First Aid knowledge doesn’t just benefit humans……a guide to Pet First Aid

Each month we try to make our blogs interesting and informative about all areas of first aid. For December’s blog we thought we would do something a little different… Bonnie and I, I am sure the majority of you are pet owners so this inspired us to get in touch with Sophie Flux, owner of Animal Aiders who provide practical and high quality veterinary led Animal First Aid Courses.


Happy Christmas to all Aim High Training’s customers!  First aid is not just about humans, as many people want to know the best way to help their family pet in a first aid situation too. I have been running Animal Aiders since 2006. We hold courses across the country to help pet owners become better prepared in the event of a medical emergency. No matter how vigilant we are as caring owners, our pets can get themselves into all kinds of scrapes – some of them serious. That’s why a little pet first aid knowledge (just like human first aid) can be a life saver. I’ve put together the answers to some commonly asked questions but if you do have any others please don’t hesitate to contact me.



What are the most common reasons why a pet might need first aid?

Dogs and cats can suffer from minor cuts and grazes, with cats often getting bites and scratches from fighting. Rabbits are less likely to have wounds but on our courses we regularly hear of house bunnies who have chewed through wires and have been electrocuted.


What things can a pet owner tackle themselves?

All good veterinary surgeries will be happy to give you first aid advice over the phone, so always call them if you are worried. Get to know your pet’s basic health signs and their behavior so if they do begin to feel unwell, you can spot the change quickly. Look for things like an increased heart rate, respiration (breathing) rate or a change in their temperature. If your pet has sustained a serious injury (eg: a broken limb) then obviously they’ll need urgent professional treatment and time is of the essence. Wrap your pet in a blanket or towel to provide warmth, to reduce shock and to protect the injured limb and take them to your vet straight away.


 What are the most important things to do in a first aid situation?

The most important thing to remember in any situation is that you come first, just like in your human first aid training. Never rush into a situation that could cause you further harm, think before you act!!! You also need to bear in mind that a pet in pain may well act out of character and possibly be aggressive. Handle them very carefully, don’t push it if they’re becoming defensive or stressed and keep your voice gentle and reassuring.


Is it a myth that chocolate is poisonous to dogs?

At Christmas time there is often lots of chocolate around in the house, and many dogs will eat it, whether it be white, milk or dark chocolate.  White chocolate is very rarely poisonous but milk and dark chocolate definitely are toxic to your dog.  There is a chemical called Theobromine in the chocolate which the dog cannot metabolise and levels as low as 20mg of Theobromine per kg of dog are toxic.  Signs of Theobromine poisoning include vomiting, diarrhoea, restlessness and high heart rate. If the Theobromine is not removed or diluted in your dog’s system they could die so it is essential that you speak to a vet as soon as possible.


Are there any other food types that can be poisonous? 

Raisins, grapes, sultanas and any dried fruit from the grape family are toxic to dogs.  There are many sad stories of dogs eating a mince pie or stealing Christmas cake and dying over the Christmas period.  It is unknown what exactly the toxic chemical in grapes is, but the signs of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhoea, thirst and lethargy.  Ultimately the poisoning causes acute kidney failure and death. If you think your dog has eaten any chocolate or raisin type food, contact your vet as soon as possible, remembering to tell them how much the dog has eaten and how long ago.


Should I have a First Aid Kit for my pets?

As a responsible owner you should know how to cope with a first aid situation and have the right kit. If you own a dog, have one in your car when you go out or put one in your bag for when you are out walking. I have suggested below the types of things to consider putting into your pet first aid kit…..

  • Surgical Tape
  • Blunt-ended scissors (never use normal scissors when treating your pet)
  • Sterile saline solution
  • A thick towel
  • Wound cleansing wipes
  • Sterile absorbent gauze or swabs
  • Tweezers (not sharp-ended)
  • Bandages – padding, conforming and cohesive bandage
  • Non-adhesive dressings to cover open wounds
  • Elizabeth collar (or pet cone, to prevent pets from worrying at a wound)
  • Vinyl gloves
  • Foil blanket to retain body heat and help combat shock

If you would like to learn more about pet first aid, come on an Animal Aiders Course.  Animal Aiders First Aid Courses are designed to give animal carers the resources and confidence to care for animals in typical First Aid situations.  Our Courses are led by Veterinary Professionals and whilst being no substitute for professional veterinary advice or care, should give you the resources for coping in a typical first aid situation. Why not visit our website to see if we have a course near you. We also sell Equipment and Kits, making it possible for you to practice Animal First Aid effectively.


A huge thank you to Sophie for her guest blog and for answering our questions. Remember, if you have any questions about human or animal first aid, please do not hesitate to contact either of us.

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