First aid tips for pet owners

yellow lab resting with person's hand on it

Do you know what you would do if your dog ate some chocolate? What if your cat had a seizure? What if your pet was overheating on a hot summer day, or fell down the stairs and started limping?

Knowing some basic first aid information and being prepared for emergencies can help you avoid the feelings of panic that may accompany these situations. First aid care is not a substitute for veterinary care, but it may save your pet’s life until you can get them veterinary care. In case of an emergency, call your veterinarian or local veterinary emergency hospital so they can be ready when you arrive.

When traveling with your pet, consider bringing a simpler, travel-sized version of the pet first aid kit you keep at home, and have the phone numbers of your veterinarian, the national animal poison control hotline (888-426-4235), and a 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital in the area where you will be visiting.

When traveling without your pet, be sure to consider who's in charge while you're away and what they'll need to keep your pet safe and healthy. 

For your safety

An injury may not only cause your pet pain, but also fear and confusion. These things can make even the gentlest of pets unpredictable or even dangerous. To protect you both:

  • Avoid any attempt to hug an injured pet.
  • Keep your face away from your pet’s mouth.
  • Apply a muzzle if your pet threatens to bite.
  • Whenever possible, ask other people to help you move your pet.

Remember: Any first aid administered to your pet should be followed by immediate veterinary care. First aid care is not a substitute for veterinary care, but it may save your pet's life until it receives veterinary treatment.

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Keep first aid information on hand, whether at home or in the clinic.


Also in Spanish: Primeros Auxilios para Mascotas

First aid kit for pets

Keep a kit of basic first aid supplies for the pets in your household. Many items in a family first aid kit can be used for pets, too. Your veterinarian may recommend additional items for your kit based on your pet’s medical condition.