used for cleaning wounds and applying pressure.
  • Clippers.  To cut hair off to get to the wounds better.
  • Scissors.  To cut hair, towels, bandages or anything else needed.
  • Tweezers.  Great for removing thorns, splinters, and items lodged in mouth.
  • Syringe without a needle.  For giving medicine or cleaning wounds.
  • Rubber gloves.  Protect your hands from anything chemical on your pet and your pet’s wounds.
  • Flexible Self Adhesive Medical Wrap.  Keep gauze pads in place and supports broken limbs without pulling out hair.
  • Blanket.  Keep pets warm and used as a stretcher.
  • Towels and non-stick wraps.  Stop bleeding, covers wounds and support for broken limbs.
  • Bottled water.  Cleans wounds, hydrates pet, cleans other tools.
  • Antiseptic.  Cleans wounds
  • Corn Starch.  Used on bleeding toenail.
  • Milk of magnesia/activated charcoal/table salt. Contact poison control and/or your veterinarian before you try to induce vomiting or treatment for poisoning.
  • Hydrogen peroxide (3%).  Contact poison control and/or your veterinarian before you try to induce vomiting or treatment for poisoning.

Your cat or dog requires first aid treatment if they:

  • Ingested toxic or poisonous substance. (some examples; rodent poison, chocolate, human medication, insecticide, plants, etc.):  Contact your vet or Animal Poison Control 888-426-4435.  Give them as much information about the hazardous substance. Signs fof ingesting poison may include lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, seizure, abnormal breathing and unconsciousness.
  • Chocking:  Your pet may be showing signs of coughing, gagging, difficulty breathing pawing at their mouth, and blue discoloration of the gums and tongue.  Look into the mouth, and remove the object carefully.  It you can’t remove it safely you may need to perform a dislodging maneuver and take your pet to the vet. 

In an attempt to do a dislodging maneuver on a pet: (see pictures in lower left corner)

  1.  Hold them upright with their back against your chest for smaller dogs and for larger dogs you may need to stank over them and lift them to your back.   
  2. Place your hand in a closed fist under their ribcage below the sternum with your thumb against the abdomen.
  3. Place your other hand on top of your fist. Perform five thrusts in an up toward thrust to their head to force the air out of the lungs.
  4. Sweep their mouth to see if the object was dislodged.  Repeat the maneuver until the object is free.

  • Burned: Pets commonly have burns caused by electrocution, chemical exposure, hot liquids or hot concrete. When burned, they will show signs of pain and discomfort in the form of whining or even limping.  The skin may appear red but intact(1st-degree), or there may be partial or complete loss of skin layers depending on the severity ( 2nd and 3rd)  DO NOT apply any creams or ointments to the burn area.  Cool the burn down with a gentle flow of cool water.  Cover the burns with clean dry gauze and take them to your veterinarian.   Sever electrical burn may cause your pets to go into shock
  • Shock:  This is the result from severe trauma.  Hit by a car, burned, fallen and broken something.  This is a result from not enough oxygen due to lack of blood flow to the internal organs.  It’s life threatening and immediate veterinarian attention is needed.  Signs of shock include pale and cool gums, rapid heart rate, shallow breathing weak pulse, low body temperature and dazed look.  You should have your pet lay down on their side with their head lower than the rest of their body, cover them with something to keep them warm, quiet and calm and use a stretcher to transport them and get them to  a vet.
  • Heatstroke:  Like humans, pets can overheat too.  The first step is to slowly cool your pet down with room temperature water.  Do not use ice or very cold water because it constricts the blood vessels too quickly.  Make sure the underbelly and inner parts of legs get thoroughly wet.  Once cooled, transport them to your vet.
  • Limb injury and fractures:  This includes injuries to a muscle, tendon, bone or  joint.  Place a muzzle on your pet if possible, Keep your pet calm.  Support the injured area with something sturdy (rolled up towel or magazine). Secure it with flexible adhesive wrap. Be careful it’s not too tight, you don’t want to restrict blood flow.  Cover your pet with a blanket and get them to your vet.
  • External Bleeding:  Scrapes. bites scratches and torn claws are common injuries that can cause bleeding.  Place a muzzle on them, if possible.  Look your pet over carefully to see where the wound(s) may be.  Flush with water or an antiseptic that is safe for pets.  Apply pressure to the wound with a clean cloth or gauze and antiseptic.  Secure with a non-stick flex wrap after bleeding stops.  For more moderate bleeding, continue applying addition bandages over the already soaked bandage and apply pressure to stop the bleeding. DO NOT remove the bloody bandages.  

Remember after any emergencies it is best to contact your vet for better assessment and overall treatment for your cat or dog.  I hope you will never have to use any of these first aid suggestions.  They will help make your pet more comfortable while in pain until you can get them to the vet.  It will definitely help your pet to recover more quickly.

York Adopt-A-Pet is a 501(c)3 non-profit animal sanctuary located in York Nebraska.  We serve as the primary care givers to the abused, lost and abandoned dogs and cats for our area.


The goal of York Adopt-A-Pet is to provide a safe and secure sanctuary for abused, lost and abandoned dogs and cats.

York Adopt-A-Pet operates with a small staff, dedicated volunteers and the love of furry friends we meet.

York Adopt-A-Pet Mission Statement:

  • To provide a safe haven for the dogs and cats placed in our custody.

  • To find the best homes for the dogs and cats that are our guests.

  • To educate the public on the need to treat our pets with dignity and love.

  • To reduce the pet overpopulation.

We are proud to be part of Bissell Partners for Pets