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Pet First Aid: Do you know what to do?

Posted April 3, 2015

Are you prepared for a pet emergency? Most households have a first-aid kit for humans and a basic understanding of human first aid, but are not aware of what to do in pet emergencies. In Honor of American Red Cross Pet First Aid Awareness Month, we want to do our part in informing pet parents on what to do in pet emergencies.


  • Keep information about your pet’s medical history and your veterinarian’s phone number in an easily accessible place.
  • Find out where the nearest 24-hour veterinary hospital is located? Have this information posted, so that all household members are aware.
  • Request instruction on mouth-to-nose resuscitation, chest compression, and other first aid techniques from your veterinarian.
  • Keep a fully stocked dog or cat first aid kit.

Having a pet first aid kit is essential as you will be able to provide basic care at the scene of the emergency; however it is not a substitute for proper veterinary care. If your cat or dog is experiencing an emergency please take them to your regular veterinarian or emergency veterinary hospital as soon as possible. It’s also important to remember that any animal that is in pain may bite or scratch—be sure to take the appropriate actions to ensure your own safety.


  • Muzzle (never muzzle a dog with chest injuries or a dog with a short nose such as a Pug. Do not leave a muzzled dog alone.)
  • Gauze
  • Sterile pads
  • Stretch bandage
  • Bandaging tape
  • Small scissors
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Cotton balls or swabs
  • Antibiotic ointment (Our natural suggestion is NHV All Clear Ointment)
  • Chlorhexidine wash (0.5%)
  • Splinting materials
  • Tweezers
  • Disposable gloves
  • Antiseptic Spray (Our natural suggestion is NHV Rescue Spray)
  • Diarrhea/ Constipation medication (our natural suggestion is NHV Plantaeris for diarrhea and NHV Maris for constipation)


  • If appropriate use a muzzle (never muzzle a dog with chest injuries or a dog with a short nose such as a Pug. Do not leave a muzzled dog alone).
  • Place a light cloth or towel over your pet’s head. It will help calm your pet as the towel will help block out the stress of nearby noise and activity.
  • When transporting your cat or dog, minimize the motion of their head, neck, and spine. If you have a cat or a small dog, place them in their crate or as a second option place them in a box with large holes (big enough that you can see them)—this may help reduce stress.
  • If you have a large pet, use a flat, firm surface such as a large board, plywood, or ironing board; and very gently tie or tape the pet to the support structure to reduce movement and prevent further damage to the spine and nerves. If this is unavailable or if this causes your pet to struggle, use a thick blanket for support. Know what you have for a support structure ahead of time and try some gentle preparedness training with you dog.
  • Check with your veterinarian about the recommended transportation techniques for your specific pet ahead of time.


NOT BREATHING – Your pet may not be breathing, and mouth-to-nose resuscitation and chest compressions may need to be preformed. Instruction on mouth-to-nose resuscitation may be available in your area or provided at your local veterinary care facility.

A quick overview of mouth-to-nose resuscitation is when you close your pet’s mouth; place your lips over your pet’s nostrils and give 3 to 4 strong breaths. If your pet is still not breathing on their own, breathe for them 10-12 times per minute. If you cannot detect a heartbeat, perform 5 chest compression to 1 quick breath.

BLEEDING – If possible elevate the area of trauma. Apply pressure to the wound; apply a firm (not tight) bandage, washcloth, or towel. If the original bandage or towel becomes soaked with blood, do not remove it; place additional material on top and continue applying pressure.


Emergencies are stressful for your cat or dog and further at-home care is often needed. To help with the emotional stress of your pet post-emergency, we recommend NHV Matricalm, which contains ingredients like chamomile and lemon balm to calm the nerves and soothe anxiety. If your pet has gone through an emergency and you would like to incorporate other natural care supplements for their recovery, then please do call us. Each situation is different and we would like to offer you specific advise to aid in your pet’s recovery.

1. Kahn, CM (Ed.) (2007). The Merck Manual for Pet Health: Home Edition. New Jersey: Merck & Co., Inc.
2. Pet First Aid Tips for Owners (2015). Retrieved from
3. Emergency Care (2015). Retrieved from

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