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Basic Animal First Aid: Dogs & Cats

Basic Animal First Aid: Dogs & Cats

Pets tend to be full of energy and not necessarily the best at accident avoidance. For this article, our Tigard vets will discuss first aid and what you can do when your pet gets into trouble.

First aid for pets

You love your pets and want to keep them safe, so it is important to know how to handle an emergency so that you can stabilize them to get them to a vet. First aid for pets is similar to first aid for a human. Use the “Dr. ABCs”

Danger – Maintain both your own and the safety of those around you.

Response – See if your pet reacts when they are called or when you touch them.

Airway – Is their airway free of obstructions?

Breathing – Are they breathing?

Circulation – Is there a pulse or a heartbeat coming from them?

Send – Someone to ask for help!

CPR for pets

Make sure that your pet is still breathing. This should be your first priority. If they stop breathing, brain damage and ultimately death will occur very quickly. The procedure on cats and dogs is very comparable to the procedure performed on humans.

  • See if they are breathing and make an effort to locate their heartbeat if you can.
  • If the dog or cat is not breathing, check that the airway is clear of any obstruction.
  • If there is no sign of a heartbeat, you should begin chest compressions at a rate of approximately 100 to 120 per minute.
  • Perform 30 chest compressions while giving rescue breaths.
  • Keep the pet's mouth closed and allow them to breathe through its nose.
  • Check for a heartbeat and independent breathing at regular intervals of two minutes.
  • Get your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible, and continue performing chest compressions until you get there or until your pet begins breathing on its own.
  • Even if your pet begins to breathe on its own, you should still take them to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

First aid kit for pets

There isn't a huge amount of difference between a first aid kit for humans and one for pets. It is imperative that you always have the following items with you:

  • Bandages
  • Blunt-ended scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Wound dressing
  • Self-adhesive tape
  • Vinyl gloves
  • Foil blanket
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • A blanket to use as a stretcher or to immobilize them.


Always keep in mind the "Dr. ABCs." CPR for most pet is like the human version, but most pets breathe through their nose. Use common sense and best judgment. When in doubt, call your local 24-hour animal emergency clinic.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

In the event that your pet is experiencing a medical emergency after normal business hours, you should get in touch with our after-hours emergency veterinarians in Tigard as soon as possible.

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