PET FIRST AID
Brought to you by Dr. Scott Luckow
and the American Veterinary Medical Association
Any first aid administered to your pet should be followed by immediate veterinary care.
First aid care is not a substitute for veterinary care, but it may save your pet’s life
until he/she receives veterinary treatment.
FOR YOUR SAFETY
If your pet is injured, he/she is likely in pain, scared, and
confused. Be careful to avoid getting hurt, bitten
• Never assume that even the most gentle pet will not bite
or scratch if injured. Pain and fear can make animals
unpredictable or even dangerous.
• Don’t attempt to hug an injured pet, and always keep your face
away from its mouth. Although this may be your first impulse
to comfort your pet, it might only scare them more or cause
• Perform any examination slowly and gently. Stop if your pet
becomes more agitated.
• Drive carefully to the veterinary clinic. Panicked or
out-of-control driving puts you and your pet at risk.
IF YOUR PET IS CHOKING
Choking pets have difficulty breathing, paw excessively at their
mouths, make choking sounds when breathing or coughing, and
may have blue-tinged lips or tongue.
• If your pet can still breathe, keep him/her calm and seek
immediate veterinary care.
• Look into your pet’s mouth to see if a foreign object is visible.
If you see an object, gently try to remove it with pliers or
tweezers, but be careful not to push the object further down
the throat. If it’s not easy to reach—don’t delay; get your pet to
a veterinarian immediately.
If you can’t remove the object or your pet collapses, place both
hands on the side of your pet’s rib cage and apply firm quick
pressure, or lay your pet on his/her side and strike the rib
cage firmly with the palm of your hand 3-4 times to sharply
push air out of their lungs and push the object out from
behind. Repeat this until the object is dislodged or until you
arrive at the veterinarian’s office.
IF YOUR PET IS NOT BREATHING
• Open your pet’s airway by gently grasping its tongue and pulling it
forward (out of the mouth) until it is flat. Check the throat to see if
there are any foreign objects blocking the airway.
• Perform rescue breathing by holding your pet’s mouth closed with
your hand and breathing directly into its nose until you see the chest
expand. Once the chest expands, continue administering one rescue
breath every 4-5 seconds.
IF YOUR PET HAS NO HEARTBEAT
Do not begin chest compressions until you’ve secured an airway and
started rescue breathing.
• Gently lay your pet on its right side on a firm surface. The heart is
located on the left side in the lower half of the chest, just behind the
elbow of the front left leg. Place one hand underneath the pet’s chest
for support and the other hand over the heart.
• For dogs, press down with quick, firm pressure to depress the chest
one inch for medium-sized dogs. Use more force for larger animals
and less force for smaller animals.
• For cats and other small pets, cradle your hand around the animal’s
chest so your thumb is on the left side of the chest and your fingers
are on the right side of the chest, and compress the chest by
squeezing it between your thumb and fingers.
• Press down 80-120 times per minute for larger animals and 100-150
times per minute for smaller ones (less than 25 lbs).
• Alternate the chest compressions with the rescue breaths: perform
chest compressions for 4-5 seconds and stop long enough to give one
• Continue until you can hear a heartbeat and your pet is breathing
regularly, or you have arrived at the veterinary clinic and they can
take over the resuscitation attempts.
Please remember that your pet’s likelihood of surviving with
resuscitation is very low. However, in an emergency it may give your
pet his/her only chance.
IF YOUR PET IS POISONED
• If you know or suspect your pet has consumed something
that may be harmful, call your veterinarian, emergency
veterinary clinic or the Animal Poison Control Center
(888.426.4435 – available 365 days/year, 24 hours/day; a
consultation fee applies) immediately.
• If possible, have the following information available:
– Species, breed, age, sex, weight and number of animals
– Name/description of the substance that is in question; the
amount the animal was exposed to; and how long it’s been
since your pet ate it or was exposed to it.
– The product container/packaging available for reference.
• Collect any material your pet may have vomited or chewed,
and place it in a plastic sealable bag to take with you when
you bring your animal in for veterinary treatment.
• Do not try to induce vomiting or give any medication to
your pet unless directed to do so by Poison Control or your
IF YOUR PET IS HAVING SEIZURES
• Clear the area of other pets, furniture, and any other objects
that may cause injury. Do not try to restrain your pet or
startle him/her out of the seizure.
