Your pet is your life, and that means that you will do whatever it takes to help care for them, whatever those needs might turn out to be. What about a situation where your pet needs first aid?  Are you familiar with the basics of how to help your pet get critical care? Or how to spot that they need it? 

Below, we’ll cover basic first aid tips for dogs and cats and also some information on how to recognize when your pet is in need of help!  Consider this your crash course on how to learn basic first aid care for your pet. Let’s get started. 

Simple first aid tips for pet owners

Regardless of the pet that you are dealing with, you’ll want to remember some of the main pointers for proper first aid.  Since seeing our pet in need of care tends to scramble our brains, you’ll want to think about preparing for first aid needs ahead of time!  

Have a pre-packaged pet first aid kit

You can buy these all over the place, and your vet will be a great resource to ask if you need some support in this area.  These will have plenty of gauze wrap, a dog thermometer, and dog-safe products to help clean cuts properly without using human ones, which are often not recommended for pets.

This also is a neat and tidy package that you can keep centrally located to ensure that it’s always there, packed, and ready to be used if your pet cuts his paw or otherwise.  If it’s all prepacked, you won’t worry or get frustrated if you can’t find something — this can amp up your pet’s anxiety, too, which never helps.

A little soap and water never hurts

If your dog comes home with a cut that’s bleeding, you don’t necessarily need to take them to the vet right away.  If it looks like a light cut (and isn’t bleeding severely), you can safely wash it out with dog-safe soap and warm water.  Thoroughly clean the area and gently remove sand or debris from it.  

This washing and cleaning are going to give you a good idea of how bad the cut is, too.  If it looks okay, you can wrap it and use the tape in your first aid kit to keep it dry and clean.  This will help your dog stay out of it while it heals.  You’ll need to make sure they don’t pick the wrapping off, though!

If it looks bad, of course, know when to reach out to your vet so that you can get it looked at before infection or anything like that sets in.  First aid is only meant for at-home bumps and bruises, after all. Anything above that may need actual, formal medical care and support.

Take a close look at what your pet is dealing with

A huge part of first aid is going to be knowing when you can take care of it yourself and when you need professional support.  If you have reason to believe that you’re dealing with a snake bike or a spider bite or a bug sting, a trip to the vet is a great idea.  

If it’s just clearly a minor cut that just needs to be cleaned, you can do that at home safely.  Just keep an eye on the healing process as closely as you can in case there is an infection or something else going on.

Don’t assume first aid products are okay

When it comes to human first aid, we usually use Polysporin or something like that on a cut or scrape.  Most human products aren’t safe on pets, and you should never assume as much and use them anyway.  Not only can they be downright dangerous for your pet, but you’ll also worsen the sensitive injury site!

If you don’t have an emergency kit, the best thing to do is stick with classic dog-safe soap and water!

How to know when my pet needs first aid care

So, now that you know the basics of first aid care, you’ll want to take a moment to understand when your pet might be in need of first aid care.  Pets aren’t always great at communicating their needs to us, so we have to learn when they are in need of help and support.  Your pet may need first aid care if they are…

Suddenly aggressive or shy

Dogs that suddenly change their attitude are often in pain of some sort.  If they’ve gotten a bite or a sting, they’ll be trying to take care of it by protecting themselves.  If your normally kind and sweet dog is snapping at you, she’s trying to allow her wound to heal and is scared you’ll hurt her.  

If your normally alert and livewire cat is suddenly hiding away where no one can get to him, he could be dealing with an injury.

Pets become different versions of themselves when they are in pain, much like humans!  Respect their space, but do what you can to at least see what the problem is.  If they won’t let you near it at all, it’s most likely severe enough that you’ll want to have a vet take a look at it!

They are restless or making lots of noise

If they won’t settle or are wandering around and whimpering or making other kinds of noise, pay attention to that.  It could be their way of signaling that they need help.

They’re picking at a spot 

If they are picking at a spot with their teeth, nose, or tongue, it’s a sure sign that something is there they’re trying to soothe away.  Try to get a good look at it to see just what’s going on!

Pets are incredible creatures that also find themselves in quite a bit of trouble without really meaning to.  These tips and reminders will help you keep on track with the first aid care that you might need to administer so that you’re always doing your part to keep them comfortable and safe!


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