First Aid for Pets


Check your dog’s mucus membrane colour (gums, inside cheeks). They should be light pink, moist and when pressed on return to their original colour in less then 2 seconds. If they are pale, white, blue or yellow and do not return to that colour within 2 secs then veterinary attention is required

Vital Statistics: Pulse and Heart Rate
Normal resting rates: 

Small dogs: 90-120 bpm 
Medium dogs: 70-110 bpm 
Large dogs: 60-90 bpm 
Pulse should be strong, regular and easy to locate.

Checking the pulse
The easiest place to locate a pulse is the femoral artery in the groin area. Place your fingers on the inside of the hind leg and slide your hand upward until the back of your fingers touches the abdomen. Gently move your fingers back and forth on the inside of the hind leg until you feel the pulsing blood. Count the number of pulses in 15 seconds and multiply that number by 4. This will give you the beats per minute (bpm). 

Normal temp. for dogs: 100-102.5 degrees
Thermometer should be almost clean when removed.
Abnormalities are indicated by blood, diarrhoea, or black, tarry stool.

Basic First Aid Procedures
All of the following situations require immediate veterinary care:

For Fractures 
Muzzle animal. 
Gently lay animal on a board, wooden door, tarp, etc. padded with blankets. 
Secure animal to the support. 
Do not attempt to set the fracture. 
If a limb is broken, wrap the leg in cotton padding, then wrap with a magazine, rolled newspaper, towel or two sticks. Splint should extend one joint above the fracture and one joint below. Secure with tape. Make sure wrap does not constrict blood flow. 
If the spine, ribs, hip, etc. appears injured or broken, gently place the animal on the stretcher and immobilize it if possible.

If Bleeding (external) 
If an open wound is bleeding, the first priority is to control it. Before attempting to do anything, be sure the animal is properly restrained and, if necessary, apply a muzzle. To stop bleeding, apply direct pressure to the wound using a sterile or clean gauze sponge or cloth. When applying pressure, do not keep lifting the gauze to see if the bleeding has stopped. This only disrupts the clot that may have formed. Likewise, if blood soaks through the gauze, do not discard the soaked bandage since it contains important clotting factors. Instead, keep adding more bandage material on top of the soaked bandage. If possible, elevate the wound.

For severe bleeding, it may be necessary to apply direct pressure to the arteries that supply the affected area. These pressure points are located at the upper inside (armpit) of the front legs, the upper inside of the hind legs and the underside of the tail. The use of a tourniquet should be avoided. However, if a tourniquet is to be used, it must be used only as a last resort and then only if it is loosened every few minutes to restore blood circulation.

Muzzle animal. 
Press thick gauze pad over wound. Hold firmly until clotting occurs. 
If bleeding is severe, apply a tourniquet between the wound and the heart. 
Loosen tourniquet for 20 seconds every 15-20 minutes. 
A tourniquet is dangerous and should only be used in life-threatening haemorrhaging of a limb. It may result in amputation or disability of the limb.

If Bleeding (internal) 
Symptoms: bleeding from nose, mouth, rectum; coughing blood; blood in urine; pale gums; collapse; rapid or weak pulse. 
Keep animal as warm and quiet as possible.

Muzzle animal. 
Flush immediately with large quantities of cold water.
Muzzle animal. 
Quickly apply ice water compresses. 
Treat for shock if necessary. 
Symptoms: weak pulse; shallow breathing; nervousness; dazed appearance. 
Often accompanies severe injury or extreme fright. 
Keep animal restrained, quiet and warm. 
If unconscious, keep head level with rest of body. 

Restraint Methods
If your animal is injured, you must restrain him/her for your safety as well as your pet's. Muzzle your pet to restrain it unless it is unconscious, has difficulty breathing or has a mouth injury.

Dogs - Muzzles 
Speak and move calmly and quietly. 
Have someone restrain the dog with a leash. 
Approach dog from the side and behind its head; do not attempt to put muzzle on from the front. 
Quickly slip a nylon or wire cage muzzle over nose, secure snugly behind ears. 
If a muzzle is not available, you can make one from a strip of gauze, rag, necktie, belt or rope about 3 feet long. 
Make a large loop in the centre. Quickly slip loop over dog's nose. 
Bring ends under chin. Tie snugly behind ears.

Prevent wound contamination 
A clean, protective dressing should be applied to open wounds whenever possible to prevent infection and contamination. Never use cotton batting directly on an open wound, since the fibres will contaminate the wound. 

If the wound is minor and superficial, gently cleanse it with ordinary soap and water. Try to clip back the hairs with a pair of scissors, being careful not to cut the skin accidentally. Apply an antiseptic or antibiotic ointment, followed by a snug dressing. Be careful not to restrict the circulation by making the bandage too tight. If a wound is major and deep, do not probe or clean it, but simply apply a dressing and contact your veterinarian. As a rule, cats and dogs do not require tetanus shots.

