Meadow View © All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy | Terms of Use

Looking After  Your Pets Health

590 Lark Street

Geneva, IL  

630 232-8868

Meadow View Veterinary Clinic Veterinarian Batavia, IL

This article is compiled from several sources and is only meant as a guideline.  Contact your veterinarian for medical advise.

First aid is the care given to a patient that has suddenly taken ill or been injured.  Initial first aid should involve assessment of the patient, the surroundings and the situation.  Could the rescuer be put in harms way?  Is the area safe, is the pet conscious, is it breathing, is the airway patent, is there a pulse, is the incident life threatening? 

Secondly, after stabilization of breathing and circulation, check for lesions to the extremity.  Is there any bleeding, fractures, are the eyes and ears ok etc.

Additional Care:  Most emergencies will require professional medical care.  Not only must the pet be protected from additional trauma, but the care giver as well.

First Aid Kit:


            Telfa/non-adhesive pads

            Saline Eye Flush (in a squirt bottle)

            Antibiotic Ointment   

            1" and 2" adhesive tape

            Newspaper or Magazine


            Hydrogen Peroxide




Additional Items

            Small amount of food for snacks in thin, hard working dogs


            An extra supply of any medications your pet takes

            Your veterinarians phone number and one of a veterinarians in the location(s) traveled

            Poison Control:  Illinois Pet 900-680-0000 (there is a fee, be sure to write down case numbers)

                                    National Human Poison Control  800-222-1222 is beneficial in many cases


    A wide variety of problems may arise that require emergency care and first aid. Treatment and actions vary according to circumstances:

    1.  Location and environment

    2.  Equipment and supplies available

    3.  Type of animal (size, disposition, condition)

    4.  Your abilities and state of mind.

Begin with a survey and assessment of the area, is it safe?  Don't put yourself in position to be injured.  Get help if possible or call for help.  Get veterinary advise and administer any essential first aid.  Approach the pet slowly, talk to it and try to access its level of consciousness.  DO NOT just run up and grab the pet, it may get startled, run-away or even bite. 

Use a muzzle if necessary and stabilize the pet for transport if needed with a rigid board, etc.

Don't be afraid to muzzle a pet.  It is of no benefit for you or the pet to be bitten.  A muzzle can be made from some gauze or a belt looped around the muzzle and then tied around the back of the head.  

Be sure the pet can breath with its mouth shut.  Do not use on short nosed dogs, pets with difficulty breathing, unconscious pets or vomiting pets.  For small pets, a blanket may be useful to restrain the pet.

The ABC's of First Aid"

    "A" = airway, first make sure the pet is not suffocating or choking, i.e. if the pets head is in mud, get it out.

    "B" =Breathing and Bleeding,  control any hemorrhage and administer mouth to muzzle resuscitation as   needed.

    "C" =Cardiovascular, establish perfusion and blood flow to the organs, this may require chest compressions.

Basic CPR is performed at the scene to establish oxygen flow to all tissues, esp. vital organs.  If oxygen supply is interrupted for only a few minutes, it can result in irreversible damage.  Ventilation and breathing are the priority, then chest compressions.  The heart can not work without oxygen and circulated blood is not effective if it is not oxygenated.  


1.  Make sure the animal is actually arrested and unconscious.  Talk to the pet for any sign or arousal, if no response, gently shake the pet.  If the pet does not respond, you should then begin CPR.

2.  Ensure and open airway.  Extend the head and neck and pull the tongue forward.  Remove any obstructions (saliva or vomit).  If you cannot see to the back, perform a finger sweep deep into the back of the mouth to remove any obstructing material.  Animals do have a hard, smooth, bone-like structure deep in the throat- do not pull hard on this.

Pet First Aid

3.  Observe for effective breathing.  Sometimes an animal may begin to breathe spontaneously when the head is placed in this position (head and neck extended and tongue pulled forward.  Watch for the rise and fall of the chest and listen for the sounds of breathing.

