Pet Emergency - First Aid

Important Phone Numbers

Mid-Peninsula Animal Hospital™ (650) 325-5671
South Peninsula Emergency Veterinary Clinic (650) 494-1461
National Animal Poison Control Center (888) 426-4435

In case of an emergency, you should immediately call the veterinarian. They will need to know what happened and when it happened so that they will be fully prepared to give your pet the best possible treatment.


On your way to the hospital, try to keep your pet warm (wrapped in a towel or blanket) and quiet. Be careful since your pet may bite you if in a lot of pain. Use a muzzle if necessary. Stay calm and drive carefully.

Apply First Aid

Be familiar with the following first aid basics and you could save your pet's life. Always seek veterinary care after you attempt first aid.


Apply direct pressure to the bleeding area with gauze or a clean cloth for at least five minutes or until the bleeding stops. Then wrap the bleeding area with a clean cloth or bandage, but do not wrap too tightly or you could cut off the circulation.

Open Wound/Bite Wound

Clean the wound with water. Apply pressure to any bleeding areas. Wrap the area with a clean cloth. These wounds can easily become infected and must be treated by the veterinarian.

Fractures and Limping

If your pet can place some weight on the limb, it may be a minor soft tissue injury and you can wait 24 hours to see if the limp resolves. If your pet cannot put any weight on it, then it needs to be seen by a doctor. This can be a very painful injury, especially if it is a fractured bone, so use caution when you move your pet. If needed, use a muzzle. Minimize movement and carry your pet on a towel or blanket used as a stretcher.

Back Injury

Your pet may have a back injury if he is paralyzed, unable to move a limb or limbs, and painful. You must keep his back as straight as possible when moving him. Instead of picking your pet up, slide him onto a board to transport him to the hospital.


When your pet has a seizure, it is important to time it to see how long it lasts. If it lasts 1-2 minutes without another recurrence within 24 hours, then it is not life threatening and you should report the incident to your veterinarian. If your pet has a convulsion lasting over 5 minutes or has a cluster of convulsions, you must immediately seek veterinary treatment.

Eye Injuries

If your pet gets any chemicals into his eyes, immediately flush the eyes with water or saline solution for about 15 minutes. Then, call your veterinarian and make sure you have the name of the substance and how much of it got into the eyes. For eye trauma, such as punctures or scratches, protect the eye by gently holding a moist clean cloth over the eye while you are transporting your pet to the hospital.


Find out what your pet ingested and how much. Call the veterinarian or poison control center. You should not induce vomiting unless directed by the veterinarian.


Open your pet's mouth and look for any foreign objects. Try to remove the object with your fingers, pliers, or tweezers. Be careful not to push the object down the throat. If you cannot dislodge the object, place your hands on both sides of the pet's rib cage and apply firm, quick pressure. If the pet is on his side, then place your palm over the side of his rib cage and apply firm, quick pressure. Repeat the pressure until the object can become dislodged.

Cardiopulmonary Arrest

If your pet is not breathing and you have checked to see that he is not choking, keep the pet's mouth closed and breathe into the nose until you see the chest expand. Keep giving breaths every 5 seconds. At the same time, compress the heart with the pet lying on his right side and placing your hand over the rib cage just behind the left elbow. Try to do 1-2 heart compressions a second. If it is a small animal, do heart compressions by squeezing the chest with one hand. Check to see if the pet is breathing on its own after a few minutes. Seek immediate veterinary treatment.


Overheating causes pets to pant excessively, collapse, and sometimes vomit. It is also a life-threatening situation. Before you take the pet to the hospital, douse him with cold water or apply some rubbing alcohol to the foot pads to begin the cooling process.