For bite wounds, clip back the hairs away from the puncture sites with scissors and then thoroughly wash the wound with copious amounts of soap and water. Three per cent hydrogen peroxide may also be used after washing.

It is wise to have all bite wounds examined by a veterinarian, no matter how minor they appear. Very often, there may be more extensive damage to the tissues under the skin that is not immediately evident. Most, if not all, pets with open wounds and bite wounds also require antibiotics to prevent infection.

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Vomiting - can be caused by parasites, infectious diseases, foreign bodies, tumours, inflammation. The most common reason is "dietary indiscretion". If the vomiting is occasional and the dog is acting okay, try no food for 24 hours and only small amounts of water at a time or an ice cube. You can also give Kaopectate (* see below), or Pepto-Bismol at 1 Tbsp/30 lbs 3-4 times. If the vomiting continues, see your vet.

Diarrhoea - can be caused by all of the above. It's best to check a faecal sample for parasites first. If there is no vomiting, try a bland diet of broiled or boiled hamburger or chicken and rice for a few days. You can also use Kaopectate (* see below), Pepto-Bismol, and on large dogs, Imodium (2mg/60-80lbs) (* see below). If there is vomiting or blood in the stool, it's better to have the dog checked.

To induce vomiting - only if the material swallowed is not caustic or sharp (i.e. tennis ball, chocolate) and if swallowed within a half hour. Hydrogen peroxide orally to effect - approximately 1/4 to 1/2 cup depending on size of dog.

Don't give aspirin to a bleeding animal. Discontinue aspirin 3-4 days prior to any surgery. Aspirin thins the blood and interferes with clotting. Never use any anti-inflammatory on cats.

Arterial - spurts, bright red. Pressure bandage or tourniquet. If tourniquet, release for 1 minute in every 10 and pad nerve points (elbow, knee). See vet immediately.
Venous - flows or seeps, darker red. Pressure bandage.
Surface bleeding - pressure pads
Cut pads - bandage. If deep, need sutures within 24 hours.
Broken/torn toenail - clip off broken piece, Kwik Stop, bandage.

Prevent severe cuts from bleeding
Keep sanitary napkins in your pet's first aid kit, along with Vetwrap. For a severe cut (you can see bone, for example) apply pressure with the absorbent side of the napkin, then wrap with Vetwrap. The Vetwrap is a bandage that only sticks to itself, not to the fur! Be careful not to wrap too tight and cut off circulation.

Never induce vomiting with Ipecac, it can be potentially deadly to some animals (dogs and cats alike). Use a salt ball instead. Grab a palm full of salt and a little water and condense it into a ball, then put it in the back of the dog's throat.

WARNING! Those of you who use Kaopectate to control diarrhoea, especially in cats, need to be aware of the recent formula change. Due to concerns regarding lead levels in the old formulation the manufacturer of Kaopectate have changed the active ingredient to bismuth subsalicylate. Salicylates (e.g. aspirin, pepto bismol and now kaopectate) should only be administered to cats under veterinary supervision. Some dogs are also sensitive to salicylates.

WARNING! A word of caution using Imodium...if there is any vomiting, no diarrhoea, or the pet is acting sick, not just having the squirts, be careful using this drug. Imodium acts by slowing to stopping the movement of the gut. If there are a lot of toxins from bacteria or spoiled foods, then this material sits in the intestines and is more likely to enter the bloodstream and make your dog sicker. If there is no diarrhoea, just vomiting, you may actually constipate your pet. But if you are travelling or at home, and your pet develops diarrhoea and still feels fine, this is a wonderful thing to have on hand.

WARNING! Never give your cat Aspirin or Acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol). They are extremely toxic to cats. Avoid giving Ibuprofen to dogs, as it can cause kidney failure.

Dog Bandaged



You may have some or all of these products in your home and not even be aware they could cause problems for your family pet. Symptoms could be just a skin or eye irritation or a possible fatal reaction if taken internally. Usually if the product label has a warning on it, then it is probably in some way also toxic to your dog. 

The following list will name the household product, include possible symptoms if exposed and basic first aid. Always contact your veterinarian if you suspect your dog has come in contact with one of these products. 

- Vomiting, diarrhoea, depression, weak pulse, shock 
- Induce vomiting, give baking soda in water orally. 

- Vomiting blood, abdominal pain, skin blisters and burns 
- Wash skin with water and vinegar, give diluted water and vinegar orally or 3 egg whites. 

- Vomiting, coma, kidney failure, death 
- Induce vomiting, administer 1 oz of vodka orally followed by water (can be repeated). 

