Dog First Aid Tips

Pet First Aid Tips

Dr. Allison Faust

Nov 9, 2023

Call & Speak with a doctor Open 24/7, Even Holidays!

Walk in today for:




Point-of-Care Ultrasound


Urgent Care




Diagnostics + Testing


End-of-Life Care




Treatment + Hospitalization

As a pet owner, you’re probably already aware of just how important it is to pay attention to your pet’s health. But did you know there are dog and cat first aid techniques and tips you can learn, just like there are for humans?

By taking the time to learn canine/ feline first aid, you can provide better care for your pet than ever before. Read through the list below to find out more about how to provide first aid to your pet if they ever need it. This is not a comprehensive list, but is a good starting point for pet first aid.

Tips to Follow 

Listed below are 6 dog first aid tips to follow: 

1. Restrain the Pet

No matter what the cause of the crisis might be, restraining your pet is an important first step in providing first aid. Your pet is likely to be confused and frightened, which can lead to bites or escape without proper restraint.

It is always important to maintain your own safety. Apply some form of muzzle if your pet attempts to bite in order to prevent harm to you or others. You may also lay your pet on top of a large blanket or towel or place them into a pet carrier for easier transport. This type of restraint can help you move your pet to the car for a trip to the emergency vet as well.

2. Check the Airway

Make sure your pet can breathe. If possible, insert your fingers into the pet’s mouth to remove objects or substances that could be obstructing their breathing, such as thick saliva or pieces of broken toys. If you cannot remove the objects or if you suspect your dog will bite you, get to the emergency vet immediately.

Place the palm of your hand on the left side of your pet’s chest to check for a heart beat. You may also elevate the bottom half of the body to help encourage blood flow to the brain during a crisis. 

3. Perform Rescue Breathing

After clearing the pet’s mouth of objects or substances, if possible, pull the tongue out gently so the tip is outside the mouth and extend the head and neck carefully. Wrap a hand around the pet’s muzzle and hold the mouth shut. Breathe into the nostrils and check for rising and falling of the chest. Continue to provide rescue breaths for 10 breaths per minute.

If there is no rising and falling of the chest visible, this may indicate something is obstructing the airway. Hold the pet upside down and thrust against the chest five times to try to remove any objects causing an airway obstruction. Continue providing rescue breathing at a rate of 10 breaths per minute and take your pet to the emergency vet as soon as possible.

4. CPR for Pets

Time is of the essence when a pet needs CPR. Rather than performing CPR on your own, it is important to get them to the emergency room as quickly as possible where it can be performed by veterinary professionals with the proper equipment. However, here are some CPR tips that you can try while you are on the way.

Canine and feline CPR is similar to human CPR, but it is not performed exactly the same. Begin by putting the pet on their right side and checking for a pulse in the groin area, on the inside of the pet’s leg, or feeling for a heartbeat in the chest. *If you have a brachycephalic dog (“smush-faced breed”), you should place them directly on their back for CPR.

Place one hand over the other, keep your elbows locked, and position your hands over the middle of the chest. Compress the pet’s chest about 100-120 times per minute. Understand that it is possible to break ribs performing CPR on pets, just as it is possible to do this with humans.

5. Treat Blood Loss Quickly

If your pet is bleeding, use a piece of clothing, a towel, or a bandage to create a dressing. Press firmly on the injury if possible to try to stop the flow of blood. Any bleeding should be treated right away by an emergency vet rather than managed at home.

If the blood loss is coming from a toenail that has been cut to the quick, you can stop this type of bleeding by using styptic powder. However, blood loss from the nail should also be assessed by a veterinarian particularly if it does not stop bleeding. Otherwise, any other type of injury that results in blood loss should be treated by an emergency vet.

6. Treat Burns Appropriately

Finally, if your pet has been burned in any way, begin by rinsing the burn with room temperature water right away. Continue this process for several minutes, but be sure you don’t make your pet too cold in the process and potentially risk shock instead.

Wrap the burn in very damp towels and keep your pet as still as possible. Give your pet fresh, clean water to drink right away if they have been burned. Always follow up with a vet or emergency vet for any type of burn injury.

Call VEG for More Pet First Aid Tips 

It is very important to learn how to provide first aid to your pets. With the help of this guide, you should understand where to get started. When you take time to learn first aid for your pet, you can keep them safer during a crisis.

If you have any questions or want additional pet first aid tips, VEG has locations all over the country that each have a team of highly qualified emergency vets you can call.  At every VEG location, our emergency veterinarians and nurses are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and they are always willing to help you and your pet.