Is Pet First Aid Really a Thing? on

Is Pet First Aid Really a Thing?

It is, and you can use it to save the life of your furry best friend

For most of us, our pets aren’t just pets. If you call your dog or cat your “baby” or refer to yourself as his or her parent, you are certainly not alone. And because our pets are so important to us, we want them to be as happy and healthy as possible. But would you know what to do if they needed immediate medical help? These first aid tips can help you prepare ahead of time.

Pay attention

You know your pet better than anyone, so you should be able to spot things that are out of the ordinary. If they’re not eating or drinking as much and aren’t as active as usual, these could be signs that something is wrong. You may want to check their vital signs – including pulse and temperature – on a regular basis so you know what’s normal.

Common pet emergencies


Signs of choking include coughing and trouble breathing, and a dog or cat may also paw at their mouth. You should try to look into their mouth to see if you locate the item. If you see it, you may be able to use a tool like tweezers to get it out. You’ll need to be careful, however, as a panicky pet is more likely to bite. Even if you are able to get the obstruction out, it’s important to have your pet looked at by a doctor.


If you have or have had young children, you know how easily they can get cuts and scratches. And while pets are usually a little savvier, if they spend a lot of time outdoors, chances are they come inside with their own cuts periodically. While most of these probably aren’t serious, if you notice a lot of blood, you’ll need to act. It is important to quickly find the wound and put a cloth or towel over it and keep the pressure on it for at least a few minutes. If this isn’t effective, you will need to create a tourniquet before taking your pet to the vet.


Because of our hot climate in South Florida, heatstroke is something we all especially need to be aware of. Signs include panting, labored breathing, and possible vomiting. It’s important to get your pet cooled quickly, and you can do this by wrapping them in towels soaked in lukewarm water so they don’t become cooled too quickly. Putting them in front of a fan and giving them water can also be helpful.

What about dogs and chocolate?

While there are many types of foods dogs shouldn’t be eating, chocolate may be the worst, as it can cause seizures, vomiting, and even death. If you see your dog eat a large amount of chocolate, you’ll need to see a vet as soon as possible. The same is true if you only suspect that it was consumed; this is another instance when knowing what’s normal and what’s not with your dog’s behavior will come in handy.

What should you do if your pet collapses?

Time is of the essence if your pet collapses. The CPR procedure in pets is similar to the one used to resuscitate people, but with some key differences. The first thing you’ll need to do is check to see if they’re breathing. If they aren’t, you will have to start compressions.

  • For cats and small dogs, you need to put the heel of one hand over their heart and the other hand on top of it.
  • For dogs that have a deep chest, you should put the heel of one hand on the widest part of the chest and put the other hand on top of it.
  • For dogs that are more barrel-chested, you will put one hand on the widest part of the sternum and put your other hand on top of it. You will want to ensure your shoulders are directly above your hands.

With your hands in the proper position, you will then push at a rate of about 100 compressions per minute, compressing 1/3 to 1/2 the width of their chest. After 30 compressions without any response, you will need to give rescue breaths. This entails closing your pet’s mouth and extending their neck. You will then cover their nose with your mouth and exhale enough so you see their chest rise. After a second rescue breath, you’ll need to resume CPR. You should continue this pattern until your pet starts breathing on their own or you get to your vet.

Know what to do in the event of an emergency

Because you want your pets to always be cared for, it’s important to know what to do if they’re in distress. At One Beat CPR, while we don’t offer classes specifically for rendering aid to pets, we teach life-saving skills that can be used on any person, of any age. And these skills just might help in an emergency involving the four-legged members of your family as well. Check out our class schedule here.