- Burns of skin and mouth, vomiting 
- Induce vomiting, give 3 egg whites 

Charcoal Lighter 
- Vomiting, breathing distress, shock, coma or seizures 
- Induce vomiting, give laxatives 

Chocolate (all varieties) 
- Vomiting, diarrhoea, depression, heart arrhythmia, muscle twitching, seizures, coma from high levels of caffeine and theobromine. 
- Induce vomiting, give laxatives. Lethal does of 1/3 oz per pound. For dark chocolate, and 1 oz per pound for milk chocolate. 

- Vomiting 
- Induce vomiting 

- Vomiting 
- Induce vomiting, give 3 egg whites or milk orally, watch breathing. 

Furniture Polish 
- Vomiting, breathing distress, shock, coma or seizures 
- Induce vomiting, give laxatives. 

- Skin irritation, weakness, dementia, dilated pupils, vomiting, twitching. 
- Induce vomiting, give vegetable oil orally to block absorption, get into fresh air. 

- Vomiting, stomach ulceration, kidney failure 
- Induce vomiting, give laxatives, many need IV fluids 

Kerosene/Fuel Oil 
- Vomiting, breathing distress, shock, coma or seizures 
- Induce vomiting, give laxatives, give vegetable oil orally to block absorption. 

- Vomiting, diarrhoea, anaemia, neurologic symptoms, blindness, seizures, coma. 
- Induce vomiting, give laxatives, remove source of lead. 

- Skin irritant, burns 
- Wash skin with copious soap and water. 

- Vomiting blood, abdominal pain, skin blisters and burns 
- Wash skin with water and vinegar, give diluted water and vinegar orally or 3 egg whites 

Organophosphate Insecticides 
- Excess drooling, weakness, seizures, vomiting, dilated pupils 
- Wash off insecticide, administer atropine sulphate as the antidote 

Paint Thinner 
- Vomiting, breathing distress, shock, coma or seizures. 
- Induce vomiting, Give laxatives. 

Phenol Cleaners 
- Nausea, vomiting, shock, liver or kidney failure 
- Wash off skin, induce vomiting, give 3 egg whites or milk orally. 

Rat Poison 
- Excess bleeding, anaemia, cyanosis 
- Induce vomiting, requires vitamin K injections 

Rubbing Alcohol 
- Weakness, incoordination, blindness, coma, dilated pupils, vomiting and diarrhea 
- Induce vomiting, give baking soda in water to neutralize acidosis. 

- Dilated pupils, respiratory distress, rigid muscles, seizures and spasms 
with loud noises or stimulus, brown urine. 
- Induce vomiting, keep dog in a dark quiet room until taking him to the veterinarian. 

- Vomiting, diarrhoea, bloody urine, neurologic disorientation, coma, 
breathing distress. 
- Induce vomiting, give vegetable oil by mouth to block absorption, give laxatives. 

- Depression, fast heart rate, brown urine, anaemia. 
- Induce vomiting, give 500 mg vitamin C per 25 pounds, followed by baking soda in water. 

HOW TO INDUCE VOMITING: Give one tablespoon (for small and medium size dogs) or several tablespoons (for large and giant size dogs) of hydrogen peroxide orally.  Wait 15-20 minutes, and if they have not vomited, repeat, but give 1/2 the initial dose. 

Another remedy 1 teaspoon (for small and medium dogs) or 1 tablespoon (for large and giant dogs) of Ipecac syrup. Allow the dog to drink 1 cup of water as this will hasten the vomiting. Repeat as needed. 

HOW TO GIVE A LAXATIVE: Laxatives are used to quickly expel the plant material from the intestines. Mineral oil is safe and effective. Give 1 teaspoon for small dogs under 25 lbs, 1 tablespoon to medium size dogs, 25 - 50 lbs, And 2 tablespoons to large or giant dogs, 50 - 100 lbs. 

A good antiseptic/antifungal agent to carry is Condies Crystals. 
A small bottle of dry crystals makes many litres of antiseptic solution to use on wounds or for sterilisation of equipment. 
It helps with the many fungal infections that dogs get in the heat. 



Preparation H
Aids in the reduction of proud flesh and also encourages hair growth on wound sites.

Meat tenderiser
Moistened into a paste takes the sting out of bug bites and stinging nettles. 

For sores that won't heal - turpentine on a white cloth wrapped around the sore. 

Sugar and Iodine
Mix into a paste for use on scrapes and burns - the sugar keeps the flesh from dying and the Iodine fights the infection.
Carrying crystals makes a lot more sense than carrying large quantities of expensive antiseptic solutions. 

Sugar Water
For a blister or scrape make a poultice of sugar water mixed with some aloe (from the plant) and wrap in place over the wound.

Elizabethan Collar

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3M VetWrap
This is the elastic bandage that I always keep in my own First Aid Kit and Grooming Box. It sticks only to itself, not to hair or skin. Eliminates the need for pins, clips and adhesive tape. It is ideal to hold a dressing in place, or for use as a running bandage, leg wrap, tail wrap etc.



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