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Pet First Aid... Would You Know What To Do (and What NOT To Do)?

Have you taken a pet first aid course? Are you even aware that such courses exist? April is National Pet First Aid Awareness month, so this is a great time to talk about this important topic.

As is the case with people, timely and appropriate first aid can help your cats and dogs. From learning how to deal with a bee sting or cleanout and bandage a wound, to more advanced steps, such as safely transporting an injured pet or performing CPR, knowing first aid can provide you with peace of mind and your pets with a better chance of recovery from their illness, injury, or other emergency. Yet, sadly, too few people are even aware that pet first aid classes exist, let alone have ever taken one.

In our ongoing pet emergency preparedness survey only 21% of the respondents have taken a pet first aid course. Yet, over 71% of respondents report having needed veterinary emergency care for one of their pets.

As a veterinarian, I can tell you that there are many accident and emergency situations where timely and appropriate first aid can benefit your pets. Similarly though, it's also important that you know what NOT to do. And this is why I encourage every pet owner to learn the basic first aid knowledge that you can easily obtain from an accredited pet first aid course.

Here are some of the things you’ll learn in a pet first aid course:

  • How to check your pet’s vital signs (including pulse rate, respiratory rate, and others)

  • How to clean and bandage a wound

  • How to make and safely apply a temporary muzzle to protect yourself and others (painful pets can bite — even their owners!)

  • Signs that indicate when a trip to the Animal ER is necessary

  • And what Stayin’ Alive, the classic Bee Gees song, has to do with pet CPR (Spoiler Alert… it’s the beat that you should perform CPR chest compressions to!)

To find a pet first aid course near you, search our Pet First Aid & CPR resource page. And of course you'll need a pet first aid kit to put into practice much of what you’ll learn, so check out our Pet First Aid Kit Checklist to see what you need to easily put one together yourself.

Hopefully you'll never have need to administer first aid or CPR to your pets. But should the need ever arise — and it sadly often does — you'll be happy you took this opportunity to prepare yourself.

If you've taken a pet CPR class, or if you teach one, please share your experience in the comment section below. Additionally, if you've ever had to administer first aid or CPR to one of your pets, or someone else’s, please share your story with others here, too.


Topics: pet safety tips, pet safety, cat first aid, Pet First Aid, dog first aid, Emergency Preparedness for Pets, Blog

Please do not ask emergency or other specific medical questions about your pets in the blog comments. As an online informational resource, Preventive Vet is unable to and does not provide specific medical advice or counseling. A thorough physical exam, patient history, and an established veterinary-patient-client relationship is required to provide specific medical advice. If you are worried that your pet is having an emergency or if you have specific medical questions related to your pet’s current or chronic medical conditions, please contact or visit your veterinarian, an animal-specific poison control hotline, or your local emergency veterinary care center.

Please share your experiences and stories, your opinions and feedback about this blog, or what you've learned that you'd like to share with others.