First Aid for Pets
February 15, 2013
When a friend or significant other gets hurt we generally have a
good idea of how to take care of them, but what do you do when your
pet is in an accident? Unfortunately, most pet owners do not
prepare themselves for these tragic incidents until it is too
"It is absolutely necessary to know if your veterinarian has an
after hour emergency service and if not, who they recommend calling
in case of an emergency," said Dr. Mark Stickney, Clinical
Associate Professor at the Texas A&M University College of
Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. "It is also
imperative that you can call your veterinarian for advice on what
to do to help your pet until you can get it to a clinic."
Two common emergency situations that pet owners should be
equipped for are poisoning and trauma.
"If you suspect that your pet has eaten something toxic, contact
your veterinarian. They may tell you to make it vomit by feeding it
hydrogen peroxide," states Stickney. "While hydrogen peroxide is
generally harmless, there are some poisons that will actually make
things worse if the pet vomits so it is important that you contact
your veterinarian first. Having a bottle of hydrogen peroxide in
the medicine cabinet before you need it is a good idea."
As temperatures begin to rise, snake bites become more and more
common with pets. If you think your pet has been bitten by a snake,
stay calm and take it to the vet right away. Do not use a
tourniquet on the animal, as this will limit the blood flow to the
area causing more harm than good.
"The area where the pet was bitten will swell up very quickly,"
said Stickney. "Just because there is no visible puncture wound
does not mean that your pet did not get bitten. If you are able to
kill the snake, then take it to the veterinarian with you. If they
can identify it they will have a better idea of how harmful the
Traumatic events such as getting hit by a car, bike, or other
vehicle, are sadly not uncommon for pet dogs and cats. While the
animal might look okay, it is a good idea to have it checked out by
a veterinarian anyway.
"Trauma can be very deceiving. What appears to be a minor injury
on the outside may hide a lot of damaged tissue on the inside,"
The first thing to do if your pet has been injured and is
bleeding is to put pressure on the area to slow blood flow. Wounded
pets may bite from pain, fear, or confusion so it is good to have a
muzzle to use in this type of situation.
"Your pet might be your best friend, but when dogs are hurt they
may not remember that," said Stickney. "If you have a big dog, I
would also recommend that you have a dog stretcher. They make it
much easier to move large injured animals."
Less severe accidents such as minor cuts and scrapes are common
and can be handled much like you would treat yourself.
"Make sure that the cut is as clean as possible," said Stickney.
"I would not recommend putting antibiotic cream anywhere your pet
can lick it off as this just causes more germs to get in the wound.
If the cut is on an area they can't lick than something like
Neosporin will be fine. Elizabethan collars are useful for
preventing a pet from gaining access to an injury."
About Pet Talk
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine
& Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be
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