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Sometimes our pets can find themselves in difficult situations, which can result in them getting hurt. Knowing basic first aid can help make your pet more comfortable before you can seek veterinary help. In emergency situations it could potentially save your pet’s life. In this blog we outline some of the most common injuries that require first aid and give practical advice on what to do if these situations occur.

Before administering any sort of first aid it is important to carefully assess the scenario and ensure that you are not putting yourself in danger. Injured animals can act unpredictably so it is essential to approach every situation with the upmost caution and care. We always recommend seeking advice from your vet immediately as they will be able to suggest the most appropriate course of action for your pets’ condition. Forewarning will also enable them to prepare staff and the surgery for your arrival, should that be necessary.

dog with bandage

What should I do if my pet gets stung?

If your pet is stung by a bee or wasp try and remove the sting using a scraping action. Squeezing can force poison into your pet. Once the sting has been removed bathe the area with water whilst keeping your pet calm and still. Cats and dogs are most likely to be stung on their paws or mouth. Stings to the mouth or throat area can be particularly hazardous as can interfere with their breathing. It is therefore essential to monitor your pet closely and call your vets for advice. Human antihistamine tablets can be fatal depending on ingredients and dose. Never administer your own medicine without consulting your vet first.

What should I do if my pet gets burnt?

Many of us have BBQ’s in the summer months, if your pet gets burnt hold the affected area under cold running water for a minimum of 10 minutes. This is most beneficial if it is done as soon as possible. For larger animals it may be easiest to do this in the shower or using a garden hose. Keep the rest of your pets’ body warm and do not apply any creams, ointments or butter, as this can lead to infection. Cover the wound with a cold compress such as a soaked flannel before making your way to your local vets. If you suspect your pet has experienced a chemical burn ensure they cannot lick the area.

What should I do if my pet is choking?

If your pet is struggling to breath and exhibiting signs of choking, it is essential to act quickly. If you can see the object in their throat try carefully to dislodge the item with your hands without pushing it down further. If you do not have immediate success do not waste too much time trying to remove the foreign object. Instead, take your pet to the vets as quickly as possible. In the event that you pet collapses carefully turn your pet on its side and apply quick and firm pressure behind the rib cage.

What should I do if my pet is bleeding?

Dogs and cats are inquisitive animals and can sometimes injure themselves whilst on walks or on items around the home. Whilst small scrapes and grazes will typically heal on their own, large open wounds will need medical attention. If your pet has cut themselves use a thick towel or non-adhesive dressing to stem the bleeding and elevate the wound above your pets’ heart if possible. Apply firm pressure and secure with a bandage. If blood soaks through add another dressing. Avoid using a tourniquet unless you have exhausted all possible options as these can cause serious damage if applied incorrectly.

What should I do if I think my pet has broken a bone?

If you suspect your pet has broken a bone it is important to seek veterinary advice immediately. Approach your pet slowly and gently as they are likely to be agitated, which could cause them to act in an uncharacteristic way. If possible, use a muzzle to ensure you don’t get hurt. Try not to touch the injured limb and avoid sudden movements. We would advise against fashioning a homemade splint as it can potentially cause further injury. When transporting your pet to your local vet practice try to make them as comfortable as possible, whilst remaining flat. Small animals can be transported in a box, however larger animals will require a makeshift stretcher such as a large blanket held in all four corners.

What should I do if my pet is having a seizure?

Watching your pet have a seizure can be a scary experience but it’s important to stay calm and take proactive measures to prevent them hurting themselves further. Remove furniture from the immediate vicinity and use cushions and pillows to protect your pet from larger items that cannot be easily moved. It is important not to restrain your pet or stroke them in any way, as touch provides stimulation which could prolong the episode. Likewise, noise and light can affect the seizures duration, so it’s always best to keep quiet and darken the room as much as possible. It may also be beneficial to remove other pets and children from the space to limit distractions. Always allow your pets fit to finish before transporting them to the vets and try wherever possible to time the seizure.

If you would like to find more about how to treat your pet in an emergency or hone your existing skills, there are a number of pet first aid courses across the country which may be of interest or simply contact Dave Cumber Vets.  Investing in good pet health insurance can also be a good idea, as you can never predict when your pet will need veterinary assistance and care.

Pet first aid box

We recommend having a dedicated pet first aid box stored in a Tupperware box that is easily accessible at home and on walks. Essential items that you should carry are: antiseptic wipes, tweezers, surgical tape, bandages, tweezers, blunt ended scissors and a towel.