First aid for dogs and cats

At some stage during their life your pet may experience a medical emergency or health problem and, if they do, you are likely to be the person they rely on to provide First Aid. Naturally, you should always seek veterinary attention as soon as possible but sometimes those first few minutes in an emergency can make all the difference.

When attending to an injured or unwell pet follow the ABC rule.

A is for Airway: check whether there is anything blocking your pet’s airway. B is for Breathing: Check whether your pet is breathing easily and normally. C is for Circulation: Can you feel your pet’s pulse or heartbeat? If the answer to any of these questions is ‘no’ then you need to contact your vet immediately.

Remember, injured or unwell pets may be anxious or aggressive so take precautions when administering pet First Aid to ensure your own safety.

CPR for pets

If your pet’s airway is obstructed, they are having difficulty breathing or you can’t find a pulse, attempt CPR.

1. Check for pulse (using the middle and index fingers on the inner thigh).
2. If your pet isn’t breathing: for small cats and dogs place your mouth over the nose and mouth, keep the jaw closed, and blow air in. For medium-large dogs use your hand to form a funnel over the nose, keep the jaw closed and then and blow air in.
3. If breath won’t go in, your pet’s airway may be blocked. To dislodge an obstruction turn your pet upside down with its back against your chest, wrap your arms around your pet and clasp your hands just below their rib cage in the abdominal area. Using both arms perform five sharp thrusts into the abdomen, then check your pet’s mouth for a dislodged object. Remove the object and perform mouth-to-mouth until breathing resumes.
4. If your pet doesn’t have a pulse start compressions. Lie your pet on its right side, place your hand over its ribs where the elbow meets the chest and begin compressions as follows:

CPR guide
Cat/small dog (under 15kgs) – 0.5-1 inch compressions, 5 compressions per breath
Medium/large dog (15-45kgs) 1-3 inch compressions, 5 compressions per breath
Extra large breed (45kg +) 10 inch compressions, 10 compressions per breath


If your pet has an accident that breaks the skin and is bleeding, apply pressure to the wound to try to stem the flow. Clean the affected area with saline and where possible remove any dirt. A three percent hydrogen peroxide solution (you can buy at the supermarket) makes an excellent all-purpose wound cleaner. It foams on contact with dirty material in a contaminated wound. Get your pet to a vet as soon as possible so that they can provide antibiotic treatment to prevent infection. Pure Aloe Vera jelly mixed with Manuka honey is a great healing remedy for large wounds.

Snake bites

As the season begins to change, snakes will become increasingly active. September, and the start of more temperate weather, is feeding and breeding season for snakes. If your pet has been bitten by a snake symptoms may include trembling, vomiting, excessive drooling, dilated pupils, respiratory distress and paralysis. If you can, identify what type of snake has bitten your pet, then head straight to the vet, ringing ahead to let them know you are coming so they have maximum time to prepare. En route to the vet, keep your pet calm and carry your dog to prevent the spread of poison. Keep them cool, wrap them in soaked towels with ice packs if available. Treated quickly, around 80 percent of pets survive snake bites.

Insect bites

Most insect bites only induce mild symptoms such as irritation and swelling. In these cases try soothing irritation with tea tree oil diluted 1 part to 4 parts water, or lavender oil. Don’t use tea tree oil where your pet can lick it off themselves or it will cause more harm than good. Some insect bites can cause respiratory distress (especially if your pet is bitten in the mouth which is common if they snap at an insect flying past) so, if your pet is having breathing difficulties or you know that they have been bitten or stung by a poisonous insect, head to the vet as quickly as possible for treatment.

Pet First Aid kit

Be prepared, and you’ll have First Aid supplies at your finger tips in your pet is injured or becomes unwell. A pet First Aid kit should include gauze swabs, pressure bandages of different sizes, dressings, saline solution, iodine and disposable gloves. There are some good kits available online or you can put one together yourself.

We endeavour to deliver the best information possible on natural health and diets for dogs and cats. Our articles involve contributions from senior veterinarians and are researched thoroughly. They remain the opinion of Vets All Natural however and we would always recommend seeking professional advice specific to your pet from a veterinarian. © Copyright 2015 Vets All Natural. All Rights Reserved

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