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You are here: Home > First Aid for Your Pet

First Aid for Pets

Click here for horse first aid

This section is dedicated to first aid products for dogs, cats and other pets. This is not a substitution for proper veterinary care, simply emergency supplies for your non-human family members.

Basic Supplies:
Gauze pads, gauze roll/ bandages, roll of cloth, thermometer, tweezers, hydrogen peroxide, antibiotic ointment, Q-tips, instant cold pack, rags/ rubber tubing for tourniquet, First Aid book

Handling an Injured Animal
Any animal injured or in pain can bite or scratch you. Even the friendliest of pets must be handled with care for the safety, of all involved. If you are accidentally bitten or scratched, seek medical attention. Both dog and cat bites can become infected quickly!


Vital Statistics: Pulse and Heart Rate
Normal resting rates:

  • Cats: 150-200 bpm
  • Small dogs: 90-120 bpm
  • Medium dogs: 70-110 bpm
  • Large dogs: 60-90 bpm

Pulse should be strong, regular and easy to locate.

Checking the pulse
The easiest place to locate a pulse is the femoral artery in the groin area. Place your fingers on the inside of the hind leg and slide your hand upward until the back of your fingers touches the abdomen. Gently move your fingers back and forth on the inside of the hind leg until you feel the pulsing blood. Count the number of pulses in 15 seconds and multiply that number by 4. This will give you the beats per minute (bpm).

Normal temp. for dogs and cats: 100-102.5 degrees
Thermometer should be almost clean when removed.
Abnormalities are indicated by blood, diarrhea, or black, tarry stool.

Basic First Aid Procedures
All of the following situations require immediate veterinary care.

  1. Fractures
    • Muzzle animal.
    • Gently lay animal on a board, wooden door, tarp, etc. padded with blankets.
    • Secure animal to the support.
    • Do not attempt to set the fracture.
    • If a limb is broken, wrap the leg in cotton padding, then wrap with a magazine, rolled newspaper, towel or two sticks. Splint should extend one joint above the fracture and one joint below. Secure with tape. Make sure wrap does not constrict blood flow.
    • If the spine, ribs, hip, etc. appears injured or broken, gently place the animal on the stretcher and immobilize it if possible.
  2. Bleeding (external)
    • Muzzle animal.
    • Press thick gauze pad over wound. Hold firmly until clotting occurs.
    • If bleeding is severe, apply a tourniquet between the wound and the heart.
    • Loosen tourniquet for 20 seconds every 15-20 minutes.
    • A tourniquet is dangerous and should only be used in life-threatening hemorrhaging of a limb. It may result in amputation or disability of the limb.
  3. Bleeding (internal)
    • Symptoms: bleeding from nose, mouth, rectum; coughing blood; blood in urine; pale gums; collapse; rapid or weak pulse.
    • Keep animal as warm and quiet as possible.
  4. Burns
    • Chemical
      • Muzzle animal.
      • Flush immediately with large quantities of cold water.
    • Severe
      • Muzzle animal.
      • Quickly apply ice water compresses.
      • Treat for shock if necessary.
  5. Shock
    • Symptoms: weak pulse; shallow breathing; nervousness; dazed appearance.
    • Often accompanies severe injury or extreme fright.
    • Keep animal restrained, quiet and warm.
    • If unconscious, keep head level with rest of body.

Restraint Methods
If your animal is injured, you must restrain him/her for your safety as well as your pet's. Muzzle your pet to restrain it unless it is unconscious, has difficulty breathing or has a mouth injury.


  1. Speak and move calmly and quietly.
  2. Have someone restrain the dog with a leash.
  3. Approach dog from the side and behind its head; do not attempt to put muzzle on from the front.
  4. Quickly slip a nylon or wire cage muzzle over nose, secure snugly behind ears.
  5. If a muzzle is not available, you can make one from a strip of gauze, rag, necktie, belt or rope about 3 feet long.
    • Make a large loop in the center. Quickly slip loop over dog's nose.
    • Bring ends under chin. Tie snugly behind ears.
  1. Speak and move calmly and quietly.
  2. Have someone restrain the cat by holding the scruff of its neck firmly. This does not hurt the cat; it just prevents him/her from moving.
  3. Working from behind the cat, quickly slip a nylon muzzle over the cat's face. The muzzle will cover most of his/her face, including the eyes. Secure snugly behind head.
  4. If you are alone, scruff the cat with one hand and put the muzzle over the cat's face with the other. Slide both hands along muzzle straps and secure behind the head.
  5. If a muzzle is not available, one can be made with a rag or a strip of gauze. Make sure that it is carefully placed around the cat's mouth and securely fastened, as cats can escape from these temporary muzzles.
Cats--Body Restraint
  1. Most cats can be restrained by holding the scruff of the neck.
  2. The "Cat Sack" can be used for fractious or very frightened cats. Slip sack over cat from tail to head, zip up appropriate zippers.
  3. Wrap cat in a towel, making, sure his/her front legs are covered and against the body.
  4. Gloves are not recommended for handling cats. They reduce the handler's dexterity and can easily be penetrated by a cat's teeth.


Basic First Aid Procedures
All of the following situations require immediate veterinary care.