4.  Begin rescue breathing.  Cover the pets nose and with your mouth around the nostrils, blow air into the lungs until you see the chest expand.  In cats and small dogs, you need to hold the corners of the mouth tightly closed while you blow in.  In larger dogs, then tongue should be pulled forward and the lips and mouth held closed by cupping your hands around the mouth.  Be careful not to over-inflate in very small animals.  Take your mouth away once the chest is fully expanded, repeat these steps for 4-5 breaths, stop and check for spontaneous breathing.  If the pet is still not breathing, repeat the above steps giving a breath every 3-5 seconds.  Press down on the stomach every 5 seconds or so to help remove air that may have been blown into the stomach.  Air in the stomach causes pressure on the diaphragm and makes ventilation less effective.

5.  If the pet fails to respond to treatment, continue rescue breathing while transporting to a veterinary care facility if possible.

  Chest Compressions:

1.  Determine if the pet has a pulse, if no pulse is present start chest compressions.  A heart beat can be determined by clasping the hand around the thigh region to feel a femoral pulse or by trying to palpate a heart beat over the chest.

2.  Chest compressions should be initiated after establishing that the airway is patent and rescue breaths have been given.

3.  In small dogs and cats squeeze the chest using one or both hands around the chest, depress the rib cage.  In small animals the rate should be 100-150 compressions per minute.  Large animals can receive compressions by placing one or both hands on the side of chest at its widest part.  Compress the chest about 80-100 times per minute.  This may also be performed with the animal on its back and by placing the hands over the sternum.

4.  If it is not possible to give breaths with compressions (ie. there is only one rescuer)  then administer 2 breaths after every 10-12 compressions. 

5.  Continue CPR until:

        A.  You become exhausted and nobody else is able  to continue.

        B.  The animal is able to receive professional care after transport.

        C.  Pulses are palpated to be good and regular breathing is good and spontaneous, or if the pet no longer allows it is a good indication.  

6.  All animals requiring CPR need to seek professional care.

Bandaging and Wound Care

Pets get injured for numerous reasons, ranging from minor scrapes that need no care to major trauma.  There are times when it becomes necessary to provide care until professional care can be provided.  Regardless of cause, inappropriate care of a wound can be worse than no care.

With cuts and scrapes, the first step is to clean the wound.  Sterile water is preferable but often not available to the care giver.  In these instances flushing with liberal amounts of clean water is acceptable.  Avoid using strong soaps or detergents, the main goal is to wash debris and contaminants away.

After the wound is clean, dressings may be applied as follows:

        1.  Preferrably apply a sterile non-stick pad (telfa pad).  If unavailable gauze may be substituted with a small amount of antibiotic coating it.  This helps to prevents "sticking" of the bandage to the wound.

        2.  Apply and absorbent conforming layer.  This is usually best accomplished with cotton roll if available.  Too narrow of material can slip and cause a constricting effect on circulation.  Wider material can be more difficult to get to conform.  Do not apply too tightly either, as this can also affect circulation.  Start by applying the material from the most distal portion of the leg and wrap proximally. 

Apply even pressure to the wrap, uneven over over-taught bandages can constrict circulation and cause tissue death.  It is usually necessary to apply several layers.

3.  Lastly, apply a protective layer.  This can either be a porous adhesive tape or an elastic wrap (Vet Wrap, Elastikon, etc). Again wrap from the distal portion (toes) proximally.  Do not over-tighten this layer either.  Elastic bandages should be applied with only very light tension.

4.  All bandages should be check by a professional as soon as possible.  Wounds with large amounts of discharge may need changed several times daily, where wounds with little or no discharge may only need changed every 1-2 days.

In emergency situations, a leg may need to be stabilized for transport if a fracture is present.  A bandage may not provide much support on its own, but support can be provided if a small board or even a newspaper is integrated into the bandage.  Again, do not apply too tightly.  In order to be effective the splint needs to extend above the fracture site, so for femur (thigh) or shoulder fractures this will not be beneficial and by be contraindicated.  Professional care should be sought as soon as possible.