April is Pet First Aid Awareness Month, making now the ideal time for pet professionals to educate the general public on the essential components of pet first aid.

There’s no time like the present to talk to clients and pet owners about the actions they can take should their pet get injured. Certainly, many pet owners don’t own a pet first aid kit, nor are they aware of the items needed in the case of a pet accident or injury. Likewise, a lot of pet parents don’t know the critical steps they can take to care for their pet prior to arriving at the veterinary clinic.

These are all important factors that pet professional can educate on and raise awareness of as part of Pet First Aid Awareness Month.

Signs of a pet emergency

An important element of pet first aid is helping pet owners to recognise a pet emergency. Here are some popular pet emergencies, along with the common signs, and what action owners can take.


Heatstroke (A.K.A heat stress) can be fatal to pets. As a pet professional you can ensure pet owners are aware of the deadly consequences and the symptoms to look out for. Signs of heatstroke include:

  • Excessive Panting
  • Noisy Panting
  • Drooling
  • Collapse
  • Lethargy

What first aid action to take:

  • Place wet towels in the hairless parts of the body, such as the groin and footpads to help reduce their body temperature.
  • Make sure the pet drinks plenty of water.
  • Transport to the nearest vet. The animal can remain wrapped in damp towels during the drive.


There are many things that are toxic to pets. As such, the symptoms can vary, depending on the underlying cause. However, general symptoms to be aware of include:

  • Vomiting
  • Shaking/trembling
  • Pale gums or a blue tinge
  • Drooling
  • Increased rapid breathing
  • Whining
  • Weakness/collapse
  • Paralysis

What first aid action to take:

  • Comfort the animal to help keep it calm and still.
  • In the case of a bite, particularly a snake bite, apply pressure to the wound site to prevent the toxin from spreading to other areas of the body. However, don’t use a tourniquet.
  • Carry the pet to the car. Don’t allow them to walk.
  • Immediately take the pet to a vet. If possible call ahead to advise the vet you are on your way.

Electric shock injury

Electric shock injuries are incredibly serious. In dogs, injury commonly occurs in the mouth area (due to biting or chewing an electrical wire). While injury at the point of contact may be difficult to detect, other signs include:

  • Fast breathing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Blue-tinged skin
  • Tremors
  • Collapse

What first aid action to take:

  • If the injury occurred in the home, the pet owner should turn off the power.
  • If the pet is breathing, owners can place a cloth or towel over their face to block out light and noise and help calm the animal. Take the animal to the nearest vet.
  • If the animal has stopped breathing, CPR should be performed. Call the nearest vet.

Putting together a pet first aid kit

Every pet owner should have a first aid kit for their furry friend, however, many don’t!

As a pet professional, you can advise owners on the essential items needed to care for their fur baby in an emergency. The basic items recommended for a pet first aid kit include:

  • Absorbent gauze pads
  • Sterile non-stick gauze pads
  • Gauze rolls
  • Adhesive tape (preferably 1” medical tape)
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Blanket (preferably a foil emergency thermal shock blanket)
  • Cotton balls or swabs
  • Instant ice pack
  • Non-latex disposable gloves
  • Scissors
  • Saline solution
  • Needle-nosed pliers or tweezers

Of course, different pets have different needs; so discuss pet first aid with your clients to ensure they know what items are required for their individual companion animal.


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Image source: Unsplash 

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Liz has a passion for all things cat and dog, and was one of the first in Australia to bring Pet Insurance to the market. She has headed up Petsecure for the past 12 years, and is committed to promoting and supporting the amazing work done by rescue groups around Australia, and those who work to promote a better life for all animals.

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