• Time the seizure (they usually last 2-3 minutes).
• After the seizure has stopped, keep your pet warm and quiet
and contact your veterinarian.
IF YOUR PET IS INJURED
• If possible and safe, try to stabilize injuries before moving an
injured animal by splinting or bandaging them. Keep in mind,
however, that a poorly applied bandage or splint can do more
harm than good; if in doubt, leave the bandaging/splinting to
• If there is a foreign body in the wound, do not remove it. If
necessary, carefully cut it short without moving it to leave
3-6 inches sticking out before transporting your pet to the
While transporting your injured pet, keep him/her confined
in a small area to reduce the risk of additional injury.
Pet carriers work well, or you can use a box or other
container (but make sure your pet has enough air).
For larger dogs, you can use a board, sled, blanket or
something similar to act as a stretcher.
• Call your veterinarian or an emergency veterinary
clinic so they can be ready for you when you arrive.
IF YOUR PET’S WOUND IS BLEEDING
• Apply direct pressure with a clean towel or cloth
for at least 3 minutes before checking to see if the
bleeding has stopped.
• Severe bleeding can quickly be life-threatening—get
your animal to a veterinarian immediately if this
occurs. Add towels on top of previous layers if they
are soaking through, but do not remove them as it
may disturb any clot formation.
IF YOUR PET IS BURNED
• Apply a muzzle and flush the burn with cool (not
cold) water. Seek immediate veterinary care.
IF YOUR PET HAS HEATSTROKE
• If you cannot immediately get your pet to a
veterinarian, move him/her to a shaded area and out
of direct sunlight.
• Place a cool or cold, wet towel around your pet’s
neck and head (do not cover your pet’s eyes, nose or
mouth). Remove the towel, wring it out, then re-wet
and re-wrap it every few minutes.
• Pour or use a hose to keep cool water running over
the animal’s body (especially the abdomen and
between the hind legs. Then, use your hands to
sweep the water away as it absorbs the body heat.
Transport the pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
IF YOUR PET IS BITTEN BY A SNAKE
• Assume the snake is poisonous and seek veterinary
attention immediately. Try to identify the snake if it
can be done without risk; do not attempt to capture
or kill the snake. Do not bring the snake into the
veterinarian’s office – a photograph will do.
PET FIRST AID KIT CHECKLIST
Keep a kit of basic first aid supplies for the pets in
your household. Many of the items in a family first
aid kit can be used for pets, too.
IMPORTANT PHONE NUMBERS (veterinarian,
emergency clinic, poison control, animal control,
A copy of your PET’S MEDICAL RECORD
DIGITAL FEVER THERMOMETER
to take your pet’s temperature
to prevent bites (DO NOT muzzle your
pet if he/she is vomiting)
SPARE LEASH AND COLLAR
GAUZE ROLL for wrapping wounds or muzzling
an injured animal
CLEAN TOWELS for restraining cats, cleaning or
NONSTICK BANDAGES OR STRIPS OF CLEAN
to control bleeding or protect wounds
SELF-ADHERING, NONSTICK TAPE for bandages
for securing bandages
EYE DROPPER (or large syringe without needle)
to give oral treatments or flush wounds
K-Y JELLY (or generic version) to protect
MILK OF MAGNESIA OR ACTIVATED CHARCOAL
to absorb poison (Use only if instructed to do so
by your veterinarian or a poison control center)
3% HYDROGEN PEROXIDE to induce vomiting
(Always contact your veterinarian or poison
control center before inducing vomiting; do not
use hydrogen peroxide on wounds.)
SALINE SOLUTION for cleansing wounds (Saline
sold for use with contact lenses works well for
LOCATION OF PET CARRIER (for cats and
MY PET’S EMERGENCY INFORMATION
Age (or year of birth)
Sex: M F Neutered/Spayed? Yes No
Broadway Animal Hospital
Dr. Scott Luckow
5664 Broadway, Bx,10463
Directions from home:
Check our Answering Machine for:
Westchester and NYC numbers
Directions from home:
Animal Poison Control Center: 888-426-4435
*there may be a fee for the call
Non-emergency police phone:
Non-emergency fire department phone:
Animal control phone:
For more information, visit:
Animal Poison Control Center