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Pet First Aid Guide: How to Give Pets First Aid?

Pet First Aid Guide: How to Give Pets First Aid?

All pet owners should know what to do in an emergency situation with their animals. To prepare for these situations, our Lexington veterinarians have provided this basic guide to first aid for pets.

First aid for pets

You love your pets and want to keep them with you, so it is important to know how to handle a health emergency so that you can stabilize them to get them to a vet.

Basic animal first aid begins with some baseline things to make sure of. Remember your Dr. ABCs:

Danger – keep yourself and others around you safe.

Response – check if your pet responds to their name or touch.

Airway – is their airway clear?

Breathing – are they breathing?

Circulation – do they have a pulse or heartbeat?

Send – someone to ask for help!

CPR for pets

The first concern is always whether they are breathing. Brain damage and death happen quickly if they are not breathing. For cats and dogs, the process is similar to the process of humans.

Check if they are breathing and try to find a heartbeat. If they are not breathing, check the air passage is unobstructed. If there is no heartbeat, begin chest compression at around 100 to 120 compression per minute. Do 30 compression and give rescue breaths. Close the pet's mouth and breath through its nose. Check every 2 minutes for a heartbeat/independent breathing.

Get your pet to the vet, and keep up CPR on route to the vet or until your pet is breathing on its own.

If your pet starts breathing on their own you should still take them to the vet.

First aid kit for pets

A pet first aid kit is not that different from a human first aid kit.

  • 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.


In general, if you can help you pet during a medical crisis, do it! Apply bandages or perform CPR as needed. If you cannot provide your pet with the help they need, locate the closest emergency veterinary hospital near you and take them in. It is best practice to call the animal hospital before bringing your pet in to ensure there is a veterinarian on call and that they can take your pet upon arrival.

And, of course, do not panic! Your pet can usually sense your stress even when they are having an emergency. Remain calm and follow the appropriate steps to get your pet help as soon as possible.

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.

If your pet is having a medical emergency, contact our Lexington team immediately before coming in.

Emergency Care

Bluegrass Veterinary Specialists + Animal Emergency is open 24/7 for emergencies and is accepting patients for advanced diagnostic appointments. Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Lexington companion animals. 

Contact Us

Contact (859) 268-7604