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Pet First Aid at Home

25 May, 2023
Dogs | Cats | Birds | Reptiles | Fish | Small Animals

Practical advice from Greencross Vet's Regional Clinical Director, Dr. Adam Sternberg.

We may be faced with a situation where we need to administer first aid to our pets. Whilst we hope this will never be the case, it is important to have some knowledge in the event this may happen. It is by no means a replacement for veterinary attention. If in doubt, it is our strong recommendation to always contact your nearest veterinary clinic.

Bleeding / cuts

Paw pads can bleed a lot when injured. If your pet allows, attempt to gently wash with saline or water to remove any obvious contamination then carefully apply a dressing followed by a bandage. It is essential this bandage is not too tight as to compromise blood flow. T-shirts or clean socks can be used as stand-in dressings. Apply the dressing so that it doesn’t fall off; but it is essential it is not too tight, nor left on for long periods before veterinary attention is sought. It can be used whilst you transport your pet to the vet. Infections can occur and sometimes these wounds need to be sutured, so please take your pet to the vet.

Eating something poisonous

Curious pets are not always able to resist the temptation of eating rat baits or other medications around the home. Rat and snail baits as well as human medications are the most common. Making your pet vomit at home is fraught with danger, especially if they are partially conscious or even unconscious, and this is not recommended. If you are concerned your pet has eaten something they shouldn’t have, please contact your nearest vet as soon as possible. The sooner they are seen, the sooner a treatment plan, which may include vomiting, can start. A quick response can make all the difference. Call your vet for advice and they will ask you to bring the packaging in too, so please ensure you take this with you.

Hit by car

Sadly, we often see dogs and cats that have been hit by cars. Accidents are painful and the injuries may include broken bones, or worse. They will be frightened and can bite or scratch in distress. Placing a towel or blanket over their head may assist to keep them calm. Place cats or small dogs in a carry basket or similar to minimise movement during transport. For larger dogs who are too big to carry, roll a towel and place like a sling under their tummy to support their legs whilst walking. Take care not to get bitten, an appropriate sized muzzle can be used in dogs, if they allow. Try to stem any obvious bleeding, as per above, if the situation permits. Call your closest vet for advice and let them know you’re on the way.


Witnessing a seizure in a dog or cat for the first time is quite scary. Stay calm and act quickly to help your pet. During a seizure, pets are generally not aware of their surrounds; they are convulsing and will often release their bowels. Ensure they cannot injure themselves, gently place a towel over their head or body and gently move them away from staircases, furniture or objects. Avoid touching their mouth, don’t offer water or give anything via their mouth as they will likely bite. Call your nearest veterinary clinic and transport them immediately with the air-conditioning on in the car.

Find your closest emergency vet and save their number in your phone.

First Aid Kits

We are often asked about first aid kits for pets and what we should have at home. The following are my suggestions: saline solution (washing / cleaning wounds), a small selection of dressings (aim is to cover a wound for a short time), crepe/conforming bandage (essential not to place too tightly, two fingers should fit comfortably underneath), tick remover, bandage scissors and some tweezers. It is also beneficial to have clean blankets or towels and a secure pet carrier to assist with transport.

Many of our partner emergency hospitals are open 24/7 - Learn more.

Article supplied by RSPCA Queensland

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