Pet First Aid Tricks 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 you stabilize your pet until you get to a veterinary hospital. Here's what to do in the event of one of these five common emergency situations.

First Aid Tricks

Pet First Aid Dog Chewing Bone

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Choking

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 needle-nose pliers 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.

If that doesn’t work, lay your pet on her side, and then place your hands at the very end of her rib cage. Push down and slightly forward, applying pressure in quick, firm strokes. If you can't dislodge the object, get to the vet immediately.

Pet First Aid Wild Mushrooms

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Poisoning

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, never induce vomiting. Many toxins are corrosive, and vomiting may damage the esophagus or cause choking.

Should your vet tell you to induce vomiting, she will provide you with a recommended dose of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, based on your dog’s weight. 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.

Pet First Aid Dog Bandage

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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 a clot forms. If there's an object penetrating the wound, like a stick, do not attempt to remove it.

If the wound is not bleeding, remove any debris you see and clean the area with sterile saline solution or clean water. (Remember to not use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, which can damage the tissue.) Apply clean gauze and wrap a bandage around it to keep the area clean and stop your cat or dog from licking it.

Pet First Aid Car Trauma

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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 suspect your pet has sustained a head injury, tilt the board so that your pet’s head is slightly above his body during transport. If you see any broken bones, do what you can to minimize excessive motion, but don't attempt to splint them. Once inside the car, cover your cat or dog with a blanket to help prevent shock.

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.

Pet First Aid Cat at Vet

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Seizures

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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