Pet First Aid – The Essential Steps That Could Save Your Pet’s Life

As a pet owner, the thought of an unexpected accident or injury to your beloved four-legged friend can be your worst nightmare. In an ideal world, we would always have an expert on hand, but there are times when taking quick, immediate actions ourselves can make a big difference.

PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing said: “Unfortunately, we can’t anticipate every dangerous scenario our pets will encounter, but knowing what to do in an emergency situation can be the difference between life and death. The more prepared we are, the less we have to worry about our pets.

Assess the situation

“Understanding what a life-threatening situation looks like is essential. Our pets can react in different ways when seriously injured; some will be shocked into silence, while others will scream in pain. If your pet has been in an accident or become seriously unwell, be extremely careful when moving or handling them. ; They are likely to be in pain and scared, which can mean they react in unexpected ways. When taking your pet to the vet, do this safely and carefully to prevent any further harm or injuries.

We aren’t always there to witness the cause of these events either – for example, if your pet suddenly starts to vomit or develop diarrhoea, it’s possible they may have consumed something toxic while you weren’t looking. Other potentially life-threatening scenarios include seizures, breathing problems, or collapse. In these situations, time is of the essence so it’s important to act quickly.

What to do in an emergency

“It’s hard not to panic when your pet is in danger, but try to stay calm and think rationally. We recommend having your vet’s contact details saved in your phone, as you should always call them immediately in the event of your pet becoming seriously unwell. Seek their advice before attempting to perform any first aid – in some cases pets can lash out when they’re in pain, which could injure you and cause more complications for them.

“For collapsed animals, it’s important to remember that performing CPR isn’t always appropriate or successful for pets and we advise owners to learn how to deliver this safely from a professional. However, if your vet’s at the end of the phone, you can help your pet by checking for any blockages in their airway and they can take you through CPR step by step.

Your first aid kit

“It’s a good idea to have a first aid kit to hand at home or when you’re travelling, equipped with all the items you need to treat small injuries. This includes essentials such as bandages, antiseptic wipes, blunt-ended scissors, wound wash, tweezers, cotton wool, gloves and a large blanket to use as a stretcher if need be. Even if you successfully treat your pet using a first aid kit, we always suggest taking them to your vet for a check-up afterwards. For more information on pet first aid, you can visit

PDSA is the UK’s largest 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.


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