Emergency Pet First Aid

Emergency Pet First Aid

The more informed you are about emergency pet first aid, the more prepared you will be if your pets are ever injured in an emergency or disaster situation.

Keep in mind, it may not be possible to get them to a veterinarian right away.

We don't like to think of emergencies - they happen to someone else, right? Ask yourself the following two questions:

1.   Would you know what to do if your pet needs CPR or emergency first aid?

2.   Are you prepared with first aid supplies for the emergency needs of your pets?

As a responsible pet owner you should know what to do, learning Emergency Pet First Aid and Pet CPR can help your pet when they need it the most! Learn the steps below.

This page is designed to give pet owners the basic emergency pet first aid information needed to stabilize an injured pet until qualified veterinary care can be obtained.

On The Emergency Pet First Aid Page:

1- PET CPR FOR DOGS and CATS - Video Instructions

PET CPR FOR DOGS and CATS - Written Instructions (Printable)



VIDEO - How to perform CPR on your pet

Detailed written instructions below, also instructions that you can print and keep handy.

Click Here To Print The Following Pet CPR and Heimlich Instruction Guide With Illustrations

(Adobe Reader required to open the PDF guide): Get Adobe Reader

Emergency Pet First Aid

CPR is an emergency technique used to help someone whose heart and/or breathing has stopped. Although somewhat modified, the same techniques used for people – rescue breathing and chest compressions – can be used to help treat an animal in distress.

The first lesson to know about CPR is that it doesn't restart a stopped heart. The purpose of CPR, in both humans and animals, is to keep them alive until the heart begins beating on its own or where they can be treated in a medical facility, or a cardiac defibrillator can be used.

A- Airway

The first step in animal CPR (like human CPR), after determining that the animals non-responsive, is to obtain an open airway.

You should not continue past A-Airway, until this step has been achieved!

1. Carefully pull the tongue straight out of the animal’s mouth to open the airway.
WARNING: Even an unresponsive dog may bite by instinct!!

Pace a soft block of something at beginning of mouth to avoid automatic biting down while Attempting to straighten the tongue or remove blockage.

2. Make sure that the neck is reasonably straight; try to bring the head in-line with the neck.
WARNING: Do not over-straighten the neck in cases where neck/head trauma exists.

3. Attempt 2 rescue breaths, by closing the mouth, and performing mouth-to-nose ventilation's. If breaths go in with no problems continue to - B-Breathing.

4. If not, reposition the neck and try step 3 again.

5. Visibly inspect the airway by looking into the mouth, and down the throat for foreign objects occluding the airway. Unlike human-CPR, rescuers may reach into the airway and remove foreign objects that are visible.

NOTE: Animals have a bone deep in the throat at the base of the tongue which is the hyoid apparatus or Adam's apple which can be mistaken for obstruction or chicken bone. Great damage can be done by pulling on this.

6. If you still can’t breath into the animal, proceed to the HEIMLICH MANEUVER FOR DOGS AND CATS.


B- Breathing

After achieving a clear airway, one must determine whether the animal is breathing, and whether this breathing is effective:

1. Carefully pull the tongue straight out of the animal’s mouth to open the airway.
REMEMBER: Even an unresponsive dog may bite by instinct!!

2. Make sure that the neck is reasonably straight; try to bring the head in-line with the neck.
WARNING: Do not over-straighten the neck in cases where neck/head trauma exists.

3. Breathe at 12 breaths per minute (1 breath every 5 seconds) With each breath just make the chest rise (do not over-inflate, especially on a small animal)
IMPORTANT: If the breaths do not go in, stop and return to A-Airway!

4. Proceed to C-Circulation, while continuing breathing support as necessary.


C- Circulation

This is the final step of CPR and should only be started after the A-airway and B-breathing steps have been completed:

1. Make sure that there are no major (pooling/spurting blood) points of bleeding. Control as necessary by applying pressure with your hand.

2. Check for a pulse in the groin (check carefully on a conscious dog or cat!)

3. Lay the animal on its right side.

4. Locate your hands where its left elbow touches the chest, approximately the middle of the rib-cage (for cats use 1 hand in a squeezing motion).

5. Compress the chest 15 times followed by 2 rescue breaths (3 compressions every 2 seconds)
1/2” - small dogs & cats
1” - medium dogs
1.5” - large dogs

6. Repeat as necessary



If you were unable to clear an object from the airway in step A-Airway, you will need to do the Heimlich Maneuver:

1. Turn the animal upside down, with its back against your chest.

2. Hug the animal with your fist in your hand, just below the rib-cage (for cats, or small dogs, just squeeze 1 hand in the same place).

3. With both arms, give 5 sharp thrusts (bear hugs) to the abdomen. Perform each thrust as if it is the one that will expel the object.

4. Stop, check to see if the object is visible in the airway, if so, remove it and give 2 mouth-nose rescue breaths. If the breaths do not go in, go back to step 1.

IMPORTANT: Do not proceed with CPR, even if the animal goes into cardiac arrest. You must clear the airway first.



Emergency pet first aid kits can be made to fit your personal needs or purchased as a complete Pet First Aid Kit. As a responsible pet owner, you should also be able to properly USE the first aid kit -

An emergency pet first aid kit should have as many of the following items as possible:

  • Gauze sponges -- 50 four-by-four inch sponges, two per envelope
  • Triple antibiotic ointment
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Ear syringe -- two ounce capacity
  • Ace self-adhering athletic bandage -- three-inch width
  • White petroleum jelly (Vaseline or similar)
  • Eye wash
  • Sterile, non-adherent pads
  • Pepto Bismol tablets
  • Generic Benadryl capsules -- 25mg, for allergies
  • Hydro cortisone acetate -- one percent cream
  • Sterile stretch gauze bandage -- three inches by four yards
  • Buffered aspirin
  • Dermicil hypoallergenic cloth tape one inch by 10 yards
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Kaopectate tablets maximum strength
  • Bandage scissors
  • Custom splints
  • Vet Rap bandage

    Other suggested items were:

  • Blanket
  • Tweezers
  • Muzzle
  • Hemostats
  • Rectal thermometer
  • Ziplock bags
  • Paperwork, including the dog's health record, medications, local and national poison control numbers, regular veterinary clinic hours and telephone numbers, and emergency clinic hours and telephone number.

I want to find and purchase a good Pet First Aid Kit - Instead of Making My Own.

Check for animal first aid and CPR classes at your veterinarian's office or local community college. These programs are designed to give you the confidence to respond in an emergency situation by learning emergency pet care skills that can save a life.

If you have a true passion for pets and their safety, click here to learn more about how to become a Veterinarian.


Emergency information is given in the hope that it will save animals' lives until they can be brought to a Veterinarian.

CREDITS - Pet CPR information:
Dr. Lori Feldman is a Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts Licensed Veterinarian and a member of the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society, In practice in Greenwich, Connecticut atGreenwich Veterinary Hospital.
Dr. Henry Feldman is a New York Licensed Physician at the NYU School of Medicine in the section of Medical Informatics.

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