September 11, 2009

Pet First Aid and CPR

At the request of one of my readers, I am going to show you a few sites and demos that we use to teach First Aid to our animal care and vet nursing students. There is no quick way to learn everything you need to know, but if it is an area that interests you, there are things you can do to help yourself be better prepared as a pet owner.

First Aid is not what happens when the animal arrives at a vet clinic - it is what happens when you least expect it, are the least prepared, and do not have time to read a text book. What can you do right there, right then, in the light of the headlights; at the park or when you smash a car window and pull out a pet that is overheating.

Whatever the situation, always keep yourself safe and look out for any danger to yourselves or other people.
 The most important thing is that there are some techniques to practice, and that you might need to improvise to make muzzles, stretchers and bandages. Remember - injured dogs can be scared and sore - they can bite.. protect yourself.

 In any emergency - once we have made the scene safe, we always check the ABC's:

A - Airways - can they breathe - is there an obstuction! Are they breathing?
B - Bleeding - is there a lot of blood loss - is it spurting out or just oozing?
C- Circulation - is there a pulse or heartbeat?

To help you learn what to do, a good human first aid course is very useful. The techniques are similar, and help people to be aware of the essential skills they need, for all species. Most vets are trained in human first aid - we just have to be reminded  to actually talk and explain things to our patients, not just pat them!

I can strongly recommend you visit The Pet Hub - as they produce first aid kits. If you check there it will give you a list of the major things you should keep in stock! Yes - you can make up your own - but as we tend to be lazy, sometimes buying a comprehensive kit is easier than gathering all the small bits and pieces up, particularly when the emergency has already occurred.

We consider that pet first aid also needs to cover fractures, bee stings and burns so it helps to know what to do. To help, you can also order a first aid guide through this site - great way to read up on potential emergency situations.

We may need to do "Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation " or CPR in any of the following circumstances:
  • Blood loss;
  • Choking;
  • Concussion;
  • Diabetic coma;
  • Electric shock;
  • Heart failure;
  • Near-drowning;
  • Poisoning;
  • Shock;
  • Smoke inhalation.
The technique for doing CPR on dog, or cats, is slightly different to humans!  This video will help to show you what to do.

We also give all our students a copy of the file about Dog and Cat CPR: It is a file you can download for free and, when printed, it makes a readily portable 3-fold brochure that you can keep in the car or handy at home.

Another site I sometimes check out covers a range of first aid incidents and some photos to help you.
- Written and illustrated by Dr. Fiona Anderson

Hope this encourages you to look further into how you can help your pet.


  1. Thank you Fi and on behalf of some others I know I will have to print it for as they are too far out in the woods for the net ( such as two of my brothers ) I wish to thank you on their behalves and those of the animals ( not just pets ) they end up caring for. George for example has road workers from 3 counties ( roughly the size of the smaller of your two main islands. Bring him large birds, Hawks, Owls, Eagles to him for nursing back to health. So far if the birds have survived to make it there he has managed to nurse them back till release back to the wild. He's been doing it almost 30 years now and his background engineering. ( Bio-medical engineering but it's still a far cry from Vet training ) I knew you taught but not at what level. For my Own curiosity are you a full tenured prof? If not you should be IMHO. If they want you to offer the discovery of some strange new life form first I volunteer. However from what K says Scott and I may well be the same rare species. BTW ask her what I thought Gman stood for.

    Make sure you are not drinking something hot over the keyboard and that your bowels and bladder are completely voided first. ( from what she told me she used as the basis of the nickname I imagine it will only get a smile from him ) also tell him if he really wants to live up to K's nickname for him he needs to go into an ice cream shop and with a completely straight face ask if they have Haggis flavored ice cream. To be fair I tried it and can assure you it is possible, some locals now think I am even stranger than before if that is possible.

    Back to topic as I read research and practice, think my cat and my Mom's will be more cooperative then the dog. He is less so since going blind. But still the best living thing ever to live on the face of this planet. But I may ask for elaboration or additional advice or possible substitutes for some things.

    Thank you for this. ( I know it will save a great many animals and my stupid tooth ache has me moody, I'm a little more then misty eyed right now,)

  2. Fi,

    I think that it is wonderful that you posted such great information for animal lovers the world over. I know that I would feel better having the information if I had my own pet.


  3. A good post on Pet First Aid and CPR
    I did come across a website It’s has all information on first aid emergencies. It has information on Human emergencies and even for pets like cat or dog. Hope it help you guys too.

    Signature: Online First Aid Kit


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