“Airway, Breathing and Circulation”
Knowing your ABC’s for pets can help owners stabilise a pet in an emergency situation.
Despite our best efforts to protect our pets, accidents can and do happen. In serious cases, knowing what to do in an emergency can be the difference between life and death.
Vet charity PDSA offers resources and courses in Pet First Aid across the UK to help owners, pet business owners and animal-lovers safely deliver first aid to pets in an emergency, until they can get them to a vet.
PDSA Vet Olivia Anderson-Nathan says, “Accidents can happen at any time and require speedy action. Many people have a basic understanding of first aid for humans but when it comes to pets, there’s less awareness. In many emergency scenarios, a vet isn’t likely to be first on scene, so it’s important to know what to do.”
There are 3 steps to follow: Prepare, Recognise and Act. Always prepare for an emergency, this could help save a pet’s life.
“Taking some basic precautions can mean you have the information and tools you need to stop things from becoming more serious,” says Olivia.
Always have access to your vet’s name, address and telephone number, and keep a pen and paper handy for any instructions they give you.
Try to be vigilant and take action if you are concerned about your pet. When you recognise any concerning symptoms, it is important to consider this as a pet emergency.
Olivia added, “Having difficulty breathing, collapsing, seizures or bleeding are all emergencies. Other problems, such as severe vomiting and diarrhoea or not being able to pass any urine for over 24 hours, could also be a potential emergency, so always get in touch with your vet practice if you’re not sure.”
As soon as you recognise that you have an emergency, ensure you call your vet. They can give you advice and, if you’re heading straight there due to an emergency situation, they can prepare while you are en-route to the surgery.
You may need to act and administer pet first aid if a pet becomes unconscious or unresponsive. The key is to remain calm and don’t panic. Check their ‘ABC’ vital signs:
A – Check the Airway is clear. Pull their tongue forward and check there is nothing stuck in the throat.
B – Check they are Breathing. Look at their chest to see if it’s moving and listen over their nose or mouth for airflow. If they’re not breathing, immediately check for a heartbeat.
C – Check their Circulation. Put your hand on their chest just behind their elbow. Do they have a heartbeat?
If you are sure there is no breathing or heartbeat, you may need to perform CPR. Always call for help before starting CPR. PDSA offers free Pet First Aid courses nationally, and owners can also download a free copy of the charity’s pet first aid guide. Just visit www.pdsa.org.uk/firstaid.
PDSA is the UK’s leading vet charity. We’re on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information. www.pdsa.org.uk