How to Prepare to Provide Your Cat or Dog with Necessary First Aid

As April springs into full-swing, we want to celebrate National Pet First Aid Awareness Month. As pet parents, we always try to keep our pets safe. One essential procedure that many pet parents forget about is providing their dog, cat, or other pet with first-aid. When it comes to your pet’s safety, you should be prepared to be a first responder when an injury or illness occurs.

Poisoning, Toxins, and Ingestion of other Household Hazards

The first step to keeping your pet safe when it comes to household hazards is education. Do you know what your dog, cat, or bird can or cannot eat? Most people know that anti-freeze is dangerous, but did you know garlic can be, too? Luckily, the AVMA has put together a helpful brochure you can use, then print and keep in your First-Aid kit as a reference.

If your pet eats something he or she shouldn’t, call us immediately.

Tips for Pet First-Aid for Injuries

Trust us, pets tend to get into some mischief, and unfortunately, it isn’t always harmless. It’s essential to know how you should respond if your pet gets hurt. Here are some of the most common types of injuries pets face and how you should respond. For almost all of the following scenarios (except choking), you should try to muzzle your pet to protect yourself from incidental bites.

Bleeding from Cuts or Internal Injury

Minor cuts or scrapes: Cover the wound with gauze. Wrap it tightly and apply pressure. It can take three minutes or more for blood to begin to clot.

Major Cuts: If your pet suffers an unfortunate but serious cut, tourniquet the limb with gauze orca band, then cover and apply pressure to the wound. Bring your pet into us immediately or go to an emergency vet clinic. If it takes more than 15-20 minutes, you will have to loosen the band for about 20 seconds so the limb can receive circulation.

Internal Injuries

If your pet suffers an internal injury, bring them in ASAP. Signs of an internal injury include bleeding from orifices, bloody urine, and irregular pulse (too fast or weak).


Chemical burns should always be addressed quickly. Flush the wound with ample water and bring your pet in.

Burns from Hot Substances: Apply an ice pack to the burn. It's a good idea to make an appointment with us so that we can help in prevention of infection.


Check inside your pet’s mouth for what they’re choking on. If you can easily reach the object carefully remove it, but be aware that you could be easily bitten due to your pet's anxiety and stress levels. If you can’t reach the object, call us or a nearby emergency clinic immediately for further instructions. 

Possible Broken or Fractured Bones

If your pet breaks a bone, try to immobilize them by swaddling them or carrying a heavier pet, like a larger dog, in on a makeshift stretcher.

How to Prep a Pet-Ready First-Aid Kit

Everybody has a first-aid kit lying around, but not many people stock theirs with pet-friendly supplies. Being prepared can get your pet out of a lot of trouble and decrease the severity of a wound or illness.

First-Aid Supplies for a Pet-Ready Kit

  • Poisons and toxins List
  • A list with our number (651-770-3250) and the emergency vet nearest you
  • Your pet’s vaccination paperwork and tags
  • A leash
  • Self-cling bandage (like what they wrap your arm with after you donate blood)
  • A muzzle
  • Gauze
  • Tape
  • Antiseptic
  • A towel (and a pillowcase for cats)
  • Cotton swabs
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Gloves
  • A rectal thermometer with petroleum jelly
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers

We hope this article helps you feel prepared to help your pet should you ever be faced with an emergency. Remember, if you’re ever in doubt, call our veterinary team. From allergic reactions to bug bites to porcupine quills, we see it all!

Photo Credit: absolutimages / iStock / Getty Images Plus

After-Hours Emergencies

After Hours Veterinary Care
1014 Dale Street North
St. Paul, MN 55117
(Inside Como Park Animal Hospital just north of downtown St. Paul)
24-hour care for multiple species

Animal Emergency & Referral Center of MN
1163 Helmo Avenue N
Oakdale, MN 55128


Animal Emergency & Referral Center of MN
1542 7th St. W.
St. Paul, MN 55012
(located 2 blocks east of 35E)