  1. Fractures
    • Wing
      • Restrain bird by wrapping in a towel or slipping into a sock with the toe cut out.
    • Leg
      • Restrain bird by wrapping in a towel or sock, leaving leg exposed.
      • Splint leg with 2 pieces of adhesive tape placed perpendicular to leg across break site.
  2. Bleeding
    • Broken "blood" feather (new feather)
      • Pull feather out gently; bleeding should decrease.
      • Press finger over removal site until bleeding stops.
    • Wound or broken nail
      • Apply pressure to site with finger(s). Bleeding should decrease.
      • Apply "Quick Stop" powder or styptic to stop bleeding.
      • Flour or cornstarch can be used in an emergency.
  3. Puncture Wounds
    • Wrap bird in towel or sock.
      • See veterinarian: antibiotics are required to prevent infections.


  1. Carefully wrap bird in towel, gently folding his/her wings against the body. Keep your hands out of the way of the beak.
  2. Gloves are not recommended for bigger birds. They reduce the handler's dexterity and strong beaks can easily penetrate them.



  1. Wrap the animal in a towel or rag, gently folding his/her legs against the body.

This material produced by the
Palo Alto Humane Society in conjunction with the American Red Cross Northern California Disaster Preparedness Network and the Independent Living Resource Center, San Francisco, CA in cooperation with June Kailes, Disability Consultant through a grant from The American Red Cross Northern California Disaster Preparedness Network

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Antiseptic Wipes Cotton Balls (130/Box)
Antiseptic Wipes
Our Price: $3.75
Cotton Balls (130/Box)
Our Price: $4.95
Folded towelettes saturated with benzalkonium chloride solution. An ideal antiseptic wipe for gentle cleansing of minor wounds and skin irritations. Convenient towelette for hand washing prior to and after patient contact.

Available in two quantities.

Soft cotton for application of ointments a variety of other applications.
Cotton Tip 3" Applicators Disposable Silver Rescue Blanket
Soft cotton tips for application of ointments and removal of loose foreign objects in the eyes.

Available in two quantities.

Lightweight, lifesaving warmth that fits in your pocket.
Disposable Tweezers Elastic 3'' Wrap
Disposable Tweezers
Our Price: $2.25
Elastic 3" Wrap
Our Price: $4.45
Single-use disposable high-grade plastic tweezers. A high-quality elastic bandage made of the finest quality cotton yarns, reinforced with rubber. Resists deterioration from ointments and medications. Compare to ACE® Bandages.

Bandage Dimensions: 3" x 5 Yards

Emergency Medical Gloves (2 Pairs) Insect Sting Wipes (10/Box)
Formed from sturdy, blue nitrile.  Air tested for leaks.  Two quick pairs for emergency use when coming in contact with bodily fluids. Individually wrapped medicated pads relieve the pain and itching associated with minor insect bites and stings.
Instant Large Ice Pack Lister Bandage Scissors
Instant Large Ice Pack
Our Price: $2.59
Lister Bandage Scissors
Our Price: $4.45
Convenient and compact.  Becomes 34° F (1.1° C) in three seconds.  No refrigeration required.  Simply squeeze and shake for instant cooling. Highly polished surgical steel 4 1/2'' scissors used to safely remove first aid bandages and dressings.
Non-Sterile 3'' Clean Wrap Disposable Penlight
Our Price: $4.99
A non-sterile roller bandage used to hold other bandages or dressings in place. These lightweight pens provide a high-intensity light in a durable casing and can be easily clipped to pockets.
QR WoundSeal® Blood Clotter (2/Package) Red Biohazard Bags (20/Roll)
Nontoxic, antimicrobial powder mixture of hydrophilic polymer and potassium salt to stop bleeding in just one minute. Replacement bags for Biohazard Rack Sack disposal unit.
Self-Adherent 2'' Medi-Rip® Single Head Stethoscope
Single Head Stethoscope
Our Price: $8.95
Medi-Rip® is the perfect bandage when you need to treat an injury quickly. It's easy to apply and supports muscles, tendons and ligaments as well as limbs and joints. Medi-Rip® won't slip and it provides support you can rely on. Since it sticks to itself instead of hair or skin, it's also painless to remove. No scissors required.

Bandage Dimensions: 2" x 5 Yards

Single head makes hearing systolic and diastolic heartbeats easy for any lay-person.
Sterile 2'' x 2'' Gauze Pads (10/Box) Sterile 4'' x 4'' Gauze Pads (10/Box)
For general-purpose bandaging and wound cleaning - flexible, absorbent and breathable.  Excellent for controlling bleeding and preventing further contamination of wound. For general-purpose bandaging and wound cleaning - flexible, absorbent and breathable.  Excellent for controlling bleeding and preventing further contamination of wound.
Tourniquet Tourniquet
Tactical Tourniquet
Our Price: $14.95
Our Price: $8.95
In extreme bleeding emergencies, this 1" x 27" white nylon tourniquet can be used to stop blood loss from an open wound. In extreme bleeding emergencies, this 1" x 27" white nylon tourniquet can be used to stop blood loss from an open wound.
Triple Antibiotic Ointment (25/Box) WaterJel® Burn Wrap
WaterJel® Burn Wrap
Our Price: $89.95
Contains three strong infection-fighting agents: bacitracin, neomycin and polymyxin that aids in preventing infection and promoting the healing of infected, injured skin. Ideal for covering torso, leg or entire back injuries.

Bandage Dimensions: 3' x 2 1/2'

Yellow Econo-Blanket
Yellow Econo-Blanket
Our Price: $19.95
Made of heavy-duty poly with a cellulose matting insulation.

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