Basic first aid tips for your animals


Knowing some basic first aid and having a kit easily accessible could just save your pets life.

Here we will cover some basic first aid tips and some basic essentials you should have in your first aid kit. Be sure to ask your vet on any specific items your pet may need due to allergies and also keep in mind different animals need some specific items. Horses and livestock will need certain items that your dogs and cats won’t. Just for example it would be wise to have on hand for horses a hoof pick and banamine or for cattle you may need scour-ease and nutri-drench with tubing. I have found the best container to use for a kit is a toolbox with a removable tray or fold out shelves for easy access. So on that note I have compiled a list of some essentials.

  • Gauze and vet wrap/bandages
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Scalpel
  • Tweezers
  • Latex gloves
  • Lubricant (petroleum jelly)
  • Veterinary thermometer
  • Wound antiseptic ointment or spray such as blu-kote or neosporin
  • Rubbing alcohol or iodine
  • Syringes of different sizes and both oral and needle
  • Eye wash
  • Towels
  • Small battery operated hair trimmer
  • Epsom salts
  • Cornstarch
  • Timer or stop watch
  • A flashlight
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Treats specific for your pet

All these items can be sourced from your local vet and pet store. If anything is not in stock it can easily be found online. Now you have your kit ready, make sure to store it in an easily accessible place and add on the inside of your lid a sticker with your vets name and contact details for quick access in case of an emergency for anyone that may look after your pet.

So onto some first aid care tips.  As most of my clients pets are dogs I will be referring to the care of them but most of these tips apply to other animals also.

It is very handy to know your individual pets average resting heart rate, respiratory rate and temperature. In case of your pet becoming ill, like heat exhaustion in dogs or colic in horses, monitoring change in their HRT will assist your vet in diagnosing the issue and responding quickly to help your pet.

Always remain calm!

I cannot stress this enough, your pet can pick up on your stress and the calmer you are the more they will be. In most situations it is best to immediately get your vet on the phone and while talking tend to your pet with your first aid kit. Choking is one instance where you won’t have time. If you think your dog is choking gently restrain him and use both hands to open the mouth and look inside and if you can see something lodged carefully using your fingers and remove the problem. If you are unable to remove it or nothing can be seen and you are certain something is lodged inside, the Heimlich maneuver can be used.

Amongst some of the other most common emergencies are poisoning and heat exhaustion. If you suspect your pet is suffering from poisoning immediately call your vet or their after hours contact for advice.

Heat exhaustion and dehydration may be able to be treated at home but call your vet and let them know your pets symptoms and they will advice you on wether to bring your pet in or not. To help your pet offer plenty of water, you can possibly add salt free bone or chicken broth to encourage your dog to drink it and some dogs will take better to it if you offer by hand. Try get your pet to the shade or better cold floors eccspecially tiles work well. As tempting as it is to give your dog iceblocks, put the hose on them or in a bath please be careful, lowering your dog’s skin and surface temperature too abruptly might actually result in further heating of his internal organs, which will exacerbate the issue. Instead, recognizing that you dog’s feet help with the regulation of body temperature, have him enter the water slowly. Let him stand with just his feet in cold water for a while.

Monitor your pets temperature and respiratory rate and make sure they come down to your pets normal level. To check for dehydration pinch the skin between the shoulder blades. If it stays in a tented position and doesn’t bounce straight back your pet may be dehydrated. The longer it stays tented the more severe the dehydration.

Knowing the early signs of an issue with your pet is vital. We will talk about some of the most common symptoms of the issues we have mentioned above.

Heat exhaustion: Collapsing, body temperature of 104° F (40°c) or above, bloody diarrhea or vomiting, wobbliness, excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, bright red gums and increased salivation.

Poisoning: Dilated pupils, drooling or foaming at the mouth, bleeding externally or internally and seizure.

Choking: struggling to breath, pawing at their face, pacing, wheezing and fainting.

Your pet may exhibit one, some or all of the above symptoms.

One more thing I want to talk about before i wrap up is moving an injured pet.  If your pet has injured itself, for example has been hit by a car and cannot move. Do not hug or get in your dogs face. All dogs can lash out when in pain so be careful. Always fully assess the situation before you move him. Try to stabilise the injury with a towel, splint or bandages before you try to pick them up. Support as much of the body as you can while lifting into your car, if you have a larger dog make sure to get help. Keep your pet in a small space to minimise the risk of further injury.

If you have made it this far thankyou for taking the time to read. If you have any questions or comments about things I have covered or not covered please don’t hesitate to contact me. So many health issues can arise but i wanted to cover some of the most common but less spoken about issues. I am not a vet so always reccomend first seeking advice from a vet but I am trained in first aid so can help direct you with certain situations.

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