First Aid for Pets

Apr 14, 2018

Uh-oh! I hurt my leg!
Credit theopie [Flickr]

Knowing what to do for a pet in an emergency can make  a big difference.  For example, applying a splint may seem easy, but done incorrectly, it could do more harm than good.  Learn the basics for pet first aid so you can help your four-legged friend in need.


First aid for pets may be something people have not considered. They will just rush their best friend to the veterinarian’s clinic if it needs help. But when seconds matter, what you know (or don’t know) could make a life-or-death difference for your four-footed companion.

For example, would you know what do to if your pet began to choke on something? Dogs can be as curious as cats, and like to use their mouths to examine objects. Small items can present a high risk for choking, like balls (think golf balls), rawhide toys, even a child’s small plastic toy. If your pet starts to choke on something, there may not be time to get to the vet. First you should open its mouth to see if you can easily remove the object. If not, there is a type of Heimlich Maneuver you can use. It varies depending on the size of the animal, though. You want expel the object without causing injury to your pet.

You can learn how to address the choking problem along with a long list of other crises that may arise by taking the American Red Cross course on Pet First Aid. It may be offered locally in your area or you can take the online version. Plus you can have one of several books on hand for reference. There are even online videos, including YouTube videos, that will show you exactly what to do in most situations - like choking – yes, there is a YouTube video that demonstrates what to do.

The Red Cross also offers an app for your smartphone that will help you know how to handle almost any pet health emergency. It puts the information you need right at your fingertips when you need it most – and you can download the app for free.

April is National Pet First Aid Month. One of the worst things that could happen to your pet is for you to be totally unprepared when it needs your help. Whether it’s a bee sting or ingesting a toxic substance or a traumatic injury, make sure you have a tool available, whether it’s a training course, a book, a video or an app that can help you help your best friend, because that’s what friends are for when you’re speaking of pets.