When accidents happen a basic idea of pet first aid will help you through the initial stages. Medical attention can then be sought.

Pet First Aid and Human First Aid are not dissimilar and the basic principles can be applied to our animal friends. However, in giving you any advice, our first recommendation must be: AVOID BEING BITTEN yourself. Even the friendliest pet can snap out of fear or pain and suddenly you could find yourself being the one needing medical attention!

Step 1 : Dont rush in. Take a breath and assess whether the painful area actually needs touching immediately. Often visualising the area without touching will give your pet a chance to recover from the initial shock and you to take stock of what has happened.

Step 2: Prevent further contamination of the wound. If your dog is off lead then get a lead or some other form of restraint. This is important to prevent sand or dirt continuing to get into the wound. If the wound is bleeding, then having your pet running around will delay clotting, so get your dog under quiet control.

With cats the same principles apply, confine your cat to a small area. If your cat is outside then wrap your pet in a large soft blanket. This may be the best way to move your pet inside safely. The blanket will provide some protection for you from cat bites. Once inside confine your cat to a small room or perhaps a travel cage or crate.

Step 3. Gently investigate the wound. Reassure your pet by using a calming tone and initially touch an area of their body that doesnt look sore. Gently move towards the area of interest giving your pet a chance to adjust to the sensation and develop trust.

Step 4. Just as in humans, wounds that bleed significantly require pressure. Clean gauze pads are ideal (raid your first aid kit) then appy a cohesive bandage (vetwrap or similar that sticks to itself) to hold the gauze in place. This type of bandaging is available over the counter at the clinic. However, in an emergency any clean cloth to apply pressure will be appropriate. Seek veterinary attention for significant bleeding.

Step 5. Don't get bitten, don't get bitten, don't get bitten!!!!! For dogs a tape muzzle may need to be applied around their nose before you can safely move your pet or inspect them. As is often the case, accidents can happen in unfamiliar places and so improvisation may be necessary. A lead wrapped around the muzzle or scarf may suit the purpose. A car first aid kit will also likely have a gauze roll which would be suitable. If you dont have a car first aid kit, GET ONE!! Wrap the gauze firmly around the muzzle and tie in place (not for cats).

Step 6. At this point you may feel most comfortable immediately going to your vet for assessment of the wound. This is especially appropriate for bleeding and gaping wounds. Dog and cat bites will usually require antibiotics and PAIN relief.

THEY REALLY HURT So don't wait a day or two to see if you are going to have a sick pet that is already sore!!!Bites can leave small wounds on the surface but they often go deep into the underlying muscles and fester down there.

In the case of smaller lacerations you could consider gently clipping the hair around the wound and flush out any dirt with cooled boiled water or use the little saline bottles from your first aid kit. Take care not to accidentally cut your pet while trimming the hair. Having some curved scissors in your first aid/emergency kit is a handy idea. They are available in our pet shop. After flushing the wound pat the area dry.

When to see the vet?

If the wound is bleeding,

if the wound is gaping,

if the wound is deep, if the wound is dirty, if it is a bite,

if it is greater than 1cm in length,

if it is near an area that undergoes alot of stretching,

if it is near the eye,

if it is obvious it needs further attention, if you are unsure.


No responsibility is accepted for injury to individuals or pets in following this advice. This page is intended as a general guide only to pet